I think everyone who suffers from fibromyalgia or any chronic illness would agree, pain and energy, or lack thereof, can make even the most mundane tasks a thousand times more difficult to do, or even want to attempt to do. However, eating is not something you can put off. Also, many fibro or chronic illness sufferers are trying different diets or trying to eat healthier to try to improve their pain or decrease symptoms so cooking is a necessity.
Cooking is something that may have become difficult to do anymore. Is there anything that we as sufferers can do to make this task any easier? Yes, there are a lot of things we can do to try to help ourselves with this job. Some may be feasible for you to do while others may not. Hopefully some of these tips will be helpful for you and make cooking easier or even enjoyable.
The most obvious way to make cooking easier is to turn it over to your family. If your kids are old enough to help out in the kitchen, let them, it’s a wonderful teaching and learning opportunity for them! If your spouse is able to help, or take over cooking altogether, let him! This doesn’t mean you can’t ever cook again, especially if you like to cook or when you are having a good day. However, if this is an option for you, use it, don’t be afraid to ask for help, but not everyone has the luxury of help.
So, the first step you might want to consider is looking at your kitchen layout. Think about the things or equipment that you use the most often and see if there is a way to rearrange things in your kitchen so those things are easier to reach. For some of us, reaching or lifting some cooking equipment is not easy and could prove to be dangerous. Placing cooking equipment you use often in a lower cupboard, or if space allows, on the counter top can be safer and make it easier for you to reach.
If any of you watch much TV or read magazines, you know there is a gadget for any and all things kitchen related. While some of them may be a waste of money, some of those things could prove to help make it easier on you, your hands or arms especially. And one other thing related to your kitchen that could prove to be invaluable is a stool or chair, this way while you are preparing foods you can sit, this can help conserve some energy and help with pain in your back or feet. Gathering all the equipment or ingredients your need ahead of time and keeping it within reach is also a good tip.
There are some other ideas regarding cooking and the food itself that can make things easier on you. The most obvious thing that might help but can be financially restrictive is buying pre-cooked or prepared meals. There are so many options for frozen meals now that even if you are working hard to eat healthier, you have lots of choices. This can prove to be a lifesaver when you have had a long day or are suffering from a flare and cooking anything is the last thing on your mind.
Another option for prepared foods might be getting a prepared meal from a deli or grocery store, no prep, no cooking and very little clean up, especially if you use paper plates! Something else you might want to consider is when you are making a meal, make your food in a double batch and freeze the rest so on a bad symptom day, you have a meal already prepared.
Also, along those lines, if you are having a good day, you may want to make a few easier to prepare meals and freeze them. Prepping ingredients ahead of time for a meal you can put in a crock pot or roaster may also help, especially when a meal is hot and ready at the end of a long day. Crock pot meals are good options as well; you can throw everything in and walk away. Cutting and chopping have become very difficult for me to do anymore as it is likely for many of you as well. Thankfully I have my kids and my husband, who are usually around, that are able to help me with that part of food preparation.
However, there are days that this is not an option for me or for many others. Frozen food/ingredients are a good option to have on hand such as frozen vegetables or fruits as many of those are pre-cut. You can also buy pre-cut fruits and vegetables in the produce section, and again, those things can be cost prohibitive but there are certainly days where the extra money is worth saving you the pain from cutting and chopping yourself! Looking at grocery store ads and buying some of the frozen foods or ingredients when they are on sale and stocking up is a good way to save at least a little bit of money.
On good days you could also go buy fresh ingredients if they are on sale and cut them up and freeze them to use later. Technology can also help with meal preparation. Search for easy recipe ideas on Goggle, Pintrest or other similar sites, or using recipes that have minimal ingredients can also make the meal or cooking situation less stressful. There are a lot of cookbooks like “4 Ingredient Meals” or similar ones that can also ease the burden of cooking in the fact that the less ingredients, the less to prepare. Canned foods are another option.
Things such as soups or stews are a quick and easy meal option if you are really suffering; of course having an electric can opener is a good idea, or you can buy the cans that have the easy open lids you can open without an opener. Pasta is an easy option as well and it doesn’t require preparation ahead of time.
Lastly, meal planning can also be something that may prove to be helpful as well. Making a list of a few meals a week and writing your grocery list ahead of time can help decrease the amount of time you have to spend in the grocery store or trying to figure out what to cook at the last minute, this can also help keep you from feeling stressed or anxious. There will be things that will work for you and things that may not. But since eating is necessary, cooking and meal preparation is also necessary so anything you can do to ease that burden will help reduce the stress and anxiety for you.