The problem with this is that chronic pain can make cooking feel impossible. A lot of days, it actually is impossible; you can't make a flared body go if it doesn't want to. But that doesn't negate the need for a decent meal. Fortunately, there are some things you can do when you're feeling a bit more physically capable so that flares don't leave you stranded in a food desert. I can't tell you what types of food are good for your body, but I can offer some tips that help any chronically ill would-be chef.
Bring the workspace to you with a portable table. Some kitchen designs are all about efficiency, which is great for those of us with chronic pain, but many designs make inefficient use of counter space. This translates to more walking back and forth in the kitchen as you gather your cooking implements and your ingredients-- not good when every extra step is causing pain and fatigue. Cut down on these steps around the kitchen by using a sturdy portable card-table as your cooking home-base. Place the card table close to where you'll be doing most of the food preparation-- generally near the stove. Before you start cooking, put all your needed tools and ingredients onto the card table. Now when you're cooking, you'll be able to reach behind you to grab what you need instead of having to go across the kitchen.
Use chairs to work sitting down. One of the hardest things about cooking with chronic pain is that cooking so often involves hours of standing. Standing when you chop your ingredients, standing over the stove, then standing over the sink to clean up. All this standing can be mitigated, if not eliminated, by using a chair in the kitchen. Computer chairs work great because you can adjust the height to meet the needs of each station in your kitchen. Some tasks are a little awkward in the chair-- like dishes-- but having the chair to take breaks helps keep pain levels from spiking, even if you don't complete the whole chore sitting down.
Have the right blade. Chopping veggies is a chore that sore hands anticipate with dread. It becomes a total nightmare if you don't have a decent, sharp knife. The sharper the knife, the less pressure you have to put behind it to make it work; this translates to less pain and impact on your hands. Find out which knife type feels best to you; personally, I find that knives with bigger blades are easier because I don't have to grip as tightly. Kitchen scissors are also much easier for me to use than knives because I can rely on the pressure of two hands squeezing rather than one rocking wrist.
Break the work into chunks. To prevent yourself from getting too fatigued and sore from working in the kitchen, break your work into short, manageable stages and rest in between them. This is easier with some meals than with others, but the principal can apply to almost any meal. Take a break after getting everything together. Take a break after getting things cut up. Take a break when everything is mixed together. Do whatever you can to save your energy for when your food hits the frying-pan, when you absolutely must attend to it. When baking, you can take hours or days between some steps while you let your dough chill in the refrigerator. And don't get down on yourself for breaks- always remember it's better that something come together slowly than not at all.
Keep healthy grab-and-go food ready. There are times when you need food now. Maybe your blood sugar is crashing, maybe you need something to eat with your medication. Whatever the reason, grab-and-go food is important to keep around. Of course a lot of this depends on personal needs and taste preference, but here are some grab-and-go foods worth considering.
- Plain yogurt with frozen fruit
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Meal-replacement bars
- Cheese and crackers with fruit