Living with Chronic Pain
Tips for Meal Preparation
Chopping vegetables, lifting heavy pots and pans and standing in front of a stove can increase pain levels for individuals with chronic pain. Oftentimes, this causes people to select the most convenient food choices at meal times; however, convenient foods, such as fast foods and prepackaged foods, are usually highly processed and not the healthiest choice.
Here are a few tips to make meal preparation more manageable:
Make the most of good days
On days when pain levels are diminished and energy levels are elevated, planning and prepping meals for days to come is a good idea. This could include cooking and freezing meats to be used in future meals, such as ground turkey for tacos or grilled chicken for salads. This makes meal time manageable on days when pain is intense — just heating and eating is required.
Cleaning up one-dish meals is often an easier task because fewer dishes are used during meal preparation. Casseroles and stews can be made with fresh, healthy ingredients full of flavor and nutrition. Also, a considerable amount of food can be made at one time, creating leftovers for future meals. Slow cookers and pressure cookers are ideal one-dish meal makers.
Pre-cut fruits and vegetables
Chopping fruits and veggies can be a daunting task for those with severe hand or joint pain. Buying pre-cut fruits and veggies is a great way to eliminate the slicing and dicing process. Fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables can be bought already chopped, diced or sliced for quick use. Some frozen fruits and vegetables are also available in pureed form.
Assistive cooking tools
Many tools on the market can make cooking and eating less of a chore. Some of these devices include jar openers, knives with ergonomically designed handles and non-slip cutting boards. Also, using cushioned mats in the kitchen can ease pressure on the hips, legs and back.
Meal kit delivery
Delivered meal kits not only offer healthy options with fresh ingredients, but they also come with every ingredient needed for cooking a meal in 30 minutes or less. Finding a healthy recipe, making a trip to the grocery store and measuring ingredients are not required. For people who live alone, buying the 4-person meal, cooking it and saving the remaining 3 portions for other meals to eat throughout the week is a valuable tip.
Meals on Wheels
Meals on Wheels is an option for some individuals. Visit their website to learn more: https://www.mealsonwheelsamerica.org/