Living with Chronic Pain

Tips for Preparing a Holiday Meal While Dealing With Chronic Pain


When living with chronic pain, preparing meals can be a difficult task. This is especially true if preparing a large holiday meal. Chopping vegetables, lifting heavy pots and pans, and standing for long periods can increase pain levels. However, developing and sticking to a plan for a holiday meal will help keep the holidays stress-free.

7 tips for preparing a holiday meal while living with chronic pain include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Make a grocery list. To cut grocery shopping time in half, make a detailed list of items needed. This list should also be organized by department. Grocery pickup or delivery services are also beneficial when preparing a large holiday meal.
  2. Involve others. Prepare a menu and assign each family one or two dishes to bring or let your guests know you are having a potluck meal. Have younger children set the table and older children be in charge of taking the trash out. Hosting a holiday meal where everyone is involved helps bring family and friends together.
  3. Purchase pre-cut fruits and vegetables. Chopping fruits and vegetables can be a daunting task if you have severe hand or joint pain. Buying pre-cut fruits and vegetables 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 puréed form.
  4. Utilize assistive cooking tools. Many tools on the market can make cooking large meals less of a chore. Some of these devices include jar openers, knives with ergonomically designed handles, and non-slip cutting boards. Use pots and pans with two handles to distribute the weight. A food processor is beneficial for chopping, cutting and slicing. Also, using cushioned mats in the kitchen can ease pressure on your hips, legs and back.
  5. Use a slow cooker. A crock pot is a great way to cook meats, soups, stews, and a variety of other dishes. Utilize a small slow cooker for dips or appetizers. For easier cleanup, use a disposable crock pot liner.
  6. Meal prep. Cook as much ahead of time as possible. Many side dishes or desserts can be made a day or two ahead of time. Certain casseroles, vegetables, or homemade breads can also be prepared beforehand and frozen.
  7. Compromise. Instead of preparing difficult dishes, try simpler foods. A pie crust can be purchased instead of being made from scratch. Decrease the number of side dishes and desserts. If your pain limits you from being present the entire time, rest while others are socializing. Compromising and prioritizing can make the holiday meal more enjoyable for you.

Additional source: Psychology Today and Pain Doctor

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