Chronic pain can make it difficult do function during normal daily activities, with research indicating most people who are constantly in pain — regardless of the cause — find it hard to exercise, participate in social activities, and perform household chores. Each of these limitations further rob those in chronic pain of the quality of life they deserve.
Quality nutrition is of paramount importance to your health and energy levels, but how on earth do you go about preparing healthy meals from scratch if you are in constant pain, and may additionally be suffering from mobility issues?
Making Your Life Easier While Still Preparing Healthy Meals
If you're determined to make your own meals, there are some "life hacks" (as they're apparently called these days) that may make your life easier. People with chronic pain resulting from conditions as varied as trauma and fibromyalgia can consider:
- Making quick and easy meals that are still (semi-)healthy, such as one-pot pastas or stir-fries.
- Buying pre-cut vegetables.
- Using a slow cooker, which requires very minimal interaction on your part after preparing the ingredients.
- Sitting on a high-quality rotating office chair while preparing food in the kitchen.
- Cook larger quantities of food during one sitting so you can have frozen meals the rest of the time.
- Do your cooking in stages — first cutting up food, then resting, and then cooking it. One woman told me she set a timer so that she knew when she'd be able to take a break, and she also told me that counting in her head helped her to get the kitchen clean after cooking.
- Get your groceries delivered, so you won't have to worry about that part at least.
- Electric appliances are your friend. From mixers to electric can openers, grab what you need and can.
- Put items in a place where you can reach them easily.
It may take a while to find strategies that work for you. Some people will prefer to get larger amounts of cooking over and done with in one sitting so they don't have to do it all over again the next day, while other people, particularly those who also suffer from fatigue, may find cooking works better in small doses.
Some people will find great relief by having their kitchens adapted to their needs — for instance, having a surface they can comfortably sit at created, or moving kitchen cabinets down so they can be reached more easily. This can be expensive, but may save you from a lot of pain over a very long time.
What If You Just Can't Cook Anymore?
What if you're at the stage where you just can't cook anymore?
- Unless you live alone, ask for help and fully expect to receive it! Even very small children can help out in the kitchen, for instance by handing you ingredients. Do not feel guilty about asking for help.
- Meal delivery services may be an option for you.
- You may be able to find someone — not necessarily an expensive professional cook, just someone who is good in the kitchen — to prepare meals that you can then freeze. Heating them up may still be difficult for you, but it should be much less so.
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