Eating a healthy diet is important, especially when you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, joint pain stiffness and swelling can make cooking feel nearly impossible. Nobody living with RA wants to stand at the kitchen counter and chop vegetables or bend down to lift a heavy pan out of the oven. But, you don’t have to stop cooking your favorite meals when you meal prep your rheumatoid arthritis diet. Here’s how.
Pick a day every week to sit down for a few minutes to decide what you might want to eat for meals that week. Think about breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner. Write down what you think you want to make, or have in your house already, and what day of the week you plan to cook or eat that item.
Make a shopping list for what you need, and organize your list by sections in the grocery store. Now, when you go shopping, you won’t have to walk all over the store looking for the food you need to buy. You’ll be able to go directly to the food you need, so you spend less money and less time at the store.
If you find shopping during peak store hours to be difficult, consider going to the store either early in the morning or during a typically slower time like dinnertime.
Eating enough fresh fruit and vegetables is important, especially for people with RA, who need the nutrients those foods have. But cutting fruit and vegetables is very difficult and painful when you live with RA. So go for convenience: buy pre-cut fruit and veggies. Many stores have produce that they cut for you. You can also buy frozen veggies and fruit, too. This will save you time, energy and pain.
Have the right kitchen tools
Having the right tools helps you cut down on prep time. Sharp knives, good cookware and non-slip grip oven gloves can make it easier to cook. There are lots of RA-friendly kitchen tools that can help. For example, there is a rocker-style knife that takes the pressure off your fingers and wrist.
Invest in gadgets that do the hard gripping, twisting and opening for you, such as an electric can opener, jar opener, crock pot liners and stirring spoons with large handles.
Ask for Help
If your RA is really hurting and you don’t feel like cooking, remember that you can ask for help. Call a friend or family member and see if they would like to come over and have dinner with you. Spending time with other people helps you get your mind off of your RA pain, and it gives you a chance to have someone help you cook. As an added bonus, you’ll get to enjoy a delicious meal with someone you love.
If you don’t feel like staying home for dinner, you can let someone do the cooking for you and head to your favorite restaurant. Remember to choose foods that don’t trigger your RA symptoms. Instead, try to choose foods that reduce RA symptoms.
Take it easy
Sit down and rest when you need to while you’re cooking. You can also minimize your time spent standing by only using the dishes and cooking utensils that you absolutely need. Try cooking in one or two pots or skillets, and use disposable plates when you need to.