When you’re battling with a chronic health illness like fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome often the last thing you feel like doing is preparing and cooking a meal. However, enjoying homemade food is so important, especially when your body could do with the helping hand that nutrient dense wholefoods have to offer.
Before I developed fibromyalgia, I really enjoyed cooking and baking. I had been baking cookies and cakes since I was a teenager and had developed a love for cooking in my early 20s. I didn’t want to stop being able to cook, not only for the nutrients, but for the joy and relaxation that cooking brought me.
Unfortunately, my energy levels don’t always see eye to eye with my intentions!
Over time, I figured out ways to make my time in the kitchen easier and how to maximise a good day when I have extra energy to spend on cooking. Here are my tips for cooking with a chronic illness
Simplify the way you get your groceries
Most grocery stores deliver so look into ordering your weekly shop online. If grocery stores do not deliver to your area, order heavier pantry items like cooking oils, flours and pulses on Amazon.
If you are interested in keeping it organic and buying locally, many farms have weekly seasonal delivery services.
Buy frozen food and pre-cut fruit and vegetables
You can get all sorts of frozen fruits and vegetables and not just your standard frozen peas and corn. Hard to cut produce like butternut squash and onions can be bought pre-cut.
Ask for help
Do you have roommates, family or a partner you can ask for help? Ask them to help you with just the ‘heavy lifting’ aspect – the actual heavy lifting of pots and pans, cutting vegetables and reaching/bending for ingredients.
For example, you could ask them to cut a bunch of sweet potatoes for you and put them into containers in the fridge, that way you just need to add oil and seasoning to make some delicious wedges.
If you don’t have someone you live with, is there a friend you could ask for help? If not, look into local churches and social services, they may be able to help.
Make more than you need
Every time I cook I ask myself how man meals can I get from this?
When you’re cooking, double the recipe and pop it in the fridge for tomorrow, this works especially well for pasta dishes. Investing the time and effort in roasting a chicken means I can use leftover meat for a couple of meals and then make bone broth when I’ve gone through all the leftovers.
Make the most of the good days
On days where you feel you have a bit more energy, make some soups or casseroles that you can freeze now and defrost on the days where your energy levels aren’t so high.
On the weekend, carve out some time to think about the week ahead. Make or ask for help making meals that can last a few days like soups/stews, chillis or casseroles.
Prepare snacks like hardboiled eggs to keep in the fridge for when you need a snack or addition to a meal.
Invest in tools to make your life easier
Items like a blender, soup maker and a slow cooker mean you can throw in the ingredients into one pot and the work stops there.
I swear by my soup maker which heats, stirs and blends the ingredients!
I hope this is helpful for you! Cooking with a chronic condition is certainly a journey but I figured out a way to do it and I want to share my tips with you!
If you have any ideas or tips for cooking with chronic illness please get in touch via the contact page or commenting below!