Kitchen Hacks for Cooking With Arthritis

 

Psoriatic arthritis can make ordinary tasks like cooking a real challenge, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop whipping up your favorite meals. Just ask chef Melinda Winner.

Winner, the author of A Complete Illustrated Guide to Cooking With Arthritis, was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis more than 20 years ago. Despite her physical limitations, she typically cooks dinner five nights a week.

When it comes to being in the kitchen, cooking meals, Winner finds one of the biggest difficulties is battling fatigue. “When you prepare food, it takes a lot out of you. It really does,” she says.

Tasks that most people consider simple — such as slicing vegetables, lifting a pot, or opening a container — can be hard if you have joint pain and swelling.

 

Kitchen Hacks for Cooking With Arthritis

 

Preparation and Planning Come First

A Complete Illustrated Guide to Cooking With Arthritis

 

“When you have a disease like this, you have to plan,” Winner says.

She recommends shopping early in the morning when grocery stores aren’t crowded and employees are available to help you lift or reach certain items.

Winner likes to prep ahead, sometimes getting all the ingredients together for several meals at a time. Then she spreads out the actual cooking. “You can’t overdo it, or you’ll be too tired,” Winner says.

 

Customize Your Kitchen

 

A few simple modifications in the kitchen can make a big difference if you have arthritis.

Here are some of Winner’s favorite kitchen hacks, along with the most useful tips I’ve found:

 

Get a Lazy Susan

Turntables are great for storing spices and canned items so you don’t have to reach for them.

 

Example: mDesign 2 Level Lazy Susan

 

 

Put Everything on Wheels

Winner uses carts to transport items from one end of the kitchen to the other. “If I’m going to move a pot, I put it on a stand with wheels because I can’t lift it,” she says.

 

Example: Seville Classics All-Purpose Utility Cart

 

Use an Apple Corer

An apple corer can be handy for more than just coring apples. You can slice vegetables by placing the corer over the food you’re cutting and using your forearms and body weight (instead of your hands) to push through.

 

Example: This Sierra Apple Slicer has ergonomic rubber-grip handles.

 

 

Corncob Holders are Versatile Helpers

Corn cob holders are handy gadgets that can keep food stationary, so it doesn’t slide while you’re cutting. For instance, Winner uses them to hold carrots in place during slicing.

Example: These OXO Good Grips Interlocking Corn Holders have a comfortable grip.

 

Put a Ribbon on your Fridge

Many people with swollen joints have trouble opening their refrigerator door. “What I recommend is tying a large ribbon or scarf around the door handle,” says Winner. “Then I slide my arm in and use the weight of my body to open the refrigerator.”

 

Keep a Stool Nearby

If you’re spending a long time standing in the kitchen, chances are you’re going to tire out. Winner recommends a stool for breaks. Another option is to try an anti-fatigue cushioned floor mat.

 

Example: Boss Office Products Stool

 

Use Cookbooks as Props

Winner keeps a stack of cookbooks on her kitchen counter and uses them to prop up her arms if they get tired.

 

Hang Your Pots

Placing your pots and pans on a hanging rack will lessen the number of times you’ll need to stoop down to grab something.  “Without a pot rack, I’m not sure I would cook as much,” Winner says.

 

This VDOMUS Pot Rack will keep all your pots and pans handy.

 

 

Use a Handheld Mixer

A lightweight handheld mixer can be used for mixing a variety of items, such as whisking eggs.  You can find appliances with detachable components that can do the work of both a food processor and a mixer.

 

Betitay Immersion Blender, 4-in-1 Multifunctional Hand Blender,Single-Hand Operation Food Processor Chopper, Stepless Speed Regulation Smart Stick Blender Handheld Mixer for Shakes and Smoothies
This Betitay 4-in-1 Immersion Blender will handle all your whisking, chopping and blending.

 

 

 

 

Use Padded Handles on Grocery Bags

You can attach padded handles to plastic grocery bags for easier carrying of your groceries.

 

Grocery Bag Holder Handle Carrier Tool,Magnolian 2 Pack Extra-large D-Shape Super-handy Snap Hook Hanger, Mommy Hook Carry Handle With Soft Foam Grip
This Magnolora 2-pack Handle Carrier Tool with padded handles makes carrying multiple bags and other items more comfortable.

 

 

Stand on a Comfortable Foam Mat

Put down a foam comfort mat in front of the sink and counter so you can stand with greater comfort.

The Comfort Anti-Fatigue Mat  from Sky Solutions, made with patented Sky Core Foam™ creates a perfect blend of support and softness for standing all day in the kitchen or office. It comes in a variety of sizes and colors to suit your kitchen.

 

 

 

Hooks are Handy

Use hooks to store pots and pans within reach, so you don’t have to stoop or reach into low cupboards.

 

Use a Grabber Tool

Keep a grabber tool handy to help you reach out-of-the-way items with ease.

 

This 36″ Nifty Nabber reaches and grabs items that are out of reach.

 

No need to climb up on the step ladder.

 

 

Choose Magnetized Measuring Cups and Spoons

Magnetized measuring cups and spoons that connect to each other means you you won’t have to rummage and dig around for them individually.

 

These Magnetic Measuring Cups from Progressive snap together or onto any metal object.

 

You’ll never have to dig around for this set of 5 Magnetic Measuring Spoons from Progressive. Like the cups above, they snap together or onto any metal object.

 

 

Use a Rubber or Automated Jar Opener

Many people with arthritis in their hands know the frustration of trying to open jars. If a rubber jar opener is still too difficult to use, consider getting an electric jar opener.

 

This RtreeK Jar Opener is designed specifically for weak or arthritic hands, and has excellent reviews.

 

This Hamilton Beach Automatic Jar Opener provides effortless, push-button opening.

 

 

Make Sure You Have a Food Processor and a Mandolin

Chopping is so much easier with a food processor, different types of slicers, or a mandolin, which do the chopping for you.

 

Reviewers love this 6-in-1 Chopper Blender Set, which seems to do just about everything!

 

 

Choose Knives With Large Soft Grips

When cutting or chopping by hand, look for cutting knives with large, soft grips or knives with the handle in an upright or overhead position to give you better leverage.

And don’t forget to keep your knives sharpened, so they require less effort to use. Also use spoons and spatulas with soft-grip handles. In fact, you can find options like this for just about any cooking or eating utensil.

 

Example: Kyocera Innovation Series Knives have a unique soft grip ergonomic handle that fits in hand comfortably and provides an easy grip for safe handling, comfort and control.

 

 

Use Easy-Grip Pot and Pan Grip Handles

 

These Zoopoir Silicone Pot and Pan Sleeves make handling your cookware more comfortable.

Cooking Should Be Fun!

 

Melinda Winner credits getting back into the kitchen as part of her healing. Things were different but she slowly started to learn new ways of doing things that allowed her to adapt, whether it was using other parts of her body to lift pots and pans, or using special tools designed for people with RA.  

In addition to specific tips above, she also recommends:

 

Making Modifications

Try to incorporate other parts of your body in the lifting process. For example, use your shoulder to help get platters on the top shelf of the refrigerator. Choose to sit instead of stand when doing prep work such as peeling potatoes or shelling peas.

 

Respecting Your Limits

Cook at the time of day that works best for your energy levels. On good days, try to prepare extra food and freeze it so you can still eat healthy even on days when you cannot cook. And on bad days when you’re not feeling well, give your body time to rest!

 

 

Recommended Reading

So much in life is beyond our control, but we have more control over chronic inflammation and pain than many of us realize. 

I recommend The Anti Inflammatory Diet and Action Plans as the most complete meal plan and cookbook for fighting inflammation through the power of food and nutrition.

This book will show you how to reduce inflammation naturally and heal the conditions that frequently occur as a result, such as arthritis, autoimmune conditions, food allergies, gastrointestinal distress, and more.

 

The Anti-Inflammatory Diet & Action Plans by Dorothy Calimeris & Sondi Bruner

 

The Anti Inflammatory Diet and Action Plans offers:

  • Over 130 delicious, easy-prep recipes that feature affordable ingredients, minimal prep time, and hundreds of useful tips
  • 4 flexible anti inflammatory diet plans to fit your needs and tastes, including choices for Vegan, Paleo, Mediterranean, and Time-Saving diets
  • Knowledgeable guidance from food writer and healthy eating expert, Dorothy Calimeris, as well as holistic nutritionist and food blogger, Sondi Bruner
  • Helpful food lists and nutritional information will help you make smart food choices and stick to your anti inflammatory diet

 

I highly recommend it.

 

 

A diagnosis arthritis or other inflammatory condition doesn’t mean you can’t do the things you love.  Follow the treatment plan prescribed by your specialist, and continue to pursue your passions.

You’re going to have both good and bad days, says Winner, so don’t be too hard on yourself.

“You have to have a positive attitude,” she says. “If you don’t, your disease wins.”

If you’re not feeling well, don’t overexert yourself in the kitchen. Cooking should be an enjoyable experience. For Winner, it’s downright therapeutic.

“I find a lot of relief in cooking. There’s some kind of deep, inner accomplishment when you can make something that puts smiles on people’s faces and you know you did it despite what you’ve been through,” she says.

 

Luckily, there are lots of adaptive kitchen tools available, which can ease your pain and get you back to enjoying preparing and eating homemade meals.

Please share your own thoughts and tips!

-Laurie

 

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Russell
Russell
2 years ago

I guess that over the years Winner has been able to develop the adaptations that were necessary for her to remain active in the kitchen. Cudos to her and thanks for the tips. I will share with others I may come across who are also suffering with this form of arthritis

admin
Admin
2 years ago
Reply to  Russell

Thanks for your comment, Russel!

Alejandra
Alejandra
2 years ago

What a great article!
I can remember how my granny used to tell me that cooking wasn’t for her anymore, she had arthritis.
She wasn’t lucky to see all these good ideas that can help people who are suffering with this inflammatory condition and they need to stop doing what they love to do.
I just met two young girls who are facing this condition on its early stage, I will forward your article to them.

admin
Admin
2 years ago
Reply to  Alejandra

Thanks for your comment, Alejandra!

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