Whatever challenges you’re facing in your own life you can: own it, honor it, and have fun with it.
If you’ve experienced chronic illness or fatigue, you know that cooking meals from scratch isn’t always an easy. Especially when navigating medical treatments and symptom flare-ups, maintaining a healing diet while healing can be a challenge. But real food is real medicine, so making nourishing meals has always been a top priority for me.
Easy to make (and digest!) recipes are staples in our home, as is self-care. So here’s my tips for everyday cooking while navigating chronic illness and chronic fatigue…
My everyday fair is always easy. My formula for creating simple, nourishing meals is this: fresh ingredients, drizzled with fat or oil, sprinkled with salt. Sometimes I’ll add a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of chopped herbs for extra flavor. That’s it. I take a couple minutes to plate my food so it looks nice, but I don’t bother with complicated recipes (unless I’m up for it.)
When using local, seasonal, fresh ingredients, there’s no need to create fancy sauces or dressings. Real food tastes amazing just is.
Find recipes that are quick and easy, or that allow for longer cooking time so you can rest while your food cooks. Best cooking methods for tired days: baking, simmering, and pressure cooking. These are my go-to’s because they allow me to sit or lay down after the initial prep-work. Just be sure to set a timer so you know when you need to get up again!
Here are a few of my favorite tools for adopting a more fatigue-friendly cooking style:
- The Instant Pot. I use this Every. Single. Day. Learn more about why this one piece of kitchen equipment was a chronic illness gamer changer HERE.
- Stainless Steel Baking Sheets. Non-stick is way ick! Opt for non-toxic sheet pans for all your baking.
- Emersion Blender/Wisk. Blending soups or sauces in the pot you cooked them in saves time and reduces the number of dishes for clean up.
- 5 Blade Mandolin. Using a mandolin to cut vegetables is so much easier than doing it by hand. Plus it’s the only way to get perfectly even slices for making fool-proof veggie chips.
- Electric Grater. I got one of these for Christmas last year, and I gotta say, I love it. Since getting it I’ve been making all varieties of vegetable hash-browns!
Pressure cooked veggies are a staple for me; they’re easy to make & easy to digest.
Ask for help.
If you live with others, ask them to help you, either with the prep, actual cooking, clean up, or all three. Ask nicely and most people, especially if you live with loved ones, will be happy to oblige. Just be sure to thank them for their help! You can also ask friends, family, or members of your church or community to help out by scheduling batch-cooking get togethers, or as I like to call them “kitchen play dates.”
Having batch-cooking parties followed by a big family-style meal helps a lot and is a lot of fun too. To create your own, pick out recipes in advance and send links or shopping lists to who ever RSVP’s. Instead of focusing on needing help, think of it as planning a pot luck party were people come over and cook dishes instead of bringing them.
Wonderhub’s help is a key ingredient in many of my meals.
Find ways that make everyday cooking easy for you based on your individual needs and challenges. If you get tired from standing, put a stool in the kitchen (I got creative and use our recycling bin with a pillow on top) or bring your prep work to a table where you can comfortably sit down.
When there’s a more “labor intensive” aspect of food preparation, such as picking tiny thyme leaves off their stems in my Thyme Scented Creamy Fennel & Asparagus Soup recipe, acknowledge your fluctuating energy levels and get cozy before getting started. That way you’re taking care of yourself from start (the prep) to finish (the nourishing meal.)
Good health starts in the kitchen, even before you start the actual cooking.
It’s easy to focus on our pain or fatigue, especially when we’re pushing ourselves and would rather be resting than chopping. But real food and healthy home cooking is at the foundation of physical wellness, so instead of letting myself be in a funk, I make it fun.
My favorite way to have food-fun is to pick out an album I can sing-along with. Oh yeah baby, it’s karaoke time! Even though I love cooking, I know if I push myself, I won’t be having fun. But sitting down for Food Prep Karaoke? That’s a blast.
By bringing loving-awareness to the realities of life with chronic illness, we open the door to new and joyful possibilities.
As part of my healing journey I’ve learned to prepare new foods, in new ways, and discovered the pleasure of eating a simple, whole foods diet. By making a few adjustment to how I cook, and staying mindful of how I feel, I’ve made real food home cooking an easy and fun part of my everyday healing.
I hope my tips are helpful for you. If you’ve got any suggestions for finding ease in everyday cooking, share them in the comments! I look forward to hearin’ from ya!
May you eat well, live well & be well! Loads of veggies & laughs Xx Kat
“Since we are forced to nourish ourselves, why to do it with…ever-increasing enjoyment.” ~ M. F. K. Fisher
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