It is so important for people to eat well, but especially so when living with a health condition.
Food is Fuel For Our Bodies
The medical advice is to to have a varied diet with a wide range of nutrients. Food is like fuel, providing us with energy and helping our bodies work to the best of their abilities.
However, when living with a health problem, it’s not always easy to eat or to cook. Chronic pain or illness is exhausting. Cooking is exhausting and can be painful. Eating can also be exhausting and with some conditions, extremely painful.
No matter what health condition we are dealing with, eating habits are often impacted in some way.
Trigeminal Neuralgia Makes Eating Difficult
My face, especially my teeth, are constantly painful due to trigeminal neuralgia. This makes eating difficult at times. Some days it might just be uncomfortable, others extremely painful. On a better day, it just takes something to be too hot, too cold, too chewy and the better day turns to a bad day.
On bad days, soft food is definitely a better option. That doesn’t mean a diet of mashed potatoes, yoghurts or apple sauce every day. Thankfully, soft food doesn’t have to be boring and bland. I still want to excite my tastebuds.
- Eggs are soft and easy to eat and can be cooked in a multitude of ways.
- Fish is soft and requires virtually no chewing.
- Meat can be cooked slowly for a few hours until it becomes melt-in-mouth, soft and delicious.
- Soups are tasty and nutritious and can be blended until they’re smooth and easier to swallow.
- Fruit smoothies have the goodness from the fruit, but without having to bite and chew. Add in some raw vegetables for extra vitamins and minerals.
- Oatmeal, rice pudding, custard and semolina can be easy to eat and nutritious, especially if topped with pureed fruit.
- Absolutely anything can be blended if you can’t chew food.
Sometimes, even soft food is difficult to eat. My dentist prescribed me with a strong throat numbing mouthwash and spray, which I can use prior to eating or drinking on those days. It numbs my mouth a little bit, allowing me to eat. It does, unfortunately, spoil the flavour of food, but at least I know that I am getting good nutrition. (A local anaesthetic spray could also help, but ensure it’s one that can be used inside your mouth.)
If you’re struggling to eat due to your pain, speak to your doctor, because a medication change might help.
Back Pain Makes Cooking Difficult
My back pain makes cooking difficult. Standing is often extremely painful, meaning that cooking a proper meal is impossible. Cooking is far from enjoyable if I’m in so much pain.
I try to cook, but at times, I have pushed myself so hard that by the time the meal is ready (or before it), I need to lie down. And then, I am in too much pain to even think about eating. The reward of cooking a nice meal is that I’m unable to eat it.
However, I’ve learned a lot of tips over the years to cope better. The biggest one is having a husband who helps and also enjoys cooking.
- Cook in large amounts. One lot of preparation means one lot of cooking. Then freeze in portions for those days when cooking isn’t possible.
- Pace yourself. Do everything in stages. Prepare, rest, prepare.
- If you’ve room in your kitchen, sit at a table to prepare food. If you’ve no room, use a folding stool to save standing.
- Buy preprepared fresh or frozen vegetables.
- Make use of kitchen gadgets to make life easier – vegetable choppers, food processors, blenders, food mixers, slow-cookers and electric can openers.
- Cook in a slow cooker for delicious food without having to stand watch over a stove.
- Cook one pot meals to save on washing.
- Never feel guilty about using convenience foods. Everyone loves freshly cooked food, but it’s just not always possible for people with health problems.
Note the first tip in my list – cook in large amounts. My husband and I cook enough food to feed a small army. There are only the two of us in the house, but doing this makes life so much easier. Today’s dinner, tomorrow’s dinner (second day food often tastes nicer) and a few containers in the freezer. On the days when my husband is busy, I can take a container from the freezer in the morning, and it just needs to be reheated at dinner time.
There are some more kitchen tips here on a blog written by a friend which you might find helpful.
Simple to Cook, Easy to Eat
I believe it’s so important to try to eat well and by putting a few simple ingredients into a pot, we can create healthy, nourishing food. One of my favourite meals is a sausage casserole. It’s very simple to make. It freezes really well too, meaning you have a home cooked meal for another day.
Red onions, halved and sliced
Sweet red peppers, chopped
Tinned tomatoes or tomato passata
Smoked sweet paprika powder
Salt and pepper
I purposely haven’t given amounts, because it’s one of those recipes that you can make to suit yourself. And if you have something in the fridge needing used and you think it would go well, add it in. You could add beans, sweet potatoes or just about anything.
To cook – brown the onions, add the sausages, stir them around in the pan until they just start to cook, then add everything else. Simmer gently in a pan on the hob for about an hour and a half. You could also cook it in an oven or in a slowcooker.
It’s delicious and it’s easy to eat, even when my face is hurting badly. It makes me feel good. I consider it comfort food. Healthy comfort food.
Simply Scrumptious Soup
And talking of comfort food, nothing says comfort more than a bowl of warm, homemade soup. Chicken, lentil, leek and potato are some of my favourites. Erica, a blogging friend, makes a delicious broccoli and cheese soup. You can find the recipe here. Do take a look at her other recipes too. I read them and my mouth starts watering – they all look so good.
Sometimes we need comfort food, don’t we?
A few weeks ago, I asked my Twitter followers about their go-to comfort foods. The answers were many and varied. Amongst them were porridge oats, French toast, chicken soup, Sunday roasts, mince and potatoes, pasta, yoghurt, jaffa cakes, ice cream…and chocolate. Can’t forget chocolate, can we? We do need a sweet treat sometimes
Here’s my take on comfort food. Every food we eat should bring comfort. It should bring us enjoyment and make us feel good mentally and physically. Food isn’t just fuel to feed our bodies. It’s also feeding our souls.
And comfort food doesn’t have to be calorific and full of carbs. Like my sausage casserole and Erica’s soup, it can also be healthy and nourishing.
Do you have a favourite go-to comfort food?
Do you have any helpful tips for making life easier in the kitchen?
Please leave a comment below, or comment on this post on my facebook page.
As always, thank you for reading and sharing my post.