Kate Lawson’s top tips for cooking with arthritis
In an era dominated by aspirational cooking shows it’s easy to forget how hard it can be to achieve even the most basic of culinary tasks when suffering from arthritis. One person who knows this better than anyone is Kate Lawson who was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis at the tender age of 26.
But Kate refused to let her disease stand in the way of her passion and has since set up an inspiring and insightful blog called Cooking With Arthur. We caught up with Kate to find out her top five cooking tips for those suffering from the disease to give you the confidence to get into the kitchen even if your arthritis is acting up.
1. Be prepared
It’s amazing how many people have their kitchen set up the way it’s always been. You need to take a step back sometimes and ask why all my pots and pans are down by my feet. I’m guilty of it as well, I find that something is too high so I have to get a chair to get it. So look at the space you’re working in and ask yourself if it’s really set up for your needs. If not, get someone to help you sort it out.
2. Plan Ahead
Flares catch up on you. One of the really annoying things is you can’t predict when you’re going to flare. Even someone like me who is an enthusiastic cook, has days when I think “Ergh!”. So rather than fall back on a bowl of cereal have things that you’ve put in the freezer, that you’ve made up in advance. Have a couple of no-chop fail-safe recipes that you can whisk up in a hurry without thinking about it. Keep lots of frozen veg in your freezer, packets of cooked rice, tins of beans. Things that are always accessible.
3. Get some good gadgets
They don’t have to be expensive. Think about the tasks you find hardest. Not what others find hard, because you might not have trouble with your wrists, you might have thumb problems. Take the time to invest in items that help you with those really difficult tasks. For me it’s a stick blender, I can’t be without one and I like a mandolin for chopping vegetables.
4. Keep your knives sharp
It’s something I always tell people when doing demonstrations. A safe knife is a sharp knife. One of the most difficult things with arthritis can be pushing down on the blade. With a blunt knife that’s so much more difficult and you are more likely to slip and cut yourself. Use the best tools possible. Look at your cookware. Find some double-handed pans that are nice and light. They can be multi-use so they can fry and boil.
5. Cut yourself some slack Make sure you enjoy it
One of the things I found with arthritis is there are days where I’m going to drop every bowl in the kitchen or I’m going to get halfway through cooking something and think “I can’t do this”. Some days I’m just going to eat a can of beans because I’m not feeling up to sticking to a healthy diet that day. The important thing is to enjoy it, cooking should be something you take pleasure from and not something you push yourself to do if you’re not feeling well. It’s meant to be enjoyable not frustrating. The most important thing is you’re getting something out of it. It’s improving your day without arthritis ruining it.
Next week Kate tells us all about how she came to terms with and copes with her arthritis.