Controlling Pain While You Cook
One of the most difficult tasks to do when you are in pain is to prepare a meal. Yet, cooking is probably the most important thing you can do because cooking nutritious meals can help you control pain. Homemade meals put you in control of the ingredients. Thus, you can eliminate potential pain triggers like flavor enhancers, control the glycemic load, and add essential nutrients like Omega-3. Especially during the holidays, a little homemade touch can also be so comforting for family and friends. But oh what a price to pay; after cooking a large holiday meal, you might just collapse with pain and exhaustion.
Instead of avoiding the kitchen, now is the perfect time to plan a way to control pain while you cook. Here are six ways to help you control pain while you cook.
Make or Stage Dishes Ahead of Time: Sit down and look at your meal plan. Break it down into things that can be made ahead of time and things that can be staged before the big day. For example, cranberries can be made in advance because they keep well in the refrigerator. Pies can be made the day before and might even taste better the day after being baked because the flavors melt together. Other things can be staged like the stuffing. Chopping the onions and celery can be done days in advance when using cold storage. Mixing the butter, broth and day-old bread can all be done a few days in advance if put in cold storage. Then all that is needed to do the day of the meal is to bake the stuffing. If you break the meal into bite-sized tasks, then you do not have to kill yourself to do everything at once on the same day.
Why Stand When You Can Sit: The reason why cooking is so painful for most people is the prolonged periods of time standing and walking around. Try moving that cutting board to the table and chop while sitting. Try moving those green beans to the living room and snap while sitting or reclining. Remember to sit properly and get up properly when it is time to stand up. If you find alternative ways to do some meal preparation tasks, you will be able to control pain while cooking.
Lean On Your High Counter Top: Especially if you have low back pain, leaning on a high counter top with both hands bearing some of your weight can help take some pressure away from the spine joints (the facets). If you do this tractioning technique frequently for 10 to 15 seconds at a time, you are less likely to boil over with pain.
Find Comfortable Positions: Sometimes the pain intensity will reduce in certain positions. Those with back pain may find that putting a foot up on a stool while sitting or standing eases back pain because drawing a knee closer to the chest is sometimes a more comfortable position. Play around with different body positions while you cook by using available furniture, step stools, books or pillows. Frequently changing body positions while you cook can greatly improve the way you feel.
Ask For Help: Many people do not like to ask for help for various reasons, including pride, shyness, or politeness. Well throw that “Miss Manners” attitude out the window and ask your guests for help. People are more understanding than you may realize. Just because you are the host or hostess does not mean that your guest should not have to lift a finger while you are blinded with pain. Go ahead, be brave, and ask for help.
Take Breaks: Do not try to do everything at once. Set your timer for every hour and take a 10 to 20 minute break in your favorite chair - like a zero gravity chair. Pacing yourself with frequent breaks can help you endure cooking while in pain.
Well I can probably go on and on about how to control pain while cooking. I have spent a few holidays collapsed in my recliner unable to move after preparing my family a heartwarming meal. I love to cook but I have learned the hard way that I need to work with my body in order to keep pain from ruining another good meal. So if you love to cook and value the nutritional benefits of preparing your own meal, try some of my strategies or find some other strategies that will help you control pain while you cook.
Happy Healthy Holidays to You
Christina Lasich, M.D., wrote about chronic pain and osteoarthritis for HealthCentral. She is physiatrist in Grass Valley, California. She specializes in pain management and spine rehabilitation.