When You Cook for a Living
Brandi Brewer, a self-described “nanny-plus,” has also incorporated many of Dodge’s recommendations into her job. Her job is half child care, half shopping and cooking. “On average, I cook 11 or 12 meals a week, while caring for an 11-year-old and a 14-year-old. When they’re at school, I also tidy the house and make the beds.” That’s a lot of hours on her feet – some of them spent on a hard kitchen floor. To ease the pressure on her back and hips, she uses a soft, cushiony kitchen mat.
Brewer, 45, who lives and works in Kansas City, Missouri, was diagnosed with PsA just five years ago (more than 20 years after developing psoriasis). Since then, she has cut back on her weekly work hours from 40 to 30. Aware that she needs more rest nowadays, she foresees cutting back even more next year. But for now, she’s doing well, with a little help from her favorite kitchen tools.
Brewer uses a mini-chopper and an electric jar-opener, just as Dodge advises, but she also has her own tried-and-true kitchen helpers that have seen her through 16 years of cooking for families.
“My number-one item is a high-quality, extra-sharp chef’s knife,” she says. “That allows me to cut right through an uncooked spaghetti squash without missing a beat.”
Brewer’s A-list of Kitchen Utensils
- A sturdy wooden cutting board with rubber grips on the bottom
- A sharp Y-peeler with wide handles
- Kitchen shears, mainly for cutting hard-to-open\ plastic bags
- A vegetable spiralizer
- A food processor with slicer blades for shredding meat or chicken
- A KitchenAid mixer with a paddle attachment
But with all the tools and techniques in the world, there’s no substitute for smart, proactive self-care, says Brewer: “If my hands hurt when I get up in the morning, I take an anti-inflammatory right away. And at the end of the day, I soak in Epsom salts and rub in cream wherever I hurt. Mainly, I try to get enough sleep. That’s the most important thing I can do for myself.”
Dodge agrees that self-care is vital. If you have PsA, she says, know your body. Know its limits. And know what it needs in the kitchen and beyond so that you can do everything on your to-do list, including whipping up a gourmet meal – or whatever your passion happens to be.
Tonia Tomlin’s kitchen could easily win awards for its beauty, efficiency and organization. That’s no accident. Tomlin is a professional home organizer who runs Sorted Out, a Dallas-based company. “We work with people with many types of disabilities,” says Tomlin, who draws heavily on her own experience to find ways to help others: She has PsA herself.
“Start by having everything you need at hip level,” she says, “including your counter. Also consider buying pull-out drawer inserts that free you from having to reach into a drawer to get what you need.” Find them and other ergonomic kitchen products at Revashelf, she suggests.
Tomlin’s Guidelines for a Clutter-free Kitchen
- Reserve counter space for only your top three or four items.
- Put Lazy Susans in the pantry for spices, oils, vinegars and other non-refrigerated items.
- Stash lids in one place with a pull-out organizer.
- Opt for clear storage containers with a push-button opener on top to avoid struggling with lids. Bonus: The containers will keep tea, coffee, flour, sugar and other non-perishables fresh.
By Margaret Willig Crane for NPF
More Help with PsA
From navigating the kitchen to managing painful PsA symptoms, the National Psoriasis Foundation has resources to help. Get a free PsA kit from our Patient Navigation Center.