Eating and Cooking Tips For People With Pain Or Illness

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.

Eating and cooking tips for people with pain or illness. Back pain, trigeminal neuralgia, face pain, fatigue can mean eating and cooking are difficult

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.

Trigeminal neuralgia, extreme face pain, can make eating food very difficult.
  • 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.

Kitchen Tips

Cooking tips for people living with pain or illness. Make life easier in the kitchen.
  • 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.

Sausage casserole recipe. Simple to cook, easy to eat.

Ingredients
Sausages
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.

Broccoli cheese soup

Comfort Food

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.

Menu board. Comfort food.

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.

29 thoughts on “Eating and Cooking Tips For People With Pain Or Illness

  1. This is SO good, lots of great tips! I’ve been struggling more since my last surgery, and, awful as it is to admit, I can’t remember the last time I had what I’d consider a ‘proper’ meal, it’s been months. I’ve become better at snacking and eating small but regular things, but when dinner time comes around I don’t feel in the mood for eating, I’m utterly exhausted and in too much pain to even consider it. Doing things like batch cooking, so you can prepare things earlier in the day or at times you’re feeling more capable, could be very helpful. And I absolutely agree, don’t feel bad about using convenience foods when you need to, it’s still better than nothing and we have to do what we can when dealing with chronic illness and pain. Fab post!
    Caz xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Caz. You had such a tough time with that surgery. It takes a long time sometimes to fully recover, so you’re probably still healing. Maybe small, regular meals is what your body needs just now. But, yes, batch cooking is really helpful. I’d be lost without my freezer. For people who can’t manage to cook meals, convenience foods are a necessity, aren’t they?

      Like

  2. For me, cooking is a good thing to do as it’s something I can do standing up. I have to have the energy to do it though. When I’m tired I just can’t be bothered. It takes a lot of energy and concentration to think things through and get the meal right. You include some really good tips though and I like the sound of your recipes. I do love a good sausage casserole 😃

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, that’s right, you struggle with sitting. That must be so difficult for you. Cooking really does take up a lot of energy, doesn’t it? Yes, the good old sausage casserole – really can’t go far wrong with that.

      Like

  3. sjd68

    Everyone struggles with different levels of pain so I appreciate the tips provided such as cooking in large amounts. That way you can be done in one time as opposed to numerous times over the stove. The work and time you put into helping those in pain should be applauded. And I’m stealing your sausage casserole recipe The family will think I got inventive. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Not only do I have the amazing privilege of being included in this post, I also love how I always learn something new when reading your blog, Elizabeth! Since I have friends who deal with the same things you do, I have a much deeper understanding of what they go through and I can send them here to find new ways of coping, or even just a positive place of understanding.

    This post hits close to home for me because I’ve had my jaw dislocated and subsequently it has happened many times since that first one, on accident. Once the damage is done, it is so easy to continue. There have been times where soup is my best friend because that is about the only thing I can eat when my mouth will not open completely and chewing is almost impossible.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Erica, for allowing me to add your link. I hope people try your soup recipe.

      Oh, a dislocated jaw. That must be so painful. I’ve heard that once it happens, it will happen frequently. I’m so sorry you live with that.

      Like

  5. I can kind of relate to your teeth pain and that is because I have been on braces and I still remrmeber how eating was painful. Even talking was! As my braces gave me ulcers inside my mouth. Anyways…these cooking tips will be helpful for people dealing with pain. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. By Joanna K

    I remember I had a colleague who used to blend her warm meals, like macaroni and cheese. She enjoyed that. And I’ve just seen a photo of a young woman in a wheelchair, training to be chef. She sits at a table low enough to do her job. So, there can be a solution to any challenge in life.
    This article does raise awareness of the challenges of cooking and eating when in pain.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. These are good tips for everyone. I, too, cook in large amounts and freeze meals. It makes life so much easier on busy school nights. You are absolutely correct–soft foods do not have to be bland. Smoothies and soups are great ideas for light meals.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I appreciate that you have figured out what works best for you and have found inventive ways to modify your diet and preparation. Even without pain, meal prep can become a bore and finding systems that work for your life help. One thing that I love is to cook with others. Gathering with friends and cooking together is a favorite pass time.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Your posts are always so informative, and shows your resolve to embrace your life and manage your pain with a positive attitude and dignity. I love your walk-through on how to achieve specific things and the troubleshooting advice. I totally can eat all of the soft foods you mentioned without thinking of them as a fill-in for something better. I also think that second-day food tastes better!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Lyosha Varezhkina

    It is so helpful! You approach issues with pain on a whole different level. Proper food sure helps. it’s important not only to have it good for you, soft of example but also delicious. I hope your family treats you with special delicious food often enough

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Pingback: How to be Positive When Living With Pain – Despite Pain

  12. Pingback: How Chronic Pain or Illness is Affected by Stress – Despite Pain

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