Question Time: Eating for PWD

The question today is: How do you eat?

You might have an energy-stealing condition, chronic pain, atypical concentration or motor function, or something else that means frequent shopping and hours over a hot stove doesn’t work for you.

What are your go-to meals and recipes? Do you have a few three- or four-ingredient meals you bung in the crockpot? (I adore my crockpot!) Do you have meals you can prep and freeze, then throw in the oven when needed? Go-to recipes prepped in ten minutes or less from ingredients you keep in stock? What assistive devices, aids, and appliances help you in the kitchen?

Or do you have a favourite pre-prepared frozen meal, or takeaway meal? Does your local pizza place know you by heart?

Share your notes and recipes here for nourishing your body when your spoons are low.

(No diet or health judgement of others in this thread, please. Food is food. Nutritious food is food that is eaten. End of story.)

48 thoughts on “Question Time: Eating for PWD

  1. It gets more fun when you not only have difficulties getting things cooked, you also have trigger foods that will cause intestinal spasms and deny you any nutrients of the food you do eat.

    We often keep a set of safe (organic, no onion, no milk, no heavy spices, no grease and low fat) microwavable foods in the freezer (when we can afford to) and generally try to switch off for cooking depending on who has more energy and is in less pain.
    .-= genderbitch´s last blog ..Murphy’s Law And Disability: The Week From Hell =-.

  2. I’ve recently segued into always cooking for myself in a singular sense of late, and so it’s been a bit of a challenge (especially sharing a kitchen…Bene’s OCD goes a bit off the charts…and being in a foreign country). I do try to have a fruit or veg with each meal as I need the textural variety as well as vitamins. I’ve been trying to eat free range meat whenever I can, but it’s been expensive, too, so…my guilt sinks in a little. A lot of times I’ve been doing stirfrys with the premade sauces they sell over here. There’s been a major salt-reduction movement here in the UK of late, so they’re not too bad in terms of dehydrating me (and then the migraines hit). I also keep a bag of fresh pasta in the freezer so I can just grab a lump out and cook it with some butter or tomato sauce or something. Also, digestive biscuits and coffee.

    I used to cook more from recipes. I did just adapt a Mark Bittman recipe for braised carrots from How to Cook Everything, so maybe I’ll share that, just need to check measurement conversions so it’s good for everyone who might be interested.

  3. For breakfast and lunch I always eat the exact same each day: apple + bowl of yoghurt for breakfast, and “ontbijtkoek” (I have never seen it anywhere else, sometimes they say it’s the same as ginger cake, but it’s not) and a handful of nuts for lunch. My lunch is what I need to eat to keep my IBS under some control. I can eat most other stuff as long as I also eat that, though there are a few foods that cause trouble for me even if I also eat my regular lunch (unfortunately, I really like some of those). They also keep for months so I can buy them in bulk and bring a few with me on holidays, since the ontbijtkoek is only sold here.
    I can’t eat any raw citrus fruits or pineapple because of a citrus allergy :S (I got heaps of allergies).

    I don’t have a lot of trouble cooking right now, so most evenings I cook. Sometimes my partner cooks (I prefer to do it myself because I’m simply better at it, but he takes over when I can’t do it). I have trouble getting food in the house though (supermarkets, other kinds of shopping). Mostly my partner shops, sometimes I go with. I also have trouble with timing, time in general (I suppose that’s part of the dyscalculia but i tcan be a bit hard to figure out what is caused by what…), so we eat meals where it doesn’t matter if one part of it is done way before other parts etc. Mostly this works because we don’t really care if stuff isn’t all ready at the same time.
    I never make any really large meals or several course meals or anything where timing really matters (I mean where I’m preparing several dishes at once, I can make, for example, a cake where timing is sensitive if I’m ONLY making that cake and really really concentrating and lots of advance preparation.).

    We buy food on Thursdays or Fridays, for a week at a time. We have a set list of meals we like to eat, and pick about 7 of them to put on the shopping list. We always make sure to have a few microwave meals or very very easy to prepare meals for difficult days. We can also make meals that we can eat from for 2 days in a row. We always make sure to have a few meals that use ingredients that keep for a long time, because you never know if we’ll be able to prepare them at all this week. We prepare the meals with ingredients that perish quickly first. Every now and then we order food. There are online services for this now where you can also pay in advance, so I can do this when alone too since I don’t have to use the phone or interact with the people who deliver it, I only have to open the door, stick my hands out, take the food from them, and close the door. Still a tall order for me, but easier than cooking on days where that is too hard.

    Easy meals are meals that take 10-20 minutes to prepare or that I only have to stick into the oven and wait and that go in one pan or bowl.

    I now have a rice cooker, that is going to help a lot.

    I like making stuff like pancakes even though I have to stand a lot, because it’s something I can make for many people at once and I can make stuff to put on it in advance.
    I like stuff where I can make most of it in advance in general and then just finish it off or prepare o nelast part of it right before eating, because then I might be able to make it for guests on the occasions where they come over to eat (not often, for several reasons).

  4. @ Bene – you eat digestives and coffee as well? lol, nice to meet someone else in the zone…

    Food is an ongoing concern for me – I need it, absolutely need it, to function. Otherwise I get headaches and I can’t see straight, and I’m even worse at processing information that I usually am…..the list goes on.

    I quite like cooking, so what I do is when I have free time, I cook up a batch of basic tomato pasta sauce (literally just onions, garlic, and tomatoes)and keep it for when I’m tired or in a hurry – it can be cooked right out of the freezer, and it has the advantage that I’m getting vegetables and carbs (from the pasta)

    The problem with this is that I am *very* weak…I can only carry a certain amount, so I practise what I call ‘replacement shopping’ (replacing things as they run out rather than waiting until I have a substantial shopping list) of course, this takes a substantial amount of time and of course, I get a lot of grief from other people who just. don’t. get it.


  5. I eat a lot of quick stuff, pasta and rice-based meals, but mostly that’s because I am impatient and only start cooking when I’m already hungry. Dinner is often tricky for me, though, because other people are usually around in the kitchen and towards the end of the day I’m often too drained to want to contemplate the social interaction and the pressure of keeping myself together. So I try and make sure I have food in my room – apples, chocolate, anything really – so that I don’t end up going 24 hours without food because I can’t leave my room. It’s not ideal, because really I’d prefer hot meals and a more varied diet, but it’s a good stopgap while I live with other people.

  6. Rea, having had the same problem when I lived with roommates…have you explored any of the self-heating foods they make for campers? I found them a really great stopgap when I didn’t want to set foot in the kitchen, but I wanted something hot. They stay stable at room temperature for quite a while, too, so you can keep a little stash handy.

  7. I have problems remembering to eat. That was one nice bit about living in the dorms, friends would drag me to the dining hall.

    Any way, I eat a lot of pasta, fruit when I can get it and raw almonds. I’m slightly addicted to raw almonds.

  8. Ah food, I have a very complicated relationship with food. Years of an eating disorder has left me with a very temperamental digestive system and, though my emotional relationship with food has improved, if I eat anything that isn’t totally bland it can still make me really sick, which I can really do without! Then there’s the food preparation, I can’t prepare or eat anything that involves cutting up, like pieces of meat or fish or larger veg, unless they’ve been boiled to a pulp because I have very limited movement in my hands! Still, rice and pasta are good meal bases, problem is my OCD also affects my eating habits as I can’t have more than one type of food on the same plate and so often end up with three or four plates and bowls in front of me at dinner time, maybe one with pasta on, one with tuna on, etc, etc, plus, I won’t eat shop bought sauce as I don’t know what’s in it (I can’t read the labels and don’t always trust other people to read every single ingredient out to me and I’m always convinced there’ll be some onion or red pepper hiding in there!) All this makes eating out in restaurants or friend or family’s houses a bit tricky, but I think things are improving because, if absolutely necessary, I can tolerate having two kinds of food (as long as they’re not in a sauce that might spread, like baked beans) on the same plate, as long as they’re on opposite sides and not touching! Oh, and if iI’m eating potatoes or sandwiches or something fairly bulky like that I have to eat them in size order from smallest to largest, it’s nice to be able to talk about this as I feel like I have to try and hide my eating habits in case other people judge me for them which means I’ve had to come up with increasingly odd excuses for not eating at other people’s houses who I don’t feel able to explain the situation to.

  9. It’s hard getting the motivation to cook; if the dish is at all time-consuming or difficult, it will take me at least a week to get around to it. So, for me, quick, energy-filled meals are a must. A few standbys:

    Instant oatmeal (that comes in the little paper packets, and you just add boiling water) is a godsend. And yogurt, as fatty as it comes (so it’s more filling). And a big bag of walnut pieces to add protein and crunchiness.

    Potatoes or yams, microwaved, with cottage cheese or brown sugar and butter on top. With boiled frozen peas on the side.

    Rice + tofu + black bean chili paste + [green vegetable]—excellent (you can put the rice on, then stir-fry the rest while it’s steaming) and cheap, if you can get to an Asian supermarket.

    It’s worth it if I get the energy to make a giant pot of soup, because I can get as much as a week’s worth of meals out of it—perfect with bread and butter and cheese on the side. And soup is cheap, being mostly water, root veggies, and stuff from cans.

    And granola bars and yogurt-covered raisins are great for when I just don’t want to leave my room—but I could always use more suggestions on that…

  10. So much of this to identify with, wow:
    The White Lady: Yay, we are not alone! That’s what I do for dessert a lot of the time, actually. Sounds good right about now…
    Rea: I know the feeling. A lot of times, I just don’t feel like interacting with people, or interacting in a certain way (in fact, that’s going on right now…). Unfortunately, I don’t really have any good advice. Is it possible for you to have an electric teakettle in your room? That way you could do ramen…
    Rainbow: My OCD only sort of strikes with food habits, but I know about using about five different plates. I still don’t like stuff getting in other stuff on my plate, either; I was always told I’d ‘grow out of it’. I don’t WANT to.

  11. Chocolate soy milk. I can almost always tolerate it, and it’s great for washing down the completely necessary D3, Omega 3s and probiotics. It also gives a little shot of protein. And it’s yummy. If soy milk is a no go, then almond milk. Not much protein, but I find it very tolerable. (Thank ceiling cat I can take my anti-convulsants with just water.)

    When digestion is a chore buti need some kind of food, I go for the ultimate comfort food – arrowroot cookies and apple sauce. Skip the spoon, and scoop up the apple sauce with the cookies.

    Bananas. Easy to eat. They come in their own package. Relatively cheap.

    And yes to the above – those little packets of instant oatmeal are divine, especially on a bad day when cooking is too difficult and the kitchen tiles are super cold, and you need to warm up fast.

  12. Oh geez, food.

    I have a low appetite, which means it has to be decent food or I can’t choke it down.

    Swallowing problems mean it either goes down the wrong pipe, or sits around in my esophagus forever. And if it’s big it gets stuck.

    Trigeminal neuralgia means some food can set it off (by things like mouth temperature, not allergies or something).

    Jaw problems mean chewing hurts.

    Reflux means some foods come back up.

    After all that I rarely even want to think about food.

  13. I like to make chicken machacas.

    You put 1-2 frozen chicken breasts in your crock pot. Pour enough medium salsa over the chicken to cover it completely. Turn on high and leave that way for 4-8 hours, checking occasionally to spoon liquid over the chicken to prevent drying out.

    When it’s done, you take a pair of forks and use them to pull the chicken apart a bit, then put the chicken in tortillas with whatever you want (for example, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, beans, rice, salsa, cheese) and eat.

    It’s a good, hot, relatively easy meal. The leftovers also re-heat easily, which at least to me is a big bonus.

    Other than that, I’ll admit that my boyfriend does a lot of the cooking. He makes great stews, and especially when it’s cold, we eat a lot of stew.


  14. Recently I bought a very small chest freezer, which makes me able to stock 2 weeks worth of a variety of Trader Joe’s frozen meals… things that don’t have additives which would trigger IBS or RA flares, but are delicious things I never would have energy to make on my own. This way I can choose something tasty for lunch, with little effort on my part.

    My rice cooker is a BIG help. The cooker turns itself to warm, so I can put the rice in and lay down before dinner, and it will stay warm until I’m ready to get up. If I have hot rice, I can throw something else with it to make a meal for my family. Again, some of Trader Joe’s precooked refrigerated items work great for this.

    If I’m in a lot of pain, or my stomach is iffy, my default “comfort meal” is a slice of good cheese, an apple, and honeywheat pretzels. Perfect mix of sweet, salty, and fat, yet nothing that could trigger reflux or IBS.

  15. …this is very topical because I just came home, went “…I cannot face cooking” and ordered pizza online (I try not to do this often because expensive, but it is a brilliant back-up for when I still have the social capacity to talk to people but don’t have the energy to prepare food.)

    Food is an issue for me, because food preparation + shopping (thanks to limited fridge space and bad organisational skills leading things starting to rot, #1 requires #2 immediately beforehand) is one of the first things that become difficult if I start running out of energy. My first year away from university, I’d wind up going without food for up to two days because I couldn’t manage to go shopping; the years after that, I wound up living very close to a store and managed to essentially program myself to get up go to the store buy some sort of frozen pizza and a piece of junk food as a reward for making it go home make pizza EAT, which means that even in my bad phases I pretty much always get at least one meal a day. (Even including the time I completely crashed last January, provided you count “three handfuls of dry cereal” as a meal.) One meal is what I think of as my minimum, two is what I aim for; I can’t manage three except in very rare circumstances because I have a lot of difficulty getting out of the house in the morning and have tried to take the things I do then back to the absolute minimum. Ergo, no breakfast.

    Also, I am no longer living very close to a store; the nearest place that sells frozen pizza is about fifteen, twenty minutes’ walk away. I haven’t hit a bad phase yet but I’m not sure what I’ll do if I do. I’m thinking of stocking up on something long-lasting and nutritious and leaving that in my room, but whenever I’ve tried that I wind up eating it just because it’s there.

    I do really like cooking (if not the cleanup, blargh) and try to when I have the energy for it. In fact, I’m currently trying to get into some sort of pattern where I cook, then take the leftovers with me for lunch the next day so I don’t have to go out and buy something. There are a bunch of recipes I like making, mainly pasta but also some potato recipes and some oddities like risotto, a recipe for chicken, fried millet, pancakes, Spätzle, etc., but most of them take energy and I can’t make them if I don’t have a lot of spoons. Two are comfortable enough that I can make them even if I’m not feeling that up for it; these are both pasta recipes, one is a pasta bake with cream and one is pasta with homemade sauce. I’m thinking of learning some nice easy recipes for when I’m feeling low, but I’m not sure how much use it would be. How many spoons cooking takes does depend on the complexity of the recipe but also very much on how familiar the recipe is for me; for instance, the homemade pasta sauce is actually quite complicated (it’s chopped vegetables and ham + milk, thickened with either flour or cornflour and seasoned with herbs, lemon juice, cream, etc.) but it falls into “low-energy cooking” whereas, say, a stir-fry or chopping up vegetables and dumping them together to make a salad do not although they’d take much less time and hassle. And then when I’m feeling well, I want to make cool complicated stuff!!! like lasagna or something instead of boring easy things like salad, so the easy stuff stays unfamiliar and therefore out of reach when I’m not feeling well.

    I have been stocking up on sauce mixes, though; my inner food snob turns up her nose at them but making simple but unfamiliar things is MUCH easier if I have a clear-cut recipe to follow.

    I do have some sort of food intolerance which I have decided is lactose intolerance. I have decided this mainly by the following: a) I feel better if I buy lacto-free milk or take lactase tablets before meals, b) although I can deal with buying lacto-free milk and taking lactase tablets, pretty much anything else will require cutting things out of my diet, c) I’d rather deal with regular gastro-intestinal problems than cut any of my staples out of my diet. So, you know, if it’s not lactose intolerance I don’t *want* to know unless my problems get worse. (I have a horror of this because my aunt was diagnosed with fructose malabsorption a year or two back and can no longer eat fruits, vegetables or anything containing sugar. Given how precarious my diet is *now*, I’m worried that if I had to do anything like that I’d actually starve.) The main issue is that through a thoroughly bizarre chain of events, eating things my body doesn’t tolerate causes my lung volume to decrease over time and I have to take over-the-counter medicine semi-regularly to get it back up again. Which I then forget, and therefore wind up wandering around with only half the lung volume I should have for months. \o/

    And, you know, all of this meshes so very HORRIBLY with society at large’s messed-up view on food and healthy eating. I have thankfully never had an eating disorder, but I’ve still internalised a lot of stuff and keep having to tell myself to stop feeling horribly guilty that I ate frozen pizza and a pastry for dinner, I wasn’t feeling well so it was a choice between frozen pizza + pastry or nothing and no, nothing is NOT the better choice. I’d always feel really proud whenever I managed to cook because hey, vegetables!!! but then my flatmates started talking about how pasta is totally fattening and my brain latched onto that. Sometimes I feel as if I’ve been eyeing the line to anorexia for years, because some part of me counts it as a triumph every time I miss a meal. 🙁

  16. I like makign a ham+cheese quiche because it doesn’t take much effort out of me, just waiting time in the oven. Sometimes I make my own crust, but for days that’s not possible I use those ready made sheets of puff pastry dough and dress a baking dish / pastry mould with them. (I use baking spray on the dish first so the dough doesn’t stick to it after baking, very easy to use.)
    Then I just dump some hamcubes in that, divide it a bit, dump some cheese on that and divide that a bit too, mix 4 eggs with some whipping cream, dump that over the ham+cheese, and put it in a pre-heated oven (about 200 degrees Celcius) for 45-50 minutes. If it gets too brown on top too quickly, I put some tinfoil over the bowl after 15 minutes.

    Then when it’s almost done I boil some green vegetables, though now with the rice cooker I might be able to steam them.

  17. Rainbow, my disabilities are purely physical but reading your reply I suddenly realised an important way that my disability and my eating habits are linked. When I was 3 years old and in hospital having my umpteenth surgery, I obviously decided enough was enough and I stopped eating. It took my parents a further 2 years to coax me back onto solid food, and even then I did the separate plates thing until well into my teens. I also wouldn’t eat anything with a sauce because a) I couldn’t tell what was in it and b) it might run and ‘contaminate’ some of the other food on my plate. If the sauce didn’t ‘belong’ with that item I wouldn’t eat it. (I eat off one plate now but I still don’t like discrete items of food to touch each other.) I also used to eat things in a specific order – starting with the thing I liked least and ending with the thing I liked most. More recently I’ve modified that so that I just save a bit of my favourite thing until last. I don’t identify as OCD – to me my eating habits are just logical.

    Looking back I realise when I was a kid it was all about control. I think I had so little control over what happened to my body – with surgery and other unpleasant things – that I controled the one thing I could. Some of that survived into adulthood, but when I left home and started to cook for myself – when I had complete control over what I ate and autonomy over my body – most of it fell away. My odd habits only really affect eating out now – again, because I’m not in complete control over how the thing I’ve ordered will be prepared.

  18. Food is a problem for me – I really really need to eat often and as soon as I realise I’m hungry, or I get really messed up. (thanks, low blood pressure!) The flu I had two weeks ago seems to have done something lingeringly weird to my appetite such that only REALLY REALLY DELICIOUS things appeal in the slightest to eat, making my already fairly limited choices of food (massive texture issues) even smaller. And a lot of the time I just can’t get the impetus to cook – there are four packets of falafel mix in the cupboard, and it takes maybe 20 minutes to make one up, but I just can’t. I eat vanilla yogurt and peanut butter a lot. And toast. And triscuits with hummus. Sometime soon I need to manage cooking enough to make a big bath of pasta salad – that’s my easy go to thing. I can make a huge batch of it and stick it in tupperware in the fridge and eat off it for days. And it’s pretty easy – cook pasta, drain pasta, add can of beans, add can of artichoke hearts, add olives, add carrot, add cheese, add spinach, make dressing, add dressing. Just need to get it done so I stop eating all the beef jerky, because I make myself sick like that. (delicious as the beef jerky is, it is too expensive and things to subsist on.)

    And shopping is the other problem – the grocrey store is about half a mile away, on the other side of an eight-lane intersection that is hell to cross as a pedestrian. I get dizzy spells, so I’m really leery of walking anywhere (and I’m pretty weak and low stamina). I can only carry about half a week’s worth of groceries – which means if I miss even one trip, I can’t even consider going to get groceries because I won’t be able to carry everything I need home. (Driving would be a spectacularly bad idea for me.) I live with my parents and the groceries is from their money, so if I want to order online and have them delivered I have to convince my dad to let me use the credit card for it. And if I can’t I have to go to the store with him and use up a whole mess of spoons on loud and bright and polite to make sure I get everything I need.

    Oh, and I hate it when my food items contaminate each other too.

    Sorry, long x.x
    .-= Shiyiya´s last blog ..Twits of the day. =-.

  19. I don’t think much about food. I’m addicted to clementines and now hummus.

    I have tried things in my diet to “help” before and they never worked.

    Before my allergies were diagnosed, my parents (my mom) kept experimenting with my diet (I was 9). My only clear memory is a peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich on tortillas. In case I was allergic to bread. Or gluten. I’m not.

    Then when the kidney stone nonsense began, what did she push? Cranberry juice. Yuck!

    When I’m in pain and in a bad mood, I go for comfort food. Popcorn is the usual offender.

    I can’t stand milk unless it’s ice cream, chocolate, or with cereal. In one class, we had to drink milks with different fat levels and I was gagging. Yuck.

  20. This is another reason I love having found other PWDs on the internets: When I try to explain that it is difficult just to eat – whether it is that I am too tired to cook/eat, or that it hurts to chew or swallow, or just that I am not up for the socializing aspects of getting to the kitchen – I mostly get a lot of blank looks. But here, every one of my issues has already been mentioned, and it helps me remember that (as strange as it may seem to the TAB people in my life) I am not completely alone in all of this.

    Like everyone else here, eating is a complicated issue for me. Right now, I have it set up that I have to eat every four hours during the day (10,2,6, & 10, if you’re interested) and once in the middle of the night (usually around 3 am). I eat so that I can take my pills, basically, and that takes a lot of the joy out of eating. I like to bake/cook (on the rare occasions I have the energy), but eating isn’t something that’s enjoyable right now, and that kind of sucks. Because I have a hard enough time with food, I tend to keep a lot of easy things around – pasta, bags of veggies, cans of soup to throw in the microwave – and I’m also lucky enough that other members of my family will cook and I get the leftovers. And snacks – peanut butter crackers, pretzels, whatever I can keep at the side of the bed when I need another dose of pain meds.
    .-= NTE´s last blog ..November has come and gone, =-.

  21. I recently printed out a bullet point list of what I can’t eat to give to restaurants etc: it took a third of a page :/ So I try and only cook my own food from simple ingredients, but chronic fatigue makes this difficult.

    Anyway: Every day I have a bowl of Vita Brits with rice milk, a peanut butter sandwich, a vegemite sandwich, two carrots, and 2 of some fruit. Dinner (or sometimes lunch, if I’m busy in the evening and would rather have the sandwiches then) is generally some variation of “Chop, brown, simmer, maybe serve with rice/pasta”. I am very happy with (an adapted version of) this korean stew since it misses the “brown” part and is very tasty:

    Here’s the recipes I’ve posted to lj and delicious: But these don’t distinguish between recipes I’ve made and those I just like the look of, also they don’t include the many alterations

  22. While I myself do not seem to have any food triggers, a lot of my friends do. One big problem though is that a lot of te restrictive diets designed to minimize pelvic & vulvar pain – there is contradiction. Depending on the source, one book might say that certain foods are low oxlate, but another book lists the same food as high on oxlate crystals. Oxlate crystals are found in urine & are thought to cause vulvar irritation in some people… But the in other studies, oxlate crystals are not found to do anything!!

    One supplement you can take to minimze the impact of oxlate is calcium citrate. But it had to be in citrate form. Calcium carbonate makes it worse.

    And anti-yeast diets are so hard to maintain.

    Still, I try to eat a lot of fruits & vegtables & probiotics, whatever good it does. I don’t know if it’s helping.
    .-= K´s last blog ..Guest Post – My Experiences with Vulvodynia =-.

  23. I also like to put assorted vegetables in the oven with herbs or cheese and olive oil. Like eggplant with feta, maybe thyme, and some olive oil. I halve the eggplant lengthwise, put feta with pepper on top, optionally use a garlic press and put some garlic on too, and maybe some thyme too. It goes in a baking dish of which I brushed the bottom with olive oil, then I sprinkle maybe a tablespoon of olive oil over the slice too, and put it in the oven for 30 minutes or so on 200 degrees Celsius. Then I eat that with bread.

    Or we chop up some (sweet)potatoes, green asparagus, eggplant, stir that with basil, garlic and olive oil, put it in a baking dish lined with baking paper and put that in the oven for 50 minutes. I can do that on most days, provided everything goes right, no surprises in my day, and no big things I need to do that day, like going to the doctor or visiting family.

    I have another problem, if my kitchen gets too messy, I sort of lock up when I want to make food. I can’t do it the way I need to so then I mostly end up not cooking until it’s cleaned.

  24. Ah, bugger. I forgot: stir that with basil, garlic, SALT, PEPPER and olive oil.

    Also, that last sentence matters because while I can usually do cooking in stable periods like I’m having now, I have major problems with keeping the house clean and tidy even when I’m “at my best”, so I can go up to two weeks of barely cooking at all until my mom comes in again to help.

  25. Totally seconding the slow cooker + rice cooker love. Makes my life a whole lot easier. 

    This is a recipe full of noms that’s easy to make with a rice cooker:
    Rice (we use brown, but any type will work)
    As much water as rice needs (brown is 1:2, White is 1:1.5)
    Frozen veggies
    Dried chives
    Dried onion flakes. 
    Throw it all into the rice cooker, stir, turn on rice cooker, go do whatever you want until it’s done. It is so nommy! Works with foods or on its own as a meal.
    We make heaps at a time and leave it in the fridge to reheat.  

    I’m really lucky in that I have a partner who likes to cook. He often makes huge pots of chili in the slow cooker and leaves them in the fridge. That plus the rice = my lunch for the week 😀

    Also, crumpets. I have a love affair with crumpets. Unfortunately I need a bit more to keep me going, but they’re a great comfort food for when I’m down. And when I’m depressed I tend to stop eating, so crumpets are a good way to keep me alive. 

  26. Depends on how my partner and I are doing at that particular moment.

    When we go out shopping for food, we buy ingredients for three meals per run, as well as any other necessities. No dairy products, largely organic food that’s high in fiber and low in fat. The dishes planned out are often dependent on how I’ve been feeling, such as if I’ve been dealing with a particularly bad flare. We have soup a lot. We cook a full size meal when one of us has the spoons to do it, which includes a starch, a vegetable and a protein (largely out of habit for me). Then we store the leftovers and eat those over the next couple of days. Didn’t used to keep ready-made meals around but now that winter’s hit and since I do the majority of the cooking, it’s proven to be necessary in order to keep costs down from having to go out all the time.

    Oh, and bread. The hassle of buying bread. It’s such a pain to find bread that doesn’t have either high fructose corn syrup or milk in it. Throw in whole wheat or whole grain and it’s even harder. We’ve started buying kosher bread for sandwiches and just making our own at home for toast. I love my bread machine, one of the best presents my mother ever gave me.

    If neither of us are in the state to cook and we don’t have leftovers or ready-made meals stashed? Either we order pizza, gather the spoons to run to the grocery store for emergency provisions, or gather the spoons to eat out. The second one being the one that happens most often due to me being severely lactose intolerant, so pizza’s reserved for comfort food.

  27. I’m really bad with keeping the kitchen clean too. And if stuff starts piling up my brain sort of goes overwhelm short out shut down can’t do it. And having the sink a teetering pile of dishes makes cooking harder. I might be getting a bit better about washing things promptly just by sheer repetition, but I still hate it.

  28. What a great question! I’m so used to getting funny looks if I mention to anyone that there are times when even though I’m incredibly hungry, I don’t have the energy left to go shopping or prepare a meal.

    I love pasta, especially homemade pasta and tomato sauce, but I’m not up to making homemade on a regular basis. I always keep some dried pasta and a jar of tomato sauce (Newman’s Own is my personal fave) on hand at all times. I also try to also have a few frozen food choices for times when I don’t feel like cooking at all. I think I’ve come close to testing out every brand of frozen pizza that my local supermarket sells. In a pinch I’ll cobble together whatever I can find: cheese and crackers, raw almonds, yogurt, fresh fruit, breakfast cereal… not always my ideal meal, but it’s food.

  29. Really cool reading all these replies. It’s nice to know that we’re not alone in these struggles, though it can feel that way.

    It’s weird, because I love cooking but I hate eating. I have trouble with chewing, swallowing, and then the whole digestion thing can be a nightmare. Like some people above, I eat a lot of instant oatmeal. Instant oatmeal packet + electric kettle, no hassle.

    Probably 70% of what I eat in a given day is stuff I have to, and would gladly never see again. Fiber in whatever incarnation, those stupid prunes, random fruit with it’s awful texture. Dinner is usually whatever my partner finds to throw into the crockpot and brown rice. Love rice. If I want something special, I usually have juice or tea, because it’s one of the few things without a lot of baggage attached. No one makes me drink it, I just like it. And I love green beans that are barely steamed so they squeak when you chew them. Squeaky beans!

    The actual process of eating is difficult. Some days I can’t hold a spoon, or I can’t negotiate the spoon-bowl-face bit. My partner and family are so good at being unfazed about helping me, though, that it’s really not too bad.

  30. I find that having low sodium vegetable stock, somen noodles (or any type of noodle, really), and bags of frozen veggies around at all times is really helpful. It’s basically just dump items in saucepan, apply heat until noodles are soft. Super fast noodle soup has saved me on many an iffy night. I like to add miso paste, a splash of hot sauce, and some soy sauce, but soup is pretty versatile so you can pretty much throw anything in there.

    It only takes one pot, which is good, because I shut down around messes, too. Sometimes I eat right out of the pot so I don’t have an extra bowl to wash.

  31. I’ve only recently started reading this through a feed. I have a lot of minor issues that cause me lots of problems but nothing that anyone official will deign to call a disability. But they make cooking (and eating) a nightmare obsession sometimes. I don’t have diabetes, but I react very strongly to sugars and simple carbs. I am extremely salt sensitive, have Fibromyalgia and IBS and am mildly lactose intolerant. The salt issue is the newest one and frankly, I don’t dare give up any major food groups for fear of running out of things I can make for myself to eat.

    Mostly, the boyfriend buys our groceries. I have a very basic vegetable beef soup that I make from a combination of no salt added canned vegetables, ground beef (or turkey) and a few fresh vegetables like cabbage and onion. This is usually the main thing I get to eat. Other than that I eat whole wheat spaghetti with herbs and olive oil, 2 under 500 mg frozen dinners a week (he picks them for me), canned or fresh fruit as we can afford it, too much bread and tuna and a few notsobad snack/fiber bars.

    My hardest issue on a given day is that a lot of what is wrong with me means I wake up with a headache almost every day (and not always for the same reasons). I can’t eat when I first wake up. Usually I have to hydrate enough to take my pain pills and if that works, then I can eat a small something, toast or oatmeal, that allows me to take a multivitamin. If I don’t take a multivitamin and a 2nd dose of iron later in the day, I am flat out with exhaustion and other yucky stuff from anemia after a few weeks.

    Once that medicine is accounted for, I can at least work through the rest of the day with some sense. But if that is derailed, I’m often left dizzy hungry and nearly fainting in the early afternoon with no energy or help trying to cook something or make a sandwich that can’t contain lunch meat or cheese or condiments. A girl gets a bit sick of pb even when it’s relatively free of added sugars or salt. The list of foods I can’t eat is much longer than the one that I can. This often results in me eating out which is pretty much a guarantee of being sick later in the week for stuffing my face when I’m hungry.

  32. Rainbow, have you tried anything like or ?

    I have the latter, and I’ve found it very helpful for cutting things when I can’t make much use of my hands.

    My OT also suggested these – I don’t own one, but she said they were great for people who don’t do well with their hands. Like the other two I pointed out, it really uses the strength of your arm rather than your hand.


  33. I am lucky in that I don’t have any major food issues except that I can’t manage vegetarianism (I wish I could!) but I’m also almost an hour’s drive from a supermarket. There is a mini-mart in my town but it’s horrible – spoiled fruit and vegetables, improperly maintained fridges, dirty floors, dirty staff, and I can’t risk the food poisoning again (plus my girlfriend has IBS). This means that I grocery shop one day a week and cook a week’s worth of food on another day – I can work around energy highs and lows, and it’s much cheaper, too. My freezer lets me cook in bulk and it’s made a huge difference to my ability to have a filling meal every night, just by throwing something in the microwave that I cooked on a high energy day. I am also recovering from an eating disorder so having filling and healthy food available is extremely important to me, because anything I can buy pre-packaged without a long drive is junk food that is very, very triggering for me.

  34. I’m lucky in that i don’t have any food sensitivities or allergies. My go-to recipe is clam linguine. It’s just canned baby clams, canned tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, basil, parmesan cheese and linguine. Simple and delicious.

    I have an incredibly tiny kitchen, and it’s always a challenge figuring out how to cook in there.

  35. @the fat nutritionist – agh! yes, I forgot about negotiating spaces. I got used to the big kitchen in one house, and my parents just could. not. understand. why I couldn’t cook (literally – whenever I thought about it, it was like a huge iron portcullis came down in my mind) in another kitchen that I had never seen before.

  36. Kali, I use a rocking “T” knife very much like that one and love it. I’ve also been told that there’s a very similar knife that’s meant for fishing and sold in sporting goods store that’s less expensive, but unfortunately I don’t remember what it’s called.

    Another thing I love are the Debbie Meyer green bags that are meant for making produce last longer. (I’d assumed they were useless, especially once I realized they were sold on late-night TV, but they do make fruits and veggies last dramatically longer.)

    Does anyone have a good way of opening frozen vegetable bags with one hand? I use my teeth a lot of the time, but there’s got to be a better way.

  37. I love to cook, and I have a big freezer. So, when I have the spoons for it, I spend the day cooking up some of my favorite foods, serve some for dinner and freeze the rest. That way on days that I don’t feel well, all I have to do is select something from the freezer and pop it in the oven to bake.

    When my fibromyalgia is flaring in my hands, I try to choose dishes that don’t require much finesse with utensils.

    I almost always do food prep sitting at the kitchen table, reserving my standing time for when I’m actually working at the stove.

    I also enlist the help of my kids, using the opportunity to teach them how to cook and enjoy it.

  38. @ Static nonsense

    I used to enjoy pizza, no matter how many lactose pills I had to take, but since a very bad salmonella poisoning complicated by IBS, I’ve been off all milk, cream and soft cheeses since last spring. The pizza thing was a big issue, until I started ordering my own pizza.

    Whole wheat crust, no mozzarella, extra sauce, some broccoli and green peppers, pineapple and goat milk feta cheese. It’s a bit expensive, as they charge double for the feta, but man, it’s good. It’s like a cross between pizza and bruschetta. From the more upscale places, I’ll skip the pineapple and add artichoke hearts or red onions or zucchini – yummy! The point is, pizza does NOT have to have greasy, lactose-laden cheese on it. Just remember to make them repeat the order to you so they’re less likely to mess it up.

  39. sundiszno, I have a dedicated kitchen shears (came in my knife block) that I use for opening bags etc. It have huge openings for the fingers, and short yet very sharp blades.

  40. I haven’t been doing a very good job keeping food in the house lately, so I’ve been eating out a lot. The grocery store is overwhelming when I’m hungry, especially if I don’t know exactly what I’m looking for.
    One easy meal I haven’t made in a while, adapted from a friend’s mom’s recipe, is a stirfry of frozen stirfry veggies + canned pineapple + frozen meatballs, teriyaki flavor (or sliced polish sausage).

  41. @dar

    That is something I’ll definitely have to consider in the future. I miss goat cheese, my aunt used to make it all the time. It’s not terribly easy to find around here unfortunately but I’ve been wanting to give goat cheese a try again. Thanks for the suggestion!

  42. Thanks, Ms. M. Scissors/shears are tricky for me, though, for reasons I can’t explain very well. I keep thinking that there must be some sort of arrangement that would hold a bag steady while I use something like a box cutter or pizza wheel, but I can’t seem to come up with anything that doesn’t result in frozen spinach, etc, flying everywhere. Well, except my teeth.

  43. sundiszno: have you tried the little plastic cutters they sell for bags of milk? I find them helpful when I’m unable to manage scissors. I’m thinking of the little gadgets that look like this: red handheld tool with circle at the top with slit with blade for cutting

  44. I like spicy salty tangy food and don’t much like sweet. Lately I can’t eat much at a time and only once or twice a day. If my wife is cooking I’ll eat whatever she’s made. Sometimes I’ll get ambitious and make something complicated (I wrote about the most recent experience here — some day I want a kitchen that has counters and sinks and stove tops I can sit at) but I also eat a lot of instant noodles and canned soup.

    I live with digestive issues but I’ve been living with digestive issues for ages — I eat, I get cramps. I feel nauseated most of the time. At least with the newest pain meds I’m not constipated all the time like I was with hydrocodone. These days it’s all gas. Painful and stinky and sometimes embarrassing. Fortunately I had my own office when I commuted to work and now there’s just us and I only worry about it every two weeks during my Exalted game.

    Probably eating stuff that’s less spicy might be less irritating but I don’t want to give that up yet.

  45. i have severe multiple food intolerances/sensitivites/allergies — gluten, corn, soy and other beans, meat from any animals who were fed corn or soy, food additives, preservatives, nightshades, brassicas, dairy, tapioca, anything goitrogenic. processed foods are never safe for me because of cross contam with gluten, corn-based additives, preservatives, etc. i also have insulin issues (my pancreas overresponds if i have a blood sugar spike and drops my blood sugar too low, so i have to be careful to avoid spikes, so not much starch or sugar in my diet.

    safe and healthy foods for me are (all organic; i have severe mcs due to pesticide exposure) grass fed beef, carrots, celery, beets, berries, home made appesauce, olive and coconut oil, small amounts of (tested gluten-free) brown rice and brown and sweet rice flour, pumpkin and other winter squash, some herbs, soem butter, occasional eggs, garlic, lemons, unsweetened cocoa, occassional corn/dairy/soy free dark chocolate, hazelnuts. lots of salt, as i have chronic low bp and low blood volume.

    i have severe cfids and very low energy. my basic food is soup: 12 oz water, salt and pepper, broken up ground beef, some cut up veg if i’m well enough to use a knife safely, olive oil. sometimes garlic. sometimes spaetzel (1/4 cup each brown rice and sweet rice flour, 1/4 tsp salt, 1 large egg, water to make a soft dough, squish half the dough through 1/4 holes [i have a perfect hamburger turner] into simmering broth, cook til they float. leave other half for the next meal).

    i do have trouble getting enough calories; there’s only so much oil i can handle, and when i’m ony well enougyt o make 2 bowls of soup a day… well.

    when i’m well enough i like making braised meats with root veg, sometimes with some berries or applesauce added. i love homemade uncured sausage (ground beef iwth seasonings).

    and i’ve just noticed there’s another rainbow here — hello! ::waves:: you’re the first other rainbow i’ve met!

  46. I do a lot of veggies on days when I can’t concentrate and/or have no energy for cooking. As in: microwaved frozen broccoli, which takes all of five minutes, and baked kale (toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake for 10 minutes). Sometimes even pulling out the rice cooker and getting it set up is daunting. But I second (third? fourth?) that having a rice cooker is wonderful. Especially when you have gluten-free corn-free soy sauce, nutritional yeast, and butter to go with it. Yum!

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