10 Ways to Dodge Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain While Cooking

Try ones of these tips to whip up a meal—minus the pain.

Nina Ngai
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Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)-related pain and stiffness can turn cooking into a real chore. Don’t let it! With just a few modifications, you can create an inviting, RA-friendly kitchen. So go grab your chef’s hat and try these 10 handy tips—you’ll be cooking up a storm in no time. 

  1. Get a grip 
    Swap the knobs on your kitchen drawers and cabinets to U-shaped handles—their greater surface area makes them easier to grab. And if your refrigerator door is heavy, tie a loop of fabric around the handle to pull the door open with less effort. 
    Tip: Organize your pots and pans so that the ones you use most often are in the front. 
  2. Take a seat 
    Keep a stool about the height of your countertop—being able to sit while you pare, chop and dice can help you preserve energy. 
  3. Look for “aha” uses
    Think outside the box with your cooking tools. For example, use an apple cutter to cut up fruits and vegetables if you find it easier to handle than a knife. Or try a bamboo steamer that allows you to cook three separate food courses at once. 
  4. Choose RA-friendly utensils
    Make sure your pots are lightweight, with two handles that are easy to grip. Also look for silicone kitchen tools, like spoons and spatulas. These are great because silicone is easy to bend and clean—and they also come in an assortment of colors that can brighten up any kitchen! And just to be sure, grip, bend, squeeze and do anything else you can to test a utensil before you buy! 
  5. Minimize lifting
    Place an empty pot on the stove first before you fill it with water. Then use a smaller container to fill the pot. This avoids putting extra strain on your joints
  6. Run hot and cold 
    Store your plastic wrap in the freezer to make it less clingy and easier to tear. As it warms up, it’ll stick to your container perfectly. Also, run hot water over plastic lids—the heat makes them more pliable, so they’re a cinch to snap in place. 
  7. Keep a scrap bowl nearby
    Don’t fumble with under-sink garbage pails. Instead, keep a large bowl on your countertop and throw all the scraps into it as you go along. 
  8. Make cleanup a breeze
    Save time—and elbow grease—by lining baking dishes with aluminum foil or wax paper before cooking. If you’re hosting a big dinner party, use disposable plates, cups and utensils to make cleanup easier.
  9. Go high-tech
    Crock pots and other slow cookers are excellent ways to make a full meal with little effort. Food processors are an effective way to chop and dice.
  10. Plan ahead
    When you are feeling good, cook up enough food for a week. Store it in your refrigerator and freezer. 
April 2013