When you’re living with arthritis, the kitchen can become a daunting place with seemingly simple tasks like opening a can or chopping up vegetables feeling impossible. It’s important to eat a healthy, balanced diet - plus who has the money to live on takeaways - but how can you do that when the process of cooking a meal is so painful?
We spoke to Natalie, a 32-year-old blogger from Derby who lives with arthritis, and asked her what gadgets have made a difference in her kitchen. We also spoke to Martin Lau, the Dietitian and Services Development Manager from Arthritis Action, a UK charity that offers practical advice for people of all ages who have arthritis, and he gave us some handy cooking hacks which can help take the pain out of the cooking!
These food processors often come with multiple pulse settings that you can use to mince or puree your ingredients. Some also come with multiple compartments which you can use to store the food for later. Natalie has arthritis in her thumbs, fingers and wrists, so finely chopping ingredients as a base for curries or pasta is difficult for her. She says: “My chopper is fab for chopping up onions, garlic and smaller things which are difficult to prepare with a knife.”
Throwing all your ingredients in a slow cooker and leaving it to work its magic several hours in advance can be incredibly helpful and time saving. Natalie finds slow cooking incredibly helpful because you can just “bung everything in and leave to cook”, although she does suggest you get someone to help you with the washing up!
One Cup Kettle
If you want to avoid lugging around a large, heavy kettle full of boiling water every time you fancy a cup of tea, Natalie recommends investing in a one cup kettle. Designed for single portions, these kettles are light and easy to transport - which is just what you need when you have arthritis and any additional strain on those painful joints is most unwelcome. Saves on your water and electricity bills too!
Electric Tin Opener
Natalie struggles to use manual tin openers, but that doesn’t mean she has to give up tinned foods. By investing in a one-touch electric tin opener, you can simply place the device on the top of the tin, press the button and watch the tin opener do the hard work for you!
Ring Pull Can Openers
If you have arthritis in your hands, opening ring pull can openers can be much harder than it looks. Ring pull can opener devices are spoon-shaped plastic tools that come with small blade-shaped ridges that can be hooked under the ring pull for easier access. “People with arthritis (both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis) in the fingers often experience weak grip,” says Martin Lau, a dietician and manager from Arthritis Action, “but these devices can make things easier. Think of curved lever with grip.”
5-way jar and bottle–openers
If you find it difficult to open ring top cans, twist off caps and bottle lids, you could benefit from a 5-way jar and bottle opener. All you need to do is connect the device to the thing you want to open and pull using the long, comfortable handle - much easier than fiddly lids! “Getting a good grip on the object is often a tall task for people living arthritis,” says Martin Lau, “especially if the affected area is in the hands. This gadget is multi-propose and it is a handy tool to have.”
Electric Vegetable Peeler
If you want to peel your vegetables without the time-consuming pain, invest in an electric vegetable peeler. “The handle of a household peeler is often small”, says Martin Lau, “if someone has a reduced range of movement in the fingers (i.e. cannot form a fist easily), securely holding a peeler is not possible.
Coupled with a weakness of the wrist, a simple task such as peeling can be impossible to do. An electric peeler can hold the vegetable you want to peel in place. With a press of a button, the work is done!”If you’re peeling a potato, for example, you can simply place it on the electric peeler, turn it on, press a button and watch the skin peel away!
Large Cushioned Cutlery Handles
If you find small, metal knives, forks and spoons hard to use, don’t worry. You don’t have to suffer in painful silence as you struggle to cut your steak: grab a set of cutlery that comes with large, cushioned handles that are more comfortable to hold and easier to use. “(this one is) from the Occupational therapists’ toolbox,” says Martin Lau, “the larger handle could fit into hands with a restricted range of movement.”
You can follow Natalie on Twitter @thespooniemummy and find out more on her website