One of the biggest challenges for people with chronic illness and chronic pain, is when you feel unable to cook or prepare your own fresh food. One experience I know too well myself; is when you need to conserve what little energy you have for eating so that you can take your medication.
After a particularly bad pain flare, days long migraine or long bout of viral illness when you have been unable to get out to shops for any fresh food. Or you have fresh food but no energy to prepare it. What do you do?
I admit there have been times I resort to junk foods and takeaways that will be delivered. But long term, the high financial outlay is unsustainable. Not to mention the nutritional impact leads to even more declining health.
Some spoonies use meal replacement shakes and bars. I have found this to be expensive and often question if there are any actual health benefits. Many brands I have found contain too little real protein for the high amount of sugars, triggering diabetes issues.
Some use tinned and canned foods. I try to keep small cans of tuna and some crackers on hand. They are an adequate meal on their own. Better with sliced cheese and best; if I am able too, with some tomato and cucumber slices.
The high amount of sodium in some canned goods can mean that many other tinned goods are not health options on their own. Although tinned fruits are a better back up than no fruit at all. Some canned and pre-made soups are definitely better than others so it is worth taking the time to read the labels.
Major supermarkets now often offer a range of fresh pre-made meals beyond soups. Like fresh pastas, oven bakes and even Indian meals. Whilst this can be a costly way to eat, it is usually still cheaper than takeaway and restaurant prices. I like to, look out for supermarket specials, short date code discounts and stock up on the better options. Especially those ones which can be frozen and microwaved straight from the freezer.
Frozen foods can be a mixed bag of nutrition as well. I have heard fruits and vegetables start losing vitamins from the time they are picked. So if you have some growing in your garden, it is best to pick them just before eating. The longer they are stored, the less vitamins are present. Most frozen vegetables are snap frozen these days. They could have better vitamin retention than fresh vegetables which have been transported to stores for sales. The quality and variety has also improved greatly.
Frozen dinners or meals though can be a different story. While being mixed up with sauces and meats, the sugars and sodium levels can skyrocket beyond recommended intake levels. Deceptive or misleading marketing practices mean they may not state quantities of serving size for the exact package they are on. Nutritionists have warned me that reading the labels on these meals can provide misleading nutritional information to the unaware.
One solution can be food delivery services.
Another can be Freezer Slow Cooking. A cult-like following of websites are dedicated to this apparently new trend. Where meals which can be pre-prepared or mostly-prepared in advance are then stored in a freezer until needed. Some can be cooked from frozen but most need to be thawed overnight in the fridge and then thrown in a slow cooker. To cook without needing to stand for half an hour, or more, in the kitchen. This is one of my favourite solutions. I would love you to share some of yours?
Photo by Sheila Pedraza Burk from Burst