Five easy ways to eat well with arthritis16 June 2021
There are some easy ways you can improve your diet to help you manage your arthritis and general wellbeing.
Remember, there’s no ‘one size fits all’ - it’s about finding what works for you and eating food you will enjoy. It’s also important to make realistic plans which fit with your lifestyle, whether that’s the ‘day job’, kids or your energy levels – this will help you to make changes for the long-term.
1. Plan for success
Plan the meals you will have for the week and write your shopping list in advance.
Think about cooking more than you need and freezing any leftovers to give you easy meal options for another day.
Let a slow cooker do all the work for you; you can throw in meat and/or veg and let the cooker do the rest. If you buy liners from supermarkets, you don’t have to clean it out every time, either.
Set up prepping and cooking stations in your kitchen, so everything is on hand and at the right level.
Have an area where you can sit down and work on the kitchen counter, or have a low table and chair, so you don’t have to stand for long periods.
2. Use shortcuts
Using frozen chopped vegetables will save on preparation and often have a similar nutritional value to fresh vegetables.
There’s many inexpensive gadget and appliances you can use to help make life easier. Here’s a few ideas shared by our community.
- Electric can openers and hand-held blenders can make food preparation easier
- Some people have found using a pizza cutter helps with cutting sandwiches
- Using lightweight prep containers, pans and ones with two handles makes lifting safer and manageable
- There’s a good range of easy grip and non-slip cooking tools (spoons, knives to spatulas) available which are easier to handle.
3. Shop smarter
Shop online and have your food order delivered. For many people this can be an easier option and it can save time and energy.
If you do go into a supermarket, check where the seats are in case you need to have a rest.
Try shop and scan, if available, you can pack as you go and avoid feeling rushed at the checkout.
Get a sunflower lanyard, by wearing this it will indicate to staff that you may need a little extra help in-store.
4. Healthy swaps
Try these swaps with minimal effort.
- Cut down on sugary drinks and switch for glasses of water to reduce your sugar intake. Drinking plenty of water is one of the easiest steps you can take for a healthier body and mind.
- Choose olive oil or rapeseed oil if you're making salad dressings or roasting food. We need some fat in our diet, and these contain unsaturated fats, which is a better option than using saturated fats, such as butter.
- Swap sugary cereals for wholegrain cereals. These are lower in sugar, fat and salt.
- Fish can be a healthier alternative to meat as it’s lower in saturated fat.
Recipes to inspire you
This suggested meal plan gives you some inspiration for easy and nutritious dishes. These all serve 1, just double or triple the quantities, depending on how many portions you want.
Breakfast: overnight oats
Ingredients: 50g porridge oats, 100ml semi-skimmed milk (or non-dairy alternative), 50g (fresh or frozen) blueberries, 1 tablespoon natural yoghurt and ½ teaspoon of cinnamon.
Method: The night before serving, stir the oats together with the milk and top with blueberries, yoghurt and cinnamon.
Top tip: Make a bulk batch (enough for a few days) and portion out for a healthy breakfast on the go. It will keep fine for a few days in the fridge.
Lunch: hummous and avocado sandwich
Ingredients: 2 slices wholemeal or granary bread, ¼ avocado, mashed with a fork in a small bowl, 2 gem lettuce leaves and 4 slices of tomato. Optional extras: a pinch of chilli powder, cumin or cayenne pepper and / or a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
Method: Spread the hummus onto each side of the bread, layer the lettuce, tomato slices and the avocado on one side. Add your optional extras of choice – close the sandwich with the hummous slice of bread.
Top tip: If you prefer a meat version use a lean meat, such as ready cooked (and sliced) turkey or chicken.
Dinner - pasta with broccoli, spinach, and pesto
Ingredients: 70g pasta, 70g broccoli florets, small handful of baby leaf spinach, 1-2 tablespoons shop-bought pesto, 1 teaspoon parmesan or hard cheese, grated (you can buy ready grated), 10g flaked toasted almonds, a squeeze of lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Method: Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add the pasta and cook according to the packet instructions. Four minutes before the end of the cooking time, add the broccoli.
Drain the pasta and broccoli then toss through the spinach and pesto to coat the pasta. Serve with a sprinkle of parmesan, a squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper and flaked almonds over the top.
Top tip: You can put a colander in your pan so there's no need to lift the pan to strain water. Also, you can buy lemon juice in a bottle for an easier option.