Dear chronic pain: meet your enemy, the slow cooker!
You’ve got chronic pain, and you don’t feel like doing anything, let alone cooking. Since chronic pain is more common in women, you may be (unfairly?) expected to cook for a significant other and maybe children as well. But getting very specific nutrients in extremely important in chronic pain patients. What’s a gal to do? (or a guy) Let me propose using a slow cooker as much as physically possible. How do I love thee, slow cooker? Let me count the ways…
1. Nutrients- This is the most important advantage of a slow cooker for those with chronic pain. When you make something in a slow cooker (like a stew, for example) it typically contains meat and veggies, and sometimes tubers. Veggies will come complete with phytochemicals and an assortmant of vitamins and minerals. If the meat is on the bone, it will have collagen and a bit of other things that help joints. Or you can make some bone broth and store it. Also, 99% of slow cooker recipes involve water, and lack of water can contribute to fatigue and stiffness. But more important is the substitution effect–if you eat one delicious meal a day from a slow cooker, that is a meal a day that you are not as tempted to eat junk food! And junk food is very very bad for chronic pain.
2. Cost- If you combine Mr. Slow Cooker with Ms. Frozen Vegetable and Monsieur Blender, you get a radically low cost meal plan. Buy frozen veggies, which cost less than fresh veggies and sometimes retain more nutrients because they get frozen at the peak of freshness. Take said veggies (preferably mild things like baby spinach) and throw them in a blender, perhaps with some berries and/or protein powder, or maybe coconut milk. Blend it up, and you have an easy breakfast. You can thaw frozen veggies to add to your slow cooked concoctions. Heck, if you buy bulk frozen meat, you almost never have to go shopping again!
3. Longevity- This is of minor importance for today’s aches and pains, but every advantage matters. Slow cooking means that there are less advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) and less advanced lipoxidation endproducts (ALEs) on your meat, compared to higher-heat cooking methods. AGEs and ALEs may contribute to pain from arthritis and other conditions through inflammation and other more esoteric mechanisms.
4. Quantity- Go ahead, cook a week’s worth of food using the slow cooker. It won’t really take any longer. The slow cooker does all the work for you, and then you can portion out the results into little glass containers (BPA free!). If you’re hardcore like me, you can accidentally buy two slow cookers and have them going at the same time.
5. Easier on joints- This is a biggie. My wrists suck, so cast-iron pans are out of the question. With a slow cooker, I only have to chop some veggies and throw them in with some meat and herbs and spices. In fact, if you have a salad-shooter type thing or a mandolin, you don’t even have to chop veggies.
So do you slow-cook? Maybe you should. Slow cookers are surprisingly cheap, and can really power you through the winter. And if you have friends over, they’ll compliment your cooking. “Cooking”? Hah! The secret is simplicity. Slow cooking melds together flavors and makes meat super tender. Let the slow cooker do the work while you sit back and watch TV on DVD. Lower stress = less pain!