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If you're living with Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, it can sometimes be hard to cook nutritious meals for yourself when you’re feeling exhausted as these meals often require more prep work and time in the kitchen.
In this article, we share 9 tips you can use to help you reduce the burden of cooking even on your most challenging days.
1. Take a seat
Conserve energy by sitting in a chair while prepping food. This helps to reduce the amount of effort it takes to cook on lower-energy days.
2. Stash the extras
When you have the energy to cook, choose a freezer-friendly recipe, double it, and freeze the leftovers. Divide your leftovers into individual portions and store them in freezer-friendly bags or containers.
That way, you can skip the cooking and allow yourself to rest on low-energy days without sacrificing nutrition. Don’t forget to date and label each meal before freezing!
3. Reduce your workload
Minimize time spent prepping in the kitchen by opting for pre-washed, pre-cut veggies. You can find these either fresh or frozen in most grocery stores.
It's a good idea to keep frozen fruits and vegetables on hand so you can always throw together a quick meal with minimal effort and cleanup required.
4. Make sheet pan dinners your go-to
Bake your entire meal on a single parchment paper/foil-lined cookie sheet. Just toss your pan in the oven, set a timer, and you can rest while the food is cooking.
Not only does this method reduce the time and effort needed to prepare the meal, it also reduces post-cooking cleanup.
You can forget about scrubbing multiple pots and pans; just toss the used parchment or foil and return the clean sheet to its place.
5. Invest in a slow cooker
A slow cooker is another way to simplify the cooking process. Slow cookers allow you to safely cook your meal over a 4-8 hour period, which saves you from needing to constantly stir or check on your food while it’s cooking.
As a bonus, the slow cooker allows ingredients to bathe in the cooking liquid longer, which creates a much more flavorful meal.
6. Cook in bulk
Cooking in bulk, or batch cooking, only requires you to cook once or twice, but allows you to enjoy meals throughout the week.
Minimizing the amount of times you need to stand, prep, and cook will decrease your energy expenditure, which is ideal when you’re exhausted.
7. Consider a pressure cooker
Pressure cookers slash cooking time and also remove the need to stand over the stove.
Meals can be made in a matter of minutes, without supervision and in only one pot to reduce cleanup.
8. Stay prepared
Post your list on the refrigerator so it’ll always be at arms reach on your low-energy days.
9. Ask for help
If you have someone supportive nearby, consider asking them for help preparing some of your meals. Friends, family members, and neighbors are often willing and able to help you out when you're not feeling your best and you can always return the favor when you're back on your feet.
Are you constantly fatigued? Your diet may be playing a role. Our IBD-focused registered dietitians can help you address your sources of fatigue and help you gain more energy so you can do the things you want to do.
In fact, we've helped 88% of our clients significantly improve their fatigue in just 3 months. Reach out to learn if our IBD nutrition counseling program is right for you.