How to Master Mealtime While Managing Parkinson’s Symptoms
Last updated: April 2023
Getting ready for mealtime when managing Parkinson’s disease is no small feat. Symptoms can often interfere with kitchen skills such as chopping, peeling, and cooking – making your favorite recipes a time-consuming affair.
So, if managing tremors, muscle cramps, rigidity, or slowed movements poses an added challenge in the kitchen, check out these easy-peasy tips to make mealtime a breeze.
It starts with prep
Creating your favorite dishes is more than simply cooking the ingredients. Generally, meals involve washing produce, chopping ingredients, and combining ingredients. So cooking is the last step – often taking less time than the prep.
However, for people with Parkinson’s disease, the food prep may feel overwhelming and daunting. While it may be tempting to opt for an overly simplified recipe to keep mealtime madness to a minimum, it often leaves the tastebuds unenthused.
But managing Parkinson’s disease symptoms doesn’t have to lead to lengthy meal preps. Instead, rekindle a love for cooking (and eating) with these ingredient essentials.
Certain ingredients, such as squash, pumpkin, broccoli, cauliflower, pineapple, and watermelon, are challenging to prepare. Wrestling with the produce and risking an injury from a sharp knife may be a deterrent to enjoying these nutrient-dense foods.
But don’t deprive your tastebuds of your favorite flavors. Instead, opt for prechopped! While the convenience comes at a premium price, you can buy ready-to-go ingredients in amounts you know won't go to waste. This will help reduce prep time and the struggles associated with managing Parkinson’s disease symptoms.
Embrace the freezer aisle
There is no shame in the freezer game! In fact, frozen produce often gets picked at peak harvest – contributing greater concentrations of health-promoting nutrients. Simply pick options that don’t contain added marinades or salts!
Frozen produce is washed, cut, prepped, and ready for use, helping to make mealtime a breeze. Easy peasy. For example, frozen sweet corn, frozen quinoa, and frozen roasted bell peppers can be quickly combined with an herb-spice blend, then heated in a pan, and served with a side of scrambled eggs.
Whether you struggle with symptom management or simply want to take the stress out of mealtime, convenience foods are a must. Using foods like microwaveable whole grains, preassembled salads, vacuum-sealed lentils, or canned legumes (with an electric can opener) can keep nutrient density high with minimal effort.
Easy meal assembly ideas
Who doesn’t love a healthy meal ready in minutes? Get your daily food-spiration by checking out these low-prep recipe ideas.
Create a fiesta for your tastebuds by grabbing a hard- or soft-shell taco and topping it with canned kidney beans, ready-to-go salsa, and shredded cheese. To cut down on sodium intake, don’t forget to rinse your beans before use.
Then, simply season your creation with cumin, chili, and garlic powder for a familiar Mexican-inspired flare. Top with some lime juice and Greek yogurt in place of sour cream for more flavor.
Combine canned salmon with reduced-fat mayo and a dash of mustard. Then, enjoy it plain or on top of your favorite whole-grain bread. For added flavor, build your toast with a slice of cheese and pickles or avocado.
In a small bowl, combine liquid or beaten eggs and your favorite easy-to-cut vegetables such as zucchini, bell pepper, and mushrooms. Then, sprinkle in some cheese, put the mixture in a mug, and toss it in the microwave. No pans or heavy-duty cutting is necessary! Timing will vary depending on your microwave. Search microwave frittatas online and you'll find dozens of easy recipes.
Take your tastebuds for a tour around the world by creating an irresistible yet low-prep bowl. Create your base with prewashed greens or microwaveable brown rice. Then, add whole cherry tomatoes, low-fat feta cheese, hummus, store-bought roasted chickpeas, sliced cucumbers, dried herbs, and olive oil.
This fiber-filled dish can help improve gastrointestinal health and bowel movement – common struggles among people who take medications for Parkinson’s disease.1
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