Independent Living Aids for Cooking and Eating
Last updated: October 2022
Many of us with myasthenia gravis suffer with varying degrees of weakness and pain. Activities most people take advantage of are more difficult for us. Whether you love to cook or if it’s just a necessity, there are aids to help make it easier.
Even if you don’t cook from scratch or with fresh produce like I do, you may not always be able to avoid having to chop or cut something. Therefore, there are cutting aids we can use.
One of those aids is a rocking knife. It has a "T" handle and curved blade. To use, grip the handle while rocking the blade back and forth to cut the food. A vinyl case is available for storage, which I would recommend having as a safety feature.
Even if you are able to perform this function without any issues, there are safety devices that would work for anyone such as a finger guard/protector when cutting or chopping.
If you need to chop something, you may also need a cutting board. When purchasing one, I like to get it with some type of non-slip device on it. It can be quite irritating and dangerous when the board slips or slides away from you. Another solution to the "slip and slide" is to put a damp dishtowel under the board.
Besides the usual boards you can purchase in most stores, some medical supply companies also have cutting boards that may help with gripping and cutting food. One in particular resembles a vice and will hold food in place while you cut it. They can be pricy, but in my opinion, it’s worth it if it provides the safety and assistance you need.
If you really do not want to invest in all the equipment needed for chopping, or you don’t like to prepare food, much of our food today either comes cut or chopped, or we can ask for it to be done. I personally don’t buy my produce already chopped because I prefer to cut my own. It tastes fresher to us.
However, one little hint, if you get a salad and it has a bit of an old taste or not as fresh or crisp as you’d like, dump the cut salad into a colander and set it in a larger bowl or clean sink of ice water. Allow it to soak at least 30 minutes in the ice water, drain, then rinse a couple times. If you have a salad spinner, you can get most of the water off your salad with it. This was a brilliant idea from my husband, a very good cook himself!
Myasthenia gravis weakness may lead us to have more difficulty than ever opening jars or bottles. I’ve kept a non-slip jar opener in my kitchen most of my adult life! Even those without muscle weakness can have problems opening products.
An under cabinet mounted jar opener is also available. I’m considering one myself! Because every day products are generally less expensive than those specialty medical supply items, if it works for me, I get it.
If you aren’t using a mobility aid, but you do tire quickly, a stool to sit on while you work in the kitchen may be just the solution you need. This is exactly what I did prior to my mobility aids. It worked great, and when I was done with it, I could move it out of the way or others could use it. They are available with or without arms or back.
Have you ever been stirring something and the pan moves all over the burner or stove? There’s even something for that! It’s called a pan holder. It has 3 suction cups and allows for one-handed stirring. I do not have one, but I would love one as my MG pain in my left arm and neck is so bad, I usually cannot lift that arm much.
There have been times I’ve nearly ended up with the hot pan or skillet of hot food in my lap! I may get one. If I do, I’ll let you know how well it functions. I’m sure just from a safety standpoint, it would be well worth the money!
You can also get a non-fatigue mat. There are some that are intended for cooking. There may be some differences, but you can also get near the same thing from stores that sell rugs and/or kitchen products and they generally cost less. They work well to reduce back, leg, and foot fatigue. I urge you to compare and try them out prior to purchasing one.
For those with impaired vision, some of these products may help:
- Cutting boards with sides on them to prevent the food from sliding off
- High contrast cutting boards
- High contrast measuring cups and spoons
If you have difficulty feeding yourself, there are many products on the market to help. Here are some independent living aids for eating:
- Utensil hand clip
- Plates with sides or guards you can add
- Cups with 2 handles
- Spill-proof cups
- Angled/curved utensils
- Utensils with grips
- Electric salt and pepper grinder
Here are just a few other cooking aids available:
- Vegetable/fruit holder for peeling
- Choppers that grip the surface
- One-handed canister sets
- Long push/pull oven stick
- Knob turner for the stove
- One-handed or easy-open can opener
- Cut resistant gloves
- Peelers and graters with thicker handles and good grip
- Egg cutter
- Vegetable chopper with collector
- Herb scissors
- Herb stripper
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