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Cooking With RA: 7 Ways to Make Meals Easier

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Because rheumatoid arthritis most commonly affects the small joints of the body, particularly the hands, cooking can be a real challenge. Peeling, chopping, stirring, slicing, opening jars and cans -- all can be painful, at best, and impossible, at worst, for fingers affected by rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

It's easy to give in to the temptation to order takeout or run through a drive-thru every night. But if you have RA, you may be at greater risk for nutritional deficiencies, so it’s important that you feed your family -- and yourself -- a good, balanced diet.

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Diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in the early stages can be difficult. There is no single test that can clearly identify rheumatoid arthritis. Instead, doctors diagnose rheumatoid arthritis based on factors that are strongly associated with the disease. The American College of Rheumatology uses this list of criteria: Morning stiffness in and around the joints for at least one hour. Swelling or fluid around three or more joints simultaneously. At least one swollen area in the wrist,...

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To make cooking easier and less painful, try these kitchen tricks from Melinda Winner, a mother and grandmother with several forms of arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis. She is the author of A Complete Guide to Cooking with Arthritis.

1. Slice with a push. Apple corers aren’t just for apples. Use one to slice or chop potatoes, squash, cucumbers, pears, and other produce. Steady the fruit or vegetable on the cutting board by cutting off the end to make it level. Then, with one side of the corer handle facing your body and the other handle facing away, put your forearms on the handles and use the weight of your body to push it through your produce and slice.

2. Put a ring on it. Wear a plain, inexpensive ring on your thumb and use it like a bottle opener for yogurt, sour cream and similar packages. Position the ring under the lid’s edge, lift up with your hand and the lid pops off -- no need to grasp with fingers.

3. Roll heavy loads. Moving a heavy pot of water from the sink to the stove, or back again? Use a plant stand with wheels. Fill the pot using a measuring cup, then push the plant stand to the stove and slide it onto the burner.

4. Dice by pushing a button. Today, you can buy many veggies and fruits precut, although Winner recommends a food processor instead. A food processor can do everything from slicing, shredding, and chopping to making pie crust from start to finish.

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