My Friend, the Food Processor

The first time my jaw flared up, I was fifteen years old and on a family vacation to Walt Disney World. I already wasn’t feeling great to begin with due to nausea and fatigue from a new medication, but my new pain really put a damper on my trip. You see, my family doesn’t really go to Disney World for the rides… we go for the food! Not only did my jaw hurt, but my heart hurt because I really wasn’t enjoying all my favorite meals. In fact, many times it was so painful that I simply wasn’t hungry.

Having arthritis affect your jaw can be devastating. You don’t realize how much you need and use your jaw until you can’t use it. It can even make it hard to find a comfortable sleep position (as if that wasn’t already hard enough with PsA). But I think one of the worst parts is not being able to enjoy your favorite foods due to their consistency. Somehow, I only crave crunchy or chewy things when my jaw hurts!

But after years of living with PsA in my jaw, I’ve learned two things: 1) a soft food diet for a week or two can really help calm a flare (mixed with physical therapy and other treatment), and 2) soft food gets boring very quickly. But as food lover, I was determined to make the best of it, which is how I got creative and made a new friend.

Getting creative with my food processor

My food processor has been my best friend during flares. Through thick and thin, it’s been there to break down what my jaw cannot. I recommend a food processor to anyone who suffers jaw pain, and even a blender will suffice. While you might be tempted to think it’s a wasteful investment, you may be surprised by how much use you’ll get out of it during a flare. It also has the bonus feature of chopping ingredients in the event other joints are flaring!

Take soup as an example. Now, once you get past a few puree soups like tomato, butternut squash, and cream of mushroom, there aren’t many “smooth” soups. Many contain chunks of ingredients, and while they may seem very small normally, it may be too much to handle during flares. Being able to put broccoli cheddar soup, clam chowder, potato leek soup, and other things through a food processor can make them far more manageable. While I haven’t done this yet, I know others who have even put chili and casserole ingredients through the processor to create much smaller pieces (not usually a total puree).

Another thing it’s great for is creating your own smoothies and milkshakes. There are times eating may not be appealing whatsoever, even though you really need the nutrients. Being able to create your own drinks ensures that you are getting some vitamins and calcium (especially if you use good ingredients like fresh fruit, vegetables, and low-fat milk), without all the added sugar that many pre-made drinks contain. This is especially good for those who are treating their PsA using diet, since you can incorporate lots of anti-inflammatory foods.

Of course, one doesn’t want to pull out their food processor for every meal (understandably- they’re a bit of a pain to clean). And there are lots of foods that are great without it! Mashed potatoes, yogurt, eggs, steamed veggies (cut tiny), guac, hummus, and others are good sources of vitamins and minerals. Though these can sound a little boring, I highly recommend getting creative and experimenting! One of my favorite creations is mixing in some avocado with scrambled egg- it’s a totally different and delicious take on a dish that otherwise gets boring after some time.

Opportunity for experimentation

Jaw pain can be hard to deal with. And while it can mean steak may be off the table for a little bit, it doesn’t mean all the good food has to go away. You may even take it as an opportunity to experiment in the kitchen, attempting your own recipes or finding some online! I might even go so far as to freeze it for later, because it could come in handy when a flare comes and you just don’t feel like cooking (I’m guilty of this). Go, have fun! See what you create!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Psoriatic-Arthritis.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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