The Flare Up
A flare up can hit you hard and make getting through normal day to day activities difficult. The stress of the kitchen can make things worse whether you like cooking or not. I know when I have a flare up, my timing becomes the most difficult part of cooking to manage, and being tired from a lack of sleep or just irritable from sore and itchy skin makes it hard to concentrate. As I write this, I have a psoriatic arthritis flare up in my right hand, my knife holding hand, so this adds a further problem.
In the kitchen
There are three ways I deal with cooking. The first is to immerse myself in the kitchen, making an amazing meal to forget my flare up and to treat myself. Preparation is the key here; get all the ingredients ready before you start cooking. I put them all in small dishes and then assemble. Don’t try something new though, do a tried and tested favourite, something you can almost do in your sleep so you don’t add any stress to the situation.
My second technique is to keep it as simple as possible. One-pot cooking is my saviour during a flare up and one of my favourites is chicken and veg.
- Put the roasting dish on the hob and brown off some chicken.
- Add some roughly chopped veg. Peppers, courgettes, onion, tomatoes and sweet potato are my usual selection.
- Mix up the ingredients to make sure the ingredients become coated in the oil.
- As always, make sure you season and with this veg mix, oregano and basil go really well.
- Just put it in the oven to cook.
Another simple idea is to cheat. Ready-made mash can be turned into something sumptuous by heating it up in a pan rather than microwave and add butter and cream. This goes so well with sausages and onion gravy or a slow-roast leg of lamb.
Slow roasting is another stress free way of cooking. All you need to do is put the meat in the oven and you can go about your day while the aromas fill the house.
A salad can keep things very simple and you don’t need to actually cook. You’re still in the kitchen and if your skin is flaring you may not like the heat of the kitchen, so how better to keep cool than avoiding the oven? A salad can be anything you like really, there is such a variety of salad leaves out there now. I like making a French carrot salad, grated carrot with a dressing of Dijon mustard, olive oil, lemon juice and honey. I’ll quite often add this to some cold meat, tomatoes and salad leaves.
The third idea is to make cooking an event. I like to put some music on and get people involved. I will get the family involved to help with the prepping. Make the kitchen somewhere fun to be and psoriasis just seems to drift away, even if it is only for a couple of hours. Of course you could just order out if you wanted and there is nothing wrong with treating yourself when you’re handling a flare up.
What to eat
I tend to eat fresh ingredients most of the time so my diet doesn't change hugely during a flare up. I will eat more vegetables than normal though and often keep them simple. Steaming the veg is a good idea to keep nutrients in that are normally lost through boiling. I will cheat here too and buy the ready-made bags of veg to steam in the microwave, again keeping it simple.
Those meals you used to have as a child that just make you smile and forget your worries. Shepherd’s pie, a slow cooked stew, burger and chips: all easy to eat and give me a warm feeling inside. I go on a bit of a fruit binge when I have a flare up and, although whether the vitamins fruit contains actually help your skin is still open to discussion, it certainly can’t harm to eat more fruit. If eating fruit as it is doesn’t appeal to you, you could try adding it in your cooking. For example, pork stuffed with prunes is a joy – buy a rolled shoulder of pork, lay it out and lay prunes along the meat before rolling it back up and cook as normal. It’s a nice change to the Sunday roast.
I grow rhubarb in the garden, which I chop up and cook down with some strawberries, add a dollop of yoghurt for a very easy tasty dessert. If you’re feeling naughty you can make an Eton Mess: crushed meringue, whipped cream and any fruit you like. Don’t buy a coulis or sauce though, use some of the fruit and liquidise it with a little caster sugar.
That’s my food during a flare up. It is a bit of a mix and the idea is that you should eat what you enjoy and don’t feel pressured into eating certain foods. You have a flare up, treat yourself, why make life harder?