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Food Preparation

The profound fatigue associated with ME/CFS and Long-COVID can make shopping for groceries and preparing meals a daunting task. On top of that, if you require specific dietary restrictions to manage sensitivities or symptoms, it can take even more planning. Here we list some strategies that can help. If you have other ideas to share, email us at feedback@mefm.bc.ca.

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Shopping

Use lists to help with brain fog and memory.

Try online shopping or meal delivery services.  

Stock up on canned, frozen and dry ingredients like fruit, vegetables and pasta.

You can buy extra sliced bread to freeze (wheat, sourdough or gluten-free) if you either thaw it in the fridge completely before opening the bag or take pieces out of the frozen bag to toast.

Buy healthy, pre-cut and non-cook snacks (nuts, yogurt, fruit).

Read ingredient lists, especially if you are following specific restrictive diets.

  • Bring a list of ingredients or foods you can and cannot eat with you (ex: sugars and additives with long names; certain fruits/veggies that do/don’t work).

  • Look carefully to find a few pre-cooked frozen meals that have no additives and healthy ingredients that fit your diet.

Meal Prep

Make lists as you run out of things.

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Prepare pre-chopped ingredients you use a lot and freeze

  • For fruit, veggies and shredded cheese, texture is retained best fi you freeze the food loosely set out on trays and then pour the frozen food into bags for storage.

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Consider dehydrating and making your own fruit leathers (you can purchase a dehydrator or use your oven with trays and racks).

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Be realistic and delegate when needed. If you need to have a conversation with family around new cooking responsibilities, do so.

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Break tasks into smaller steps and take regular breaks.

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If you can afford to order in sometimes, identify several menu items from a few restaurants that meet your dietary needs and are healthy for you (and your family).

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When you do cook, make larger batches and freeze portions for later (works very well with soups, stews, and chilis).

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Consider time of day: when do you usually have the most energy? Do your meal prep then.

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Kitchen Ergonomics and Tools

For some recommendations that help with energy and pain management while preparing meals, see here. Includes ideas for:

  • kitchen ergonomics (like sitting for meal prep), 

  • tools (like jar openers and light-weight pots and pans)

  • kitchen organization (like keeping utensils close and using roll-out shelving)

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Some easy, low-FODMAP food ideas from an ME patient in Langley

 For a larger potato or weaker microwave, it can take 10+ minutes to cook.  When microwaving a potato: poke several holes in the skin to avoid it bursting, and toss a piece of wax paper or a microwave cooking cover over the potato to avoid starch sprays.

“Greek yogurt can be purchased lactose free. However, the dietitian I am working with says that people who have trouble with dairy may be able to tolerate Greek yogurts and hard cheeses. Also people who have trouble with gluten may be okay with Sourdough bread.”

Note that some people may have issues with certain foods, like cucumber. For ALL food ideas, work with a healthcare provider and try things for yourself. Everyone is different.

“A microwaved potato with butter, salt, sour cream, tastes almost as good as a baked potato and is ready in less than 5 minutes. Add some nuked frozen veggies and protein and you are set... (rotisserie chicken or a slice of ham.)"

"Greek yogurt has lots of protein. Mixed with berries, flax seed, hemp protein, granola,.... makes a great fast breakfast."

"Greek yogurt mixed with grated cucumber, dill, onion, mint, salt and pepper makes a delicious savory meal. Goes great over the nuked potato. Or with Flatbread. Easy to make ahead and keep.”

Easy Low FODMAP

Low-FODMAP Recipes for People with GI issues (like IBS)

An excellent site by a registered dietitian for low-FODMAP  recipes (for anyone with IBS), this page has:

  • Featured/favourite recipes 

  • recipes by key ingredient (plant-based, pork, pasta, etc.) 

  • recipes by category (breakfast, dessert, slow cooker, etc.) 

  • Recipes include: # of servings, serving sizes, calories, fat, fiber, carbs and protein.

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Low fodmap tex-mex turkey and brown rice bake   

    

Printable version, with nutrition information, serving sizes and additional notes.  

 

Thank you to Em Schwartz, MS, RDN at funwithoutfodmaps.com.

Easy and cheesy Low FODMAP Tex-Mex Turkey and Brown Rice Bake uses just 8 ingredients and can be ready in about 30 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked brown rice (Em, this recipe’s author, likes to use Birdseye Steamfresh Frozen Brown Rice.)

  • 2 tablespoons garlic-infused olive oil

  • 1 (20-ounce) package lean ground turkey

  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes

  • 1 (4-ounce) can chopped mild green chiles, drained

  • 2 teaspoons low FODMAP taco seasoning (OR substitute 1½ teaspoons smoked paprika and ¼ to ½ teaspoon salt)

  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin

  • 1 to 1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese (or 1 cup dairy-free cheddar-style shreds)

Optional garnishes: Sliced green onion tops (green parts only), chopped cilantro

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat a 9” x 9” baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

  • If not already cooked, prepare the brown rice according to package instructions.

  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic-infused oil and ground turkey. Cook the turkey, breaking into crumbles, until no longer pink, about 5-7 minutes. Turn off the heat.

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  • Add the cooked brown rice, diced tomatoes, green chiles, low FODMAP taco seasoning, and cumin. Stir to mix. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese evenly on top. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil.

  • Bake covered for 18-20 minutes or until the rice mixture is warm and bubbling. Remove foil and bake uncovered for an additional 5 minutes or until the cheese is nice and melty. Remove from the oven and cool for several minutes.

  • Serve warm topped with optional sliced green onion tops (green parts only) and fresh cilantro.

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