What is the spoon theory?

What is the spoon theory?

For some people, energy and stamina is taken for granted. It’s something we have seemingly endless amounts of, and spend little time dwelling over. For those with disabilities like lupus, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome however, it is limited.

A growing number of people with conditions like this are using spoons to quantify how they feel on any given day. Energy levels can’t be measured scientifically, so the spoon unit of measurement is a fun way to explain things.

So, why spoons?

Cutlery entered the picture back in 2003 when Christine Miserandino was trying to explain what it’s like to live with lupus to her friend. At the time they were in a cafe, so Christine used spoons as her props.

She counted out 12 spoons and explained that everyday tasks like eating breakfast and getting dressed would cost her X amount of spoons. She gave her friend the spoons and asked her to describe an average day, taking away the appropriate number of spoons accordingly.

By the end of the day, her friend realised she didn’t have enough spoons to cook dinner and wash up, so she had to start making choices about how to spend her remaining spoons. This gave her an insight into the choices someone with limited energy levels has to make on a daily basis.

Christina even explains how she has to plan days of rest or ‘scheduled crash landings’ when she gets into a ‘spoon deficit’. These days enable her to recover from ‘non-standard’ events such as weddings or hospital trips.

The idea has snowballed since Christina blogged about spoons in 2010 and now many people use the theory when explaining their condition. The word ‘spoons’ now crops up when discussing chronic illness, and the term has united a community – who call themselves spoonies.

Share this article with a friend
Katherine Nicholls

Written by Katherine Nicholls

Kat is a Content Producer for Memiah and writer for Counselling Directory and Happiful magazine.

Written by Katherine Nicholls

Show comments

Find a counsellor or psychotherapist dealing with disabilities

All therapists are verified professionals.

Related Articles

More articles

Real Stories

More stories