November 23, 2020

What is the Spoon Theory?

Specialty Infusion Blog Viv C


The Spoon Theory applies to chronic illnesses, but what is the Spoon Theory, and how can it help those with chronic illnesses—and people without it?

The Spoon Theory Explained

The Spoon Theory was created by Christine Miserando as a way to explain the amount of physical and mental energy daily activities take for people with chronic illnesses. According to WebMD, Miserando gave her friends 12 spoons while they were all sitting at a diner. Miserando said each spoon represented one task—whether it was brushing your teeth, showering, or standing on a train. Spoons are meant to be a visual representation as a unit of measure to quantify how much energy a person has in a given day. A spoon gets taken away after the completion of each tasks, big or small. Thus, after 12 tasks in a day someone with chronic illness would have their energy completely depleted. Once a person with chronic illness uses their spoons for activities, spoons can only be replenished through rest.

Why the Spoon Theory is Important

Miserando wanted a way to facilitate conversation between those who suffered from chronic disease and people who don’t. By illustrating the quantity of energy people battling chronic illness have, those who don’t suffer got a powerful metaphor to understand why activities may be challenging for their friends. This theory helps “healthy” people understand the amount of energy expended by those battling chronic illness to complete ordinary tasks, such as bathing or getting dressed, and how draining it can be.

Today, the Spoon Theory has become so impactful that people with autoimmune diseases call themselves “spoonies.”

How to Implement The Spoon Theory

Everyone copes differently to autoimmune diseases. So, for some, the Spoon Theory may be an extremely important tool to understanding how much energy you have in a given day. Assigning your day’s activities as spoons may prevent you from overexertion.

Now that you know what is the Spoon Theory, it’s up to you to see if this metaphor can be adopted into your life and how you battle your chronic illness.