"Got spoons?" with 4 spoons bordering the text.

Spoon Theory

Cartoon drawing of female patient in a hospital bed with an IV bag hung and a card on the table.
Diagram of day with 20 spoons, divided up based-on how they are allocated throughout the day.

"Spoons", "spoonies"  

& "spoon theory"... What's that all about?


These references to "spoons" in the chronic illness community come from an essay, "The Spoon Theory" by Christine Miserandino, about how it feels to live with a chronic illness.


In her essay, Christine describes talking with a friend in a diner. Her friend asks Christine what it feels like for her to live with Lupus. Christine uses the spoons from the tables around them in the diner as symbols to help explain the limited resources someone with a chronic illness has each day, as well as the choices we must make regarding how to use those resources.

Although Christine was talking to her friend about Lupus, the Spoon Theory has been adopted and embraced as a metaph0r by many in the broader chronic illness community. 


The Spoon Theory gives a common point of reference for a number of difficult to describe aspects of life with an "invisible" illness.

Spoon Theory allows us to...
  • communicate more easily: "I'll come out tonight if I have enough spoons" 

  • think about how to budget our limited resources: "I'll wait on doing laundry so I have enough spoons to make dinner..."

  • identify each other: #spoonielife

"What Is a Spoonie?"
by vlogger Annie Elainey
sideways silver spoon
The Social Media Cure

Slate Article by Amanda Hess

For more resources on conserving your spoons, join one of our global support groups.