21 10 / 2014
as many of you know, the spoon theory has been frequently discussed on this blog: what is it? who can use it? why are we discussing it here? basically, a lot of conversation about a nuanced, but very important, topic. so, welcome, to the big ol’ spoons masterpost. here, i’m going to attempt to explain as easily and thoroughly as i can what the spoon theory it is, who can use it, and why it’s important to this blog. here we go!
what is the spoon theory?
- the spoon theory originated with christine miserandino, who used it to explain to her friend what it is like to live with lupus — you can read the full background story in this article on butyoudontlooksick.com.
- the spoon theory is a metaphor for what people dealing with chronic illness / chronic pain go through each and every day. you can think of spoons as being comparable to a measuring unit for energy and ability to do things.
- healthy people have a never-ending supply of spoons, i.e., you wake up, and you use your day to do what you want. you to go to work, you cook dinner, you hang out with friends, go out, watch tv, clean your house, etc. you might get tired, but you can do all those things — you have the ability, and you can pick and choose what you do.
- chronically ill people have a limited supply of spoons, or energy / ability. their spoons very from day to day. “low spoons” days are low ability or low energy days, days where chronically ill people just can’t do as much as healthy people. so, if various activities (such as the ones listed above) cost spoons / energy, these people have to carefully plan out their day and prioritize what they would like to do with their limited energy.
- here is an excerpt from christine miserandino’s article linked above to illustrate just how much thought goes into living just one day with chronic illness:
- “Showering cost her spoon, just for washing her hair and shaving her legs. Reaching high and low that early in the morning could actually cost more than one spoon, but I figured I would give her a break; I didn’t want to scare her right away. Getting dressed was worth another spoon. I stopped her and broke down every task to show her how every little detail needs to be thought about. You cannot simply just throw clothes on when you are sick. I explained that I have to see what clothes I can physically put on, if my hands hurt that day buttons are out of the question. If I have bruises that day, I need to wear long sleeves, and if I have a fever I need a sweater to stay warm and so on. If my hair is falling out I need to spend more time to look presentable, and then you need to factor in another 5 minutes for feeling badly that it took you 2 hours to do all this.
- basically, the spoon theory is used to describe the limitations of living with a chronic illness.
who can use spoon theory to describe themselves?
- this has always been a complicated discussion. what is abundantly clear is that spoons is not a metaphor for tiredness or laziness. spoons are not an emotion, or a hyperbole one can use to exaggerate how one is feeling. it is completely insensitive and unacceptable to people struggling with chronic illness to parallel their daily battle to a mood or lack of motivation. using this kind of language incorrectly is ableist, as it diminishes the real lived difficulties of people with chronic illness.
- spoons can apply to people with visible and invisible illnesses. some disorders that are draining but not always readily visible to others are : depression, ptsd, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, POTS, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and endometriosis. (taken from thespoontheory.tumblr.com's FAQ)
- you cannot use spoon theory to describe yourself if your illness is a one time occurrence and not chronic; for example, the flu.
- it’s debatable whether spoons can be used to describe allergic reactions — on the one hand, severe allergies require the presence of the allergen for someone’s abilities to be altered. essentially, unlimited spoons are available as long as the person takes this preventative measure. on the other hand, some argue that severe allergies can cause a multitude of other health issues, including severe anxiety. severe anxiety can absolutely limit spoons, and thus it is something to take into consideration.
why is the spoon theory important to no-more-ramen?
- this blog is an intersectional space, meant to be filled with recipes that people of all levels of access and ability can create. so, while much of our blog caters to recipes that are inexpensive and take little time to prepare, energy levels are also important to take into consideration.
- there are certain things that people with low spoons might be less able to do : recipes that include a lot of chopping, a lot of time standing over the stove, a lot of cleanup. this is why no-more-ramen has specific tags for needs like this.
- the no chopping tag is exactly what it sounds like — recipes that involve no chopping or knifework. everything is frozen or from a can for easy preparation.
- the crockpot tag is for recipes that can be placed into a slow cooker and left. that’s less time spent standing and working in the kitchen.
- the general tips tag has not only tips for budget shopping and recipe tricks, but also suggestions to make cleanup easier on someone who doesn’t have many or any spoons left after cooking.
- these are key things to keep in mind when submitting a recipe! you can help someone create the comfort of a home-cooked meal while sacrificing less of their ability to do things with the other parts of their day. that’s important, and awesome, and can really improve someone’s quality of life.
and there you have it! the big ol’ spoons masterpost. please let me know if you have any corrections or additions you think should be included. thank you!