Christine Miserandino coined the term “spoon theory” in 2003 while sitting in a diner with a friend.
Miserandino wanted to explain what it felt like living with lupus — a chronic, autoimmune disease. She handed her friend 12 spoons and said they represented the total amount of energy she had when she woke up every day. She could not get more spoons — just like Miserandino couldn’t get more energy.
Miserandino then explained that basic daily tasks, like getting up, preparing and eating breakfast, and getting dressed would diminish the supply of spoons. This meant that she had to give careful thought to what tasks or social activities to engage in each day.
From there, spoon theory was born, and today, the idea has grown in popularity, sparking a supportive online community around those living with chronic illnesses or who are disabled. They call themselves “spoonies.”