For many parents, exhaustion is a constant state of being.
This is especially the case for disabled parents and those who face chronic fatigue, for whom energy needs to be spent more carefully. Many use phrases like “low spoon” or “low on spoons” to explain why this happens to them.
Low spoon mode and ready to take a nap. However the other soccer parents may not look so kindly on my sleeping in the car. pic.twitter.com/nbEM1IK03p
The phrase comes from “spoon theory,” which was created by disability activist Christine Miserandino as a metaphor for how disabled and chronically ill individuals have to make different life choices, depending on how tired they feel. Using spoons as a unit of measurement for energy, she made the point that while able-bodied people have an infinite number of spoons to accomplish everything they need to do in a day, people with health conditions need to consider how many spoons they have before going through with an activity.
So for parents who are already dealing with a severe lack of sleep and keeping up with busy schedules, on top of their health conditions, at the end of the day it’s easy to run out of spoons for making healthy family meals. That’s why we’ve rounded up some easy low-spoons recipes to pull out when your energy levels are at an all-time low, but you still need to put something edible on the table.
So, check out the gallery below for some recipe inspiration!
Note: If you’re on a mobile device, click on the images to see more info.
Microwave veggie chili
Pasta With A Two-Ingredient Sauce
Scrambled eggs and vegetables
Crackers, cheese, fruits and nuts
"Gourmet" instant ramen
Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Macaroni and Cheese
Sausages in tomato sauce
Lentil and bulgur salad
What makes a meal “low-spoons?”
Low-spoons meals prioritize taking as little energy as possible, while still putting food in your belly. Don’t expect to cook up a Michelin-level gourmet feast or one that’s necessarily the health-nut option. The golden rule for low-spoons recipes? Any nutrition is better than not eating at all.
“Depression meals” come from a similar motivation. This online food trend, where people post their questionable culinary creations made while depressed, stems from people not feeling well enough to make a nutritious meal.
One time I cooked frozen pizza rolls in the microwave but I put too much time on the microwave and they became crusty little depression bricks. I ate them anyway because at the time I thought I deserved nothing but depression bricks
Health professionals don’t look down on these meal-making methods.
“I would rather you eat [a box of macaroni and cheese] than nothing at all. That’s called harm reduction,” dietician Abby Langer told Global News.
Many low-spoons recipes make ample use of microwaving to save time and cut down on as much prep work as possible. Measurements are fairly loose, as calculating exact ratios can cause a high degree of mental strain. Most ingredients are inexpensive and may even be in your pantry already.
As with all recipes, there’s room to make these meals your own: several offer various ways to kick flavours up a notch or make them more hearty if you’ve got a few more spoons to spare.
To combat how common it is for low-energy people to run out of spoons to make food, several blogs are dedicated to low-spoons recipes, including Low Spoons Food and Fibro Food Fairy. Recipes are sorted by spoon levels, with more spoons taking up more energy to prepare. There are even communities built around low-spoon food. Jesse Macmillan, a journalism student from P.E.I., founded the Facebook group “Cooking Without Spoons,” to share meal-planning strategies. Macmillan told CBC that because of his disabilities, he needs a lot of time to recharge.
“Everybody’s really nice, they want to help each other out … they just want to share with other people who are struggling,” he said.