Have you ever felt like eating chalk, paint, dirt, earth, clay, sand, dust / dirt? Have you noticed your children are doing this? You might think I'm talking bizarre! Don't worry, I'm sober: P!
I was considering writing this post when I noticed Ana asking questions to Facebook groups where moms interact. She was worried that her angel was eating dirt and she couldn't understand why!
I knew I had to accept what I always kept from everyone. I literally consumed chalk boxes and can't even count how many :(. I ate mud or sand a few years ago! Needless to say, I felt completely abnormal 🙁
This disorder, when a person craves to eat non-food items, is called Pica. It occurs mainly in children and women (including pregnant women!).
Causes of pica
- Toxicity from ingested substances
The exact cause of the cravings for non-food items is unknown. Many biochemical, psychological, and cultural factors at home or at work can be implicated in this disorder. Pica is often associated with iron deficiency, even though none of the coveted items contain iron.
How to deal with pica
Pica is a taboo in India. I remember the first time I longed to eat chalk was when I was 5 years old. I thought I am no longer human because I long for things that people don't eat! You see, I was scared to talk about it until my mom caught me near a wall trying to scrape sand off the wall.
I haven't told anyone in years. It's because I felt absolutely abnormal! My reason for Pica was anemia. Whenever my hemoglobin became normal, I no longer suffered from pica.
Unfortunately there is no test which diagnoses pica. Pica generally occurs in people who are low in nutrients or who suffer from malnutrition. Generally, blood tests are done to check levels of hemoglobin, iron, and zinc. If you find that you or your children are craving paint or something that may contain lead, the lead levels should also be checked. Children who eat painted, leaded patches can suffer brain damage from lead poisoning.
The best way to deal with pica is to understand that there is nothing strange about it and the person is perfectly sane. I've seen people think differently when they find someone who eats a non-food product! Pica is absolutely a nutritional problem, not a mental problem.
If you find that your children are craving for non-food items, please see a doctor. I wish I had dared to speak to my mother about this at an early stage. I would have escaped an acute anemia that I suffered from for years! Remember, one stitch in time saves nine!
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