CONFIDENTIAL AND AFFORDABLE… CALL US FOR AN APPOINTMENT. WE ARE HERE FOR YOU

Do You Crave Dirt or Other Non-food Items?

Do You Crave Dirt or Other Non-food Items?

Pica is a rare eating disorder in which children, teens, or adults crave and eat items that have no nutritional value whatsoever. Though it’s normal for babies and toddlers to mouth nonfood items, it isn’t normal or healthy for older children or adults.

Some cultures encourage the consumption of clay to increase minerals in the diet. Pregnant women may also crave mineral-rich clay or other items that aren’t normally considered food, as their body’s way of trying to compensate for nutritional deficiencies.

However, if pica persists or isn’t related to culturally condoned medicinal practices or pregnancy, it’s a potentially life-threatening condition. Some people with pica stop eating regular food. Others may have a normal diet, but the types of non-food items they ingest put them at risk for severe medical consequences.

Pica is also common among people on the autism spectrum or those with mental health or cognitive disorders. If you suspect that you or someone you love has pica, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

At The Soho Center for Mental Health, our expert counselors work with your medical team to help resolve your pica and ensure that you get the nutrition you need to thrive. Following are signs that you or someone you love may need treatment for the eating disorder pica.

You crave and eat clay or dirt

If you’re pregnant and find yourself eating clay or dirt, you may lack key nutrients that your body needs. Tell your family physician or OB/GYN about your cravings. They draw blood to determine if you lack nutrients such as iron, zinc, and vitamins.

In most cases, supplying your body with the nutrients it craves through a healthy diet and supplements resolves your pica. However, if you persist in craving nonfood items, you may need therapy to resolve your eating disorder.

You crave and eat paper, toys, or other nonfood items

People with pica may eat a variety of objects that have no nutritional value whatsoever. In these cases, their body isn’t attempting to resolve deficiencies.

Following is a list of some of the most common nonfood items associated with pica. If you have a child under the age of two years who mouths these items, that’s normal behavior for their developmental stage. However, a child of any age or an adult who actually swallows the following items should receive medical attention:

If you have pica, you might also engage in other destructive behaviors, such as picking at your skin or pulling your hair out.

Pica is dangerous

Eating nonfood items puts you at risk for serious medical complications. Some items can’t be digested and may damage your gastrointestinal tract. Others contain poisons or bacteria that could threaten your health or your life. Possible complications of pica include: 

If you suspect that you or someone you love has pica, contact a medical professional right away to determine if you have nutritional deficiencies or damage from eating nonfood items. 

Get help for pica

In addition to resolving medical complications from pica, it’s essential to stop eating nonfood items to preserve your health and life. We offer customized counseling for pica sufferers and their families to help you control cravings and learn healthier behaviors.

Contact our experts today for an eating disorder consultation and treatment. Use our online form, or call our friendly staff during office hours. 

You Might Also Enjoy...

The Many Benefits of Couples Counseling

The last thing you want is a failed relationship. Whether you’re still in the blush of new love or you’re encountering your first — or hundredth — bump in the road, couples counseling helps your relationship grow and deepen.

A Closer Look at Recovery from Substance Abuse

You know you need to get your substance use under control. But you aren’t sure you can do it. What will life look like and feel like when you stop self-medicating with recreational drugs, alcohol, food, or other substances? Here’s a glimpse.

The Lesser-Known Symptoms of Depression

You aren’t depressed, you insist. You’re just ticked off. Or you can’t focus. Or you’re sleepy all the time. Those traits, and others, are some of the lesser known symptoms of depression. Depression can be treated. Treatment makes you feel better.

Are You at Risk for Alcoholism?

A couple of drinks take the edge off your day. And maybe a couple more help keep your spirits high and the conversation flowing when you’re out with friends. You think you’re in control of your drinking. But are you?

Eating Disorders in Men: Why Early Treatment Matters

The stereotypical view of eating disorders is that they affect teen girls, who have anorexia or bulimia. But eating disorders strike all ages and all genders. If you’re a man with an eating disorder, early treatment is essential. Here’s why.

Signs Your Anger Is Out-of-Control

Anger is a normal human emotion that you may experience when a situation spirals out of your control. However, you feel angry most of the time. Or your anger is explosive. Is your anger normal? Or is it hurting you and others? Here’s how to tell.