• Mon, Feb 27 2012

Pica, The Eating Disorder That Reality TV Loves, Needs Real Attention

Eating Disorder Awareness Week

Everyone gets cravings that they know they shouldn’t indulge. But what if the food that you couldn’t stop fantasizing about wasn’t food at all? That’s what one woman (and countless others) experienced. It’s called pica, and it can cause an uunusual and even dangerous appetite for non-food items, like chalk, drywall, and even paint chips.

The medicinal and psychiatric community is split about whether or not pica (pronounced PIE-kah) is a true eating disorderan addiction, or just a disorder that drives people to eat unusual and potentially dangerous items. But regardless of what it is, it’s definitely a real and difficult experience.

“Sue,” who wished to remain anonymous, suffered from pica, an eating disorder that is characterized by an appetite for non-food items, for three years. She says she first felt cravings during her freshman year of college.

I would just sit in class and watch my professors write with the chalk and think it looked really good.  I would imagine biting into it and eating it. I finally started taking pieces of it to eat alone in my dorm room when my roommate was at class. It was really good.

But, she says, it didn’t stop with chalk. She also craved other hard, dusty items often linked with pica, like kitty litter and clay-based potting soil. Though chalk was the only one she ever indulged.

I couldn’t really buy any of the other things I wanted, and, like, it would just be too weird to have it. I couldn’t just…hide a bag of kitty litter in my room. And I didn’t want just any dirt. It was a really specific kind of craving. It’s hard to describe… but I wanted it. I thought about it a lot. So I just ate chalk. And when I ran out, I would keep thinking about ways I could get more without getting caught.

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  • D.

    This happens with me and soap, I crave it so much. I tried to bite into a bar of soap, and ended up gagging and burning my tongue. Needless to say, not happening again.

  • Kim

    I am 41 years old and started eating chalk about a year ago. All of the sudden, I just craved chalk. I never even heard of Pica or thought about or tasted chalk in my life. But here I was, 40 years old and found myself with these intense cravings. Needles to say, I gave in and have been hooked ever since. It has to be the crayola white chalk. I have tried all other brands and Crayola tastes the best, with no strange after-tastes.
    After eating chalk for about 6 months, I found myself very dizzy and passing out one day as I was shopping. I ended being admitted to the hospital becaue my blood count was below a “6″. That is the day I found out I am severely anemic. I was given bood transfusions and sent home, to now be checked on a regular basis. As soon as my blood count levels were at a normal level, the intense cravings for chalk were gone. I tried the chalk, but it tasted disgusting. I have found that when the cravings come back, my anemia is at work again, and I need to get iron infusions. The amazing thing to me, is that my body would even crave chalk, when I had no idea what it even tasted like. Very interesting and I think anyone that goes through these intense cravings of chalk, talk to their doctor and get a complete check-up. I hope my story can help someone out there. Thanks!

  • Anna

    Animals eat natural chalk, calcium deficiency. I’ve been eating chalk since school.
    But it’s got bad chemicals. Try this one very tasty all natural. Just make sure not too much and with salad to avoid constipation.
    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=221329637022&ssPageName=ADME:L:LCA:US:1123#ht_135wt_1276