Mmmmm, pica

pica_pregnantchicken.jpg

A pregnant British woman “has told how she has developed a ‘bizarre craving’ for eating her local newspaper,” reports Orange News U.K.. Ann Curran, 35, of Dundee snacks on copies of the Dundee Evening Telegraph. She says it is the ‘only newsprint with the proper flavour’ and that she ‘stashes shredded copies in her purse for emergency snacks. She added: ‘If you shredded up lots of different bits of newspaper, I would know exactly which one was the Evening Telegraph.”

Crazy?

Nope, it's called pica. Which is defined as the persistent and compulsive cravings to eat nonfood items for a period of at least one month at an age that would be developmentally inappropriate. (So, if you can say, "pass me that yummy bucket of sand", you're probably too old to be eating it.)

It is actually quite common in pregnant women and the cravings can range from dirt, clay, burnt matches, stones, charcoal, mothballs, ice, cornstarch, toothpaste, soap, sand, plaster, coffee grounds, baking soda, and sweet, delicious cigarette ashes. 

Of course no one knows for sure why this happens, but it is thought to be linked to a iron deficiency and it's your body's attempt to obtain vitamins or minerals that are missing in your normal diet.

Obviously this can get dangerous. After all, some of these items would be dowright toxic and snacking on a bag of rocks sprinkled with dirt isn't going to go unnoticed at the dinner table, so it isn't always something you give into like a tub of ice-cream.

Most sites recommend you get your iron levels checked. They also suggest that you make sure your cravings aren't poisonous or potentially full of parasites (thanks for the tip), and that you don't interrfere with your regular food consumption (like protien, veggies and kettle corn) – as some proffessionals wonder if often the iron deficiency is caused by the pica instead of the other way around.

I didn't find many suggestions to curb your cravings. Chewing gum seemed the most popular but I don't know how great a replacement that is if you want to eat the contents of an ash tray. The other suggestion was to have a friend stop you if you think you're going to give into a craving. I can just hear the call at work, "No Kathryn, it's not worth it. Don't eat the coffee grounds and toothpaste, you'll regret it!"

What about you? Did you crave anything weird? If you're too busy eating the gravel in the driveway to comment I can wait.

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