Pica in Kids and Women | How To Handle Pica
Have you ever felt like eating chalk, paint, dirt, soil, clay, sand, dust/dirt? Have you noticed your kids doing so? You might think I am talking bizarre! Don’t worry, I am sober :P!
I thought about writing this post when I noticed Ana putting queries on Facebook groups where mommies interact. She was concerned about her angel eating dirt and she could not understand why!
I knew I need to accept what I have always hidden from everyone. I have literally consumed chalk boxes, can’t even count how many :(. I have eaten mud or sand a few years back! Needless to say, I felt completely abnormal
This disorder when a person craves to eat non-food items is called Pica. It is mostly found in kids and women(pregnant women too !).
Causes of Pica
- Intestinal blockages
- Toxicity from ingested substances
The exact cause of craving for non-food items is unknown. A lot of biochemical, psychological, and cultural factors at home or work may be involved in this disorder. Pica is often linked to iron deficiency, even though none of the craved items have iron content in them.
How To Handle Pica
Pica is a taboo in India. I remember, I first craved to eat chalk when I was 5 years old. I thought that I am no longer a human because I crave items that humans don’t eat! You see, I was scared to talk about it until my mum caught me near a wall, when I was trying to scrape sand from the wall.
I did not tell anyone for years. It is so 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 diagnosis Pica. Pica generally occurs in people who have low nutrient levels or suffer from malnutrition. Generally, blood tests are done to check hemoglobin, iron, and zinc level. If you find your children or yourself craving for paint or anything which could contain lead, then lead levels also need to be checked. Children eating painted plaster containing lead may suffer brain damage from lead poisoning.
The best way to handle Pica is to understand that there is nothing bizarre about it and the person is absolutely healthy mentally. I have seen people thinking otherwise when they find someone eating a nonfood item! Pica is absolutely a nutrition issue, not a mental issue.
If you find your kids craving for non-food items, please visit a doctor. I wish I could have dared to talk about it to my mum in the early stages, I would have escaped acute anemia that I had to suffer for years! Remember, a stitch in time saves nine!
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