Today's post is about pica, a medical disorder where people eat non-food items. Pica comes from the latin word for magpie, a bird known to eat all sorts of weird substances and objects.
People with pica may have cravings for and eat an assortment of non-food items, such as soil, coins, chalk, paper, coal, feces. They may have an odd craving for food items that aren't usually eaten in large quantities, such as ice, salt, flour, or raw rice.
Pica is thought to occur because people have a mineral deficiency (usually-iron deficiency) that causes cravings. It can also be a culturally-specific craving. For instance, white clay (kaolin) has been observed in some African and African-American populations and is not associated with any pathology. Kaolin ingestion may actually be protective, absorbing plant toxins or alkaloids.
In kids, pica can lead to lead poisoning or parasite ingestion, especially with eating dirt of feces of animals.
Who has pica? Typically it's seen in kids, pregnant women, and children with developmental disorders.
I think it's fascinating that our bodies could see food in the objects around us if the conditions were right. It's bizarre yet life-affirming at the same time.
And I thought of the old fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel. Maybe that wasn't a gingerbread candy house. Maybe Hansel and Gretel were poor, malnourished kids who just had pica. Maybe?
Please keep in mind this post is for writing purposes only and is not to be construed as medical advice!
If you've got a medical question, let me know! Post below or email me at
I will usually answer your question by email within a day or two, but post later so you don't have to wait a long time to get back to your WIP. All I ask in return is that you become a follower of my blog and post a link on your blog when I post. Easy peasy.
Also, don't forget to check out Mental Health Mondays at Laura's Blog!