My Pica Eating Disorder Journey
A while back whilst I was shoving a handful of raw rice in my mouth, and getting that ‘fix’ that only Raw Rice eaters will know about- I decided to find out if there were more strange people like myself in the world- who crave for strange things like Raw rice…..
To my utter disbelief, I found that Yes! I do have strange companions, but also that their are absolute nutters who have eating disorders which are more than just raw rice, and here I was kicking myself for eating raw rice- something that in essence is edible…. I mean you guys are nutters!! (*rolls eye*)
I asked the question on Instagram and I got responses such as: ‘Sponges, Tissues, Plaster, Stones, Chalks, Super glue, Foam,‘ … uhhh are you guys for real? ….. I just eat raw rice- I feel kind of normal now…. kinda….. Just a little….. (*rolls eye twice this time*)
I started my raw rice eating stage at 17, I did not really know or understand much by it, just that one day whilst Mama Bear was training me to be the dutiful wife (Yes. I lived through that decade! seems like years ago- oh I forget I AM old ) by teaching me how to make rice, I licked my fingers and I probably got a few strains of rice and the flavoured rice water…..I was supposed to spit it out but instead I was transported to heaven…..
Seriously guys- it was a shock to my taste buds that raw rice was actually nice. I cant really describe the taste- I still can’t describe the taste all these years on, but I know I WANT it!!
From then on I use to just eat it when I made rice when Mama Bear wasn’t in the kitchen watching over me….. When it became an addiction I really don’t know but its been a very long time.
After my second son- I was getting obsessed over it, I needed a couple of handfuls a day. The smell of raw rice use to intoxicate me, and I just Had to have it. If I was out and had a craving- I use to get moody over it, I use to ruin my day and everyone else’s so that I could get home and just take a huge handful…. I was so obsessive over it I knew I had a problem- who could I talk to? How could I admit I had a problem? How do you tell someone you crave Raw rice?- seriously I think I would have found telling everyone I smoke easier…… I do not smoke but at least it would be something you can admit to more easily, and is more or less acceptable.
That’s when I decided to go onto ‘good old Google‘ and I found out that their are more ‘raw rice eating buddies out there in the big bad world‘….. but like me, everyone just wanted to stay behind a computer screen and talk, and it was not something that you would publicly admit to……
….so not only are there more people in the world who eat Raw rice or other unusual and strange things – their is actually a name for this strange eating behaviour. Its called PICA.
Lets Talk Pica……
Pica is a psychological disorder characterised by an appetite for substances that are largely non-nutritive, such as Ice, hair, Paper, drywall or paint, soil, raw rice….
In reality I am not a weirdo (as my boys call me)…. I am just ill, Psychologically ill! (I do not really know how I feel about this) In one way I feel almost normal because I am not the only one who ‘suffers‘ from this. but in another way… I did not realise I had a problem ( is that not what all addicts say?. Ouch. Yup I have a problem…) I have a eating disorder…..
So what to do with this?
Well firstly you got to admit you have a problem and then you need to tell your doctor about it. I remember telling my doctor and I was so embarrassed but honestly now raw rice really does not sound so bad- I could have been saying mud/soil/hair….(oh yuck Guys) HeHe. Just joking guys. We are all a bunch a crazies, raw rice included.
There is no real test for Pica, Your doctor will diagnose you according to your history and several other questions and answers. If it is a cause for concern blood tests will be offered. The blood test will allow the doctor to understand whether you have any underlying nutrient deficiency like iron or zinc.
There’s no single cause of Pica. In some cases, a deficiency in iron, zinc, or another nutrient may be associated with Pica. For example anaemia, usually from iron deficiency
For myself it would be Iron, so the solution would be to have more iron filled foods- and that should stop the craving’s….Now that sounds easy right? Yup Of Course it does- if you eat iron rich foods….. Me. Not so much.
However It is not actually clear whether it is the low iron that makes you crave for these non-nutrient foods, or whether eating the raw rice in the first place causes Anaemia- so that’s a big problem in itself.
Blood test’s will determine what is lacking in your body, and then it is a matter of eating the right foods full of those nutrients. So in essence a change in diet should carve those cravings away….. However….
Pica is also seen by some as a Psychological Issue and may not be related to loss of nutrients in the body. Being suggested it is a mental illness ‘Aversion Therapy’ seems to be the suggestion to help fight it. ‘Aversion Therapy’ is used to try and divert the attention away from the rice. This is something I have been looking into- but I am finding it so hard.
When I want raw rice- I just WANT it. I cannot stop. At all- even if I delay the process- it gets worse for me, it can contribute to my mood swings and sometimes I hallucinate over it. Yes it sounds awful right?….. Imagine I go through this…. for raw rice!
It sounds so incredulous- I’m actually feeling silly writing it all down. (Please don’t judge me. I am the same person. and when you next invite me over for dinner- do not cook the rice. hehe)
Lets Look at ‘Aversion Therapy’
‘Aversion Therapy’ is a behavioural process involving trying to avert your feelings to something else.
For myself when I think of raw rice- I will try to keep myself busy for longer periods so that I do not go into kitchen and pop in a mouthful, or I eat something else of a similar texture so that hopefully the feeling goes away. (Crunchy nut cornflakes helps- yet I doubt that’s good for me either)
Their are load’s of side effects involved with eating raw rice, and I am sure there are loads of side effects involved in anything non- nutritional and some things non-edible.
I will go through the negative effects of consuming raw rice:
- You can get food poisoning (raw rice contains bacteria- also found in soil, this bacteria only goes away when rice is cooked)
- Digestive problems (I do not need to explain this one. Self explanatory)
- Tooth damage (I will not be showing you my teeth, but you can read about my tooth journey here)
- Stomach Cramps (raw rice once in the stomach mixed with liquids will enlarge as it does when we cook it, therefore stomach cramps are really painful)
- Hair loss (my hair falls out in chucks!)
(And knowing this and struggling with all these side effects I still choose to consume it. I Definately think its more of a psychological issue for me- i just need to pinpoint what exactly it is)
Self help Tips
Well this is an easy one. DO NOT DO IT!!
Ok ….. so realistically their are various different methods in trying to stop eating raw rice or any other bad eating habits you may have picked up…. one of them is the ‘Rubber Band Trick’: Wear a decent and strong rubber band on your wrist and when ever you have a urge or a thought about eating raw rice pull the rubber and leave it , the pain caused will be less but effective enough to stop the habit. Apparently within 2 weeks you will see a benefit (I have not tried this)
Some say that you are not actually addicted to the rice- however you are addicted to chewing substances with that form of texture- so try to replace the rice with something else. Maybe a chewing gum. It may help to avert attention away as you are chewing something else. (I have been eating crunchy nut cornflakes instead. It does not give me the same satisfaction but does allow a bit more time before I crave again.)
Acclimatization– Get rid of the rice completely from the house. Give it 2-3 weeks and the craving will completely go… or will be replaced by something else (hopefully not as bad as raw rice).
Reduce the amount of intake daily… hopefully to get to a stop.
Do you have any non-nutritional cravings? Have you tried any of these tips?
Let me know your thoughts. Would love to discuss this.
Love and Regards