The Dirt on Pica: Is Anemia Causing Weird Cravings?

Ever felt an unexplained appetite for raw rice or flour, mud, clay, or paper? A craving to constantly chew on non-food or non-nutritive substances can be a sign of an eating disorder called pica.  

Anemia, especially iron-deficiency anemia, is one of the known causes for this eating disorder. And while we know anemia can cause a host of symptoms, pica isn’t often usually on our radar.

Pica is simply a symptom that your body is trying to fix the deficiency (although ineffectively!) by making you crave things like mud, metal, or raw rice. You may also crave ice to overcome anemia-associated fatigue, even though it’s not nutritious! 

There are 400 types of anemia. Figuring out which kind you have is vital for the right treatment

How To Cure Your Pica Problem 

You’ll need to get treated for whatever is causing pica. So what should you do next? 

  • Watch for Symptoms. Notice what exactly you crave for and write it down. This could help with diagnosing the deficiency. 
  • Get Tested! Blood tests come next. While there are no known diagnostic tests exclusively for pica, the simplest way to start is with an anemia work-up. Mineral and nutrient deficiency tests may also be needed. 
  • Treat the Anemia. Remember, it’s vital to go to a doctor to correctly diagnose the type of anemia you have. You may need to take supplements or treatment if the anemia is severe. 
  • Eat Better! Alongside treatment, you can also work on eating a more nutritious diet. Ensure you get the minimum recommended quantities of all nutrients, vitamins and minerals included.

I’m fed up off these odd symptoms! Tell me more about anemia.