English 3 MIN READ 123 VIEWS June 14, 2024

Eating Chalk: What Does it Say About Your Health?

Written By HealthKart
Medically Reviewed By Dr. Aarti Nehra

There are many kinds of addictions in this world, and one of them that may often go unnoticed is the unusual desire and behaviour of eating chalk. The idea that something as basic as chalk may have an enticing attraction may seem perplexing, even ridiculous, yet it does happen. Many times, addictions are limited to drugs and alcohol; however, eating chalk may be linked to compulsive behaviour and an underlying medical condition, pica. 

Some people are drawn towards its smell and taste. This article will discuss why people eat chalk and the disadvantages or advantages of eating chalk, if any.

Is Eating Chalk a Serious Addiction?

You will mostly notice children eating a piece of chalk while playing around. However, if it continues, it may turn into an addiction. Moreover, if someone is addicted to eating them every few hours or daily, it can be because of a medical problem known as pica. This situation can lead to digestive issues and other health-related problems if not treated timely.

Why Do People Like to Eat Chalk?

The medical condition pica refers to a person’s desire to eat non-food stuff or ingredients not meant for human consumption. These people like and want to eat raw dirt, starch, chalk, ice, etc. This disease is classified as an eating disorder and is linked to malnutrition, obsessive-compulsive behaviours, and pregnancy.

Many studies suggested that pica patients have low red blood cells and zinc levels in their blood. Although no clarity exists on eating chalk deficiency, it is linked to low iron and zinc levels. Moreover, people with hunger, pain or food insecurities are often drawn to eating them. Although your brain recognises it as a non-food item, nutritional deficiency and hunger pangs consider it a hunger solution.

Besides, people with OCD and anxiety consider its taste and consistency to be something that they feel like chewing. Chalk chewing and eating among younger individuals has increased in recent years because of the ASMR trend.

How to Identify Pica?

Here are some symptoms of pica to know and understand for timely treatment:

  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Behavioural problems
  • Diarrhoea.

Is Eating Chalk Harmful?

Pica can also have complications, and some of them are:

  • Constipation
  • Injuries to teeth
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Infections
  • Diarrhoea
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Intestinal haemorrhage
  • Lead poisoning
  • Severe tooth abrasion
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Tooth loss
  • Choking.

One should know the signs and symptoms to get immediate medical attention and prevent serious health problems.

Pica and Pregnancy

Pica, as we know, is related to eating non-food items, and thus, it can be risky in pregnancy. Pica happens due to the sudden change that women undergo because of pregnancy. These changes may also impact food preferences and appetite. Although pica is not very common, there are side effects of eating chalk in pregnancy, and it can affect the health of the mother and baby.

Treatments Associated with Chalk Eating

It is essential to understand that there are no benefits of eating chalk, and if you have this problem, you must seek medical attention. Your doctor will do a blood test to determine whether your body is experiencing nutrient loss or nutritional insufficiency. Anyone who starts to think of chalk as a food should immediately seek treatment options.

Doctors may even suggest going for X-rays or endoscopic exams. The patient may even be required to visit a psychologist to determine the exact cause of this behaviour. If the doctors feel it to be associated with a mental disorder, they may suggest consulting a neurologist as well. Based on the underlying problem, a treatment plan will be designed.

In most cases, it is because of nutrient deficiency, which can be controlled with a proper and balanced diet. 

How to Prevent Chalk Eating Addiction?

Here are some ways to prevent this addiction:

  • There is no such thing as the best chalk to eat, so even if it’s a one-time occurrence, resist the temptation to indulge.
  • Do not consume it because someone asks you to taste it.  
  • In case you find someone addicted, help them instead of getting addicted yourself.
  • If you are compulsive about eating chalk, discuss it with a nutritionist and add nutrients to your diet.

Conclusion

There are many ways of diagnosing and treating pica, and it generally depends on the cause of it. However, it is essential to remember and understand how dangerous it can be to consume something not meant for human consumption. Hence, it is recommended to seek medical attention as soon as you feel you are becoming addicted to it.

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