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December 3, 2020

Pica is a condition in which pregnant women get strange cravings for things that aren’t edible. The word “Pica” is Latin for magpie which is a bird notorious for eating almost anything.

“Don't think you're going CRAZY if it happens to you”. After all, everything comes with a price.

What Causes Pica?

The exact cause is unknown but it could be one of, or the combination of, different conditions/factors like:

  • Deficiencies in iron, calcium, zinc, and other nutrients (like thiamine, niacin, vitamins C and D)
  • Mental or physical illness
  • Malnutrition and hunger due to an eating disorder or poverty.
  • Women who experienced Pica in childhood

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  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea
  • Recurrent infections and/or parasitic infestations
  • Dental injuries

Common Pica Cravings

Some women develop a craving for non-food items, like

  • Clay, limestone, laundry starch, chalk, dirt, burnt matches, stones, charcoal, mothballs, toothpaste, soap, sand, plaster
  • Ice, cornstarch, coffee grounds, baking soda,
  • Newspapers, toilet paper, cigarette ashes, coal, stones, sponges, paint chips, glue, hair, buttons, etc.

In case you have any more to add, which is quite possible, which is also different from the above list, you could add. This is just to say that a pregnant woman with Pica is not uncommon and so is the temporary nuances of Pica!

Must Read: Avoid eating these fruits if you’re pregnant

By the by, there could be some possible risks associated with PICA, you want to be aware of them, here we go…

  • Malnutrition or poisoning of mother and foetus is the most obvious risk.
  • Intestinal infections or parasite infection
  • Intestinal obstruction/bowel perforation
  • Anaemia/Lead poisoning/Premature Birth
  • Liver and Kidney damage
  • Constipation and abdominal problems
  • Dental Injury
  • Interfere absorption of Vitamin, Minerals and nutrients

Craving Non-Foods!!!!

Don’t panic; it happens and is not abnormal. Some experts think it’s our body telling us we need certain nutrients. There could be hormonal and psychological reasons for cravings. If you’re experiencing pica cravings to the point where you NEED to eat or lick the item, try looking for similar food items that you can use instead. Many pica items have very specific textures that you can similarly replicate in real food items. Some examples of food items that may help:

  • Plain flours, powdery foods
  • Gargling or swishing mouthwash or even oil pulling
  • Charcoal powder (use in moderation as it can reduce nutritive absorption)
  • Bread
  • Nuts or ground nuts
  • Dried berries, raisins or dried fruits
  • Ice  - Ice cream or flavoured yoghurt
  • Distraction

To Know More: About Pregnancy Nutrition: Role of Eating Right

Try to eat a balanced diet with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, protein, carbohydrate and plenty of water – don’t think that I am being impractical in suggesting this one, but where it is possible to allow your willpower and discretion to take the upper hand.

Are you one of the blessed candidates going through PICA? – No worries, yield to your craving in moderation and try to eat healthy where and when possible.

Must Read: Eating for Two

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