Pica: It’s OK, Eating Playdough is Non-Toxic


If you ever have the urge to chew ice you may have an iron deficiency. If this is the case you’re lucky – other mineral deficiencies create far more bizarre urges.


Mineral deficiencies often create uncontrollable urges to eat dirt, wood, drywall, chalk, styrofoam, clay, and many other materials.


Pica is the adorable name for this condition.



People who experience it cannot explain it. They know how ridiculous it is, but the biological urge is uncontrollable, like a reflex. Biologically this is an adaptive behavior. These flavorless and nutritionally empty objects contain loads of minerals.


We like to think that as humans we are in ultimate control of our actions, but how do you decide what to do for the day, what to eat, or what movies you like? We control our actions, but the desires that compel us to action, the motivations that lead to our actions and behaviors, like and dislikes, are completely unconscious.


One day I may have the urge to go golfing, and I may choose to give in, but where did that urge originate?


We may control thoughts once they’re in our head, but where do they pop up from to begin with? Our actions and behaviors are dependent on whether our brain tells us something will feel good or bad. We control the action itself, but not the underlying desire.


If I choose to buy a new shirt I may choose the action, but I have no control over what led my brain to desire that shirt in the first place.


Likewise, when these mineral deficient individuals reach for a lump of clay to chew on they voluntarily choose that action, but are compelled by an underlying desire that says “You will enjoy this, so do it! Do it now!”.


This is a relatively new field of study, but there is growing consensus that mineral deficiencies are a contributing factor to the development of many behavioral disorders like autism. Toxic substances like lead, cadmium, and mercury can displace mineral distribution and then cause pica, and eventually permanent behavioral disorders.


5 thoughts on “Pica: It’s OK, Eating Playdough is Non-Toxic

    • It fairly common during pregnancy for woman to crave raw rice, as well as other material cravings that are synonymous with symptoms of pica.

      A friend of mine had her doctor ask her throughout her pregnancy if she was having these cravings. Apparently, it is common enough during pregnancy to warrant it.

      The short of it is that it can be, but is not always, a sign of mineral deficiency.

      I take it you have occasional uncooked rice cravings? If so, what is it like?

      I wish I had it just so I could experience that mixture of knowing you want to eat it while simultaneously being like “wait… why am I craving uncooked rice”. Must be intriguing.

      • Ahaha….I think it happens to people who aren’t pregnant too…I’m just 15 🙂 But yeah, I do get these cravings occasionally. I just seem to really like the taste of sand and anything earthy (soil, rice, etc.) It’s like, well, just strangely delicious. I really enjoy eating it even though I know I’m not supposed to, but you just can’t stop yourself, you know? You just want to put it in your mouth. I’ve been known to even just smell the soil or whatever if I can’t eat it. It’s….weird.

        I do have something close to anaemia though. Checked it with the doc.

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