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Question
Posted by: Reggy | 2010/09/08

EATING SOIL

I am obsessed with eating soil, I have even discovered a place in town that sells soft soil, it is so addictive, very difficult to stay without it, what are the dangers of this behaviour. It seems like there are many people who have this disorder, since it has became business to others.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageEating Disorders Expert

Hi Reggy,
Although no longer classified within the domain of Eating Disorders in the more recent editions of our psychiatric diagnostic manual (the DSM), Pica, was once classified as an eating disorder, and mostly associated with abnormal eating habits of young children. Pica describes the phenomenon of eating “non-nutritional” substances like soil (which is quite common), or other substances like, for example, paint, charcoal, chalk, crayons or bird excrement. Now, why I mention non-nutritious in inverted commas is because there is actually a rational reason behind the consumption of these substances. You are not eating soil because your middle name is Sandy or you have great aspirations to turn your gut into a garden nursery. The most likely reason is that your body is requiring something of nutritional value that the soil is holding. When young children eat paint, it is often an indication of an iron deficiency, while chalk would likely point to a shortfall of calcium in their diet. The question that needs to be answered is what is in the soil that you have become so obsessed by that your daily diet is missing. I suggest your seek the professional expertise of a registered dietician to look at your dietary habits and see what your soil obsession is trying to compensate for. This would be a good point of departure. If you meet a dead-end here and this has nothing to do with nutrition, you might need to return to someone within my professional arena and explore whether your soil obsession is rooted (excuse the pun) in something psychological. I cannot elaborate within this forum, but therapy might explore the notion of soil symbolizing your need to feel “grounded”. There is much anthropological research that has documented ritual behaviour in various cultures where the consumption of soil is part of a rite of passage and a symbolic means by which to become connected to the earth. Although I am a psychologist and it can be all very exciting following this root (there I go again), I suggest you look at first eliminating the most likely nutritional cause of this difficult problem you are experiencing, after which therapy would be an option to consider. You have obviously done some homework and seen that you are not alone here, and that there are others that are afflicted with this phenomenon. It must be relieving, at least, to know that you are not alone. Are you in danger? Well, although small quantities of soil do not appear to have yet caused you significant physical pain, the long-term effects would likely cause complication to your gastro-intestinal tract. You are likely not following a sensible diet and need to attend to that. You also cannot ignore this problem and fall deeper into what you describe as an addictive behaviour. I hope my response has helped.
Regards,
Graham

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

7
Our users say:
Posted by: tsholo | 2010/12/05

i need advise for a child who ate paint i can''t tell how much he took and yesterday after this incident we called a dr who advised us to give him milk to drink, this morning we noticed that when breath there is a sound he makes even when asleep he never did this before please help i" m desperate, paint colour lime zest 2 mid sheen 70 water based.

Reply to tsholo
Posted by: lebo | 2010/10/12

i have tried all the things to stop eating soil but i cant quit. please help

Reply to lebo
Posted by: Rose | 2010/10/05

I dont want to stop eating it. where can i buy in town? I always havve to wait until i go home to get a " fix" 

Reply to Rose
Posted by: corna | 2010/10/01

I''M ALSO GOT THIS PROBLEM,EVERSINCE I USED ARV''S I''M ALWAYS EAT SOIL

Reply to corna
Posted by: Ann | 2010/09/21

Eat Peanut Butter, it works and will stop the craving. My son used to eat soil as a child and I got this remedi, it worked.

Reply to Ann
Posted by: Reggy | 2010/09/09

Thank you Graham for the detail response.

Reply to Reggy
Posted by: Eating Disorders and Obesity Expert | 2010/09/09

Hi Reggy,
Although no longer classified within the domain of Eating Disorders in the more recent editions of our psychiatric diagnostic manual (the DSM), Pica, was once classified as an eating disorder, and mostly associated with abnormal eating habits of young children. Pica describes the phenomenon of eating “non-nutritional” substances like soil (which is quite common), or other substances like, for example, paint, charcoal, chalk, crayons or bird excrement. Now, why I mention non-nutritious in inverted commas is because there is actually a rational reason behind the consumption of these substances. You are not eating soil because your middle name is Sandy or you have great aspirations to turn your gut into a garden nursery. The most likely reason is that your body is requiring something of nutritional value that the soil is holding. When young children eat paint, it is often an indication of an iron deficiency, while chalk would likely point to a shortfall of calcium in their diet. The question that needs to be answered is what is in the soil that you have become so obsessed by that your daily diet is missing. I suggest your seek the professional expertise of a registered dietician to look at your dietary habits and see what your soil obsession is trying to compensate for. This would be a good point of departure. If you meet a dead-end here and this has nothing to do with nutrition, you might need to return to someone within my professional arena and explore whether your soil obsession is rooted (excuse the pun) in something psychological. I cannot elaborate within this forum, but therapy might explore the notion of soil symbolizing your need to feel “grounded”. There is much anthropological research that has documented ritual behaviour in various cultures where the consumption of soil is part of a rite of passage and a symbolic means by which to become connected to the earth. Although I am a psychologist and it can be all very exciting following this root (there I go again), I suggest you look at first eliminating the most likely nutritional cause of this difficult problem you are experiencing, after which therapy would be an option to consider. You have obviously done some homework and seen that you are not alone here, and that there are others that are afflicted with this phenomenon. It must be relieving, at least, to know that you are not alone. Are you in danger? Well, although small quantities of soil do not appear to have yet caused you significant physical pain, the long-term effects would likely cause complication to your gastro-intestinal tract. You are likely not following a sensible diet and need to attend to that. You also cannot ignore this problem and fall deeper into what you describe as an addictive behaviour. I hope my response has helped.
Regards,
Graham

Reply to Eating Disorders and Obesity Expert

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