The condition is called pica, and like a pregnant woman who hungers for unusual food combinations, 25-year-old Jade Sylvester’s cravings cause her to consume toilet paper at a rate of about one toilet paper roll per day.
Jade, who hails from England, says her cravings began during her pregnancy over a year ago and notes the bizarre eating habit began slowly, with just a few nibbles. She insists that taste is not really the reason she enjoys eating the powdery paper..
“Two months into the pregnancy, I started craving toilet roll. I still don’t know why. I like the feeling of the texture in my mouth, rather than the taste. I like the dryness. At first I used to eat a couple of squares at a time, but I keep eating more and more.”
Pica is characterized by an unusually strong craving for inedible substances and is defined as “people eating objects which are not suitable to be consumed and have no nutritional value”. Cases of people craving, and eating, dirt, sand, grass, carpet, and even bath sponges have been recorded. Luckily, eating toilet paper, although not nutritious, is not particularly dangerous. Still, Jade worries about the consequences of indulging her unusual habit.
“I thought the cravings would stop after I gave birth but they haven’t. I can’t quit. I keep coming back for more. It can’t be doing my insides any good.”
Jade, a mother of five, knocks down about eight pieces of toilet paper each time she goes to the bathroom. She keeps one roll in her bathroom for eating and one to be used normally. In her bid to stop being a “potty mouth”, she says she tends to avoid going to the bathroom for as long as possible, especially right before dinner.
Jade prefers store-brand toilet paper rather than expensive name-brand paper (she notes that different brands do taste different) and tries to hide the unusual habit from her kids. Still, she says the young ones have caught on to her unusual habit.
“If my daughter sees me, she says, ‘Spit it out, Mummy, spit it down the toilet.’”
And yes, according to Jade the paper diet does indeed fill her up quite a bit.