Sampling different cuisines or indulging in favorite dishes, people simply love to eat. For some, it may mean an all out vegetarian fare while some may prefer an occasional rare steak. Then there are some for whom food may mean completely different things, things that the majority of us will consider the last thing to be anything but food. For instance, gnawing and spitting sunflower seeds is what some resort to just to pass their time, while some may prefer glass for this. Then there are those for whom the taste of their own hair is more refreshing and soothing for their nerves than perhaps a piece of candy. For them, this is what signifies their way of life, though certainly not for the majority of the people. For instance the below mentioned eating habits.


Anorexia is all about starving oneself and is something that is often clubbed with some of the most unconventional eating habits, like drinking orange juice that is laced with cotton wool just to have a false sense of being full and satisfied. Nonetheless, anorexia is a serious eating disorder that is responsible for many death each year around the world.


An eating disorder that is also referred to as pica, xylophagia is marked by an urge to consume wood or items derived from wood, like paper, pencils, tree bark and so on. It’s common for young children to exhibit xylophagy, though that should not always be thought of as a psychological issue. Instead, it can be associated with the standard oral fixation of infants.


Trichophagia is a condition characterized by an insatiable urge to consume hair, with it being masticated and swallowed while it’s still attached to the head forming the most common scenario. The hair eventually gets collected in the gastrointestinal tract, resulting in symptoms like indigestion and stomach pain. A common method of treatment followed is to take in purgative so as to facilitate easy removal of the trichobezoar or hairball. Surgery for removal of hair accumulated in the gastrointestinal tract is also an option. There’s even the instance of a surgery that was performed on 24th November 2007 on an 18-year-old teen from Chicago to remove a hairball that had grown to a size of 4.5 kgs. The girl is reported to have been suffering from a psychological condition that prompted her to ingest her own hair.


Also considered as a form of pica, hyalophagia is characterized by a tendency to eat glass. Primarily a pathological disorder, hyalophagia can be extremely dangerous for humans as there’s always the chance of serious internal injury caused by the consumption of glass, like the stomach, the intestines or throat can be ripped open by glass as it passes through them.


Sufferers of this disease tend to consume urine, be it their own or someone else’s. Since urine of a healthy individual is sterile, urophagia is considered to be largely harmless, though a risk, howsoever small it may be, does exist if it is urine form a diseased individual or if there is bacterial infection present in the urethra. Some secondary effects like skin rashes can also not be ruled out in case of individuals who are sensitive to urine.


Geophagy refers to an urge to consume substances that is related to the earth, like clay or chalks, and is often believed to be a method to augment a diet that is deficient in minerals. Closely linked to pica that marks an appetite for non-food substances, geophagy is often associated with several health benefits, something that is yet to be established and is very much a topic of hot debate. While a section of scientists believe it to be only harmful, some believe such an eating habit may have adaptive benefits, particularly since humans and animals alike have been practicing such a thing for thousands of years. It can however be dangerous since like coprophagia, there are every chances of parasite eggs to be passed along with animal feces.


Though it often gets confused with anthropology, anthropophagy is something that’s completely different and is better known as cannibalism. It has been in practice by various groups among humans throughout history, usually as part of rituals linked to tribal warfare. This was popular in Europe and Amazon Basin with Fiji being once referred to as the Cannibal Isles. Some archeologists have interpreted the Chaco Canyon ruins of the Anasazi culture as evidence of ritual cannibalism.


This refers to the practice of consuming oneself, something that is also described as self-cannibalism. It is believed to be a form of pica, which is a disorder characterized by an urge to consume things that otherwise should not be consumed. Some perform self-cannibalism as an extreme form of body modifications, like eating one’s own skin while some engage in consuming their own blood, a practice that is referred to as autovampirism. There has been an instance of a strange case of self-cannibalism registered on 13th January 2007 in which a Danish artist Marco Evaristti invited some of his most intimate friends to a dinner party where the main gastronomical attraction was agnolotti pasta. Topped on it was a meatball prepared by the artist’s own fat, the result of a liposuction operation performed earlier in the year. In yet another instance, Bernd Jürgen Armando wished to engage in self-cannibalism before offering himself for cannibalism to anyone who cared, as reflected in the infamous German trial of his murderer, Armin Meiwes, who had responded to the offer made on Usenet. What Bernd had to say was that he was a male who is obsessed with the thought of being on a dinner table in whichever way his owner would like to be, either broiled, fried or barbequed. He just wishes to be someone’s meal and would like his owner to enjoy his flesh, which is real and up for grab. The offer was made at Usenet on Mar 31 2002, 7:09 pm


This is defined as the consumption of feces and is extremely rare for humans to exhibit such a behavior. It is generally believed to be the outcome of paraphilia known as coprophilia, though it gets diagnosed only in extreme cases where it has been found to be causing disruptions to one’s functioning. Consuming fecal matter of someone else carries with it the risk of contracting disease that generally gets spread through fecal matter. This includes diseases like Hepatitis A, Hepatitis E, pneumonia, and influenza. Vaccines are often the preferred mode of treatment for those who engage in this practice.


This refers to the act of human consuming flesh of a dead human. This may not be common but has been found to be habitual among those who practice it. There’s even a level above this, where the habit relates to consuming partly decomposed human flesh!

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