While the rest of the world is awakening to the benefits of eating organic food, 21-year-old Kerry Trebilcock is doing just the opposite. Actually, what she eats isn't even food. The young girl from Cornwall eats (yes, eats) soap and sponges. So far, she's consumed 4,000 washing sponges and over 100 bars of soap. Well, I suppose she at least has super-clean intestines!
It's no laughing matter though, as Kerry is suffering from a condition called Pica, which makes her crave things that have nothing to do with food. People with Pica are known to eat a variety of things ranging from metal to sand, and even chalk, coal, light bulbs and furniture. For a long time, Kerry's diet consisted of sponges dipped in tea or hot chocolate, or spiced up with mustard and BBQ sauce. She would never leave the house without a snack - a small plastic bag of cut up sponges and sauce in a Tupperware.
But Kerry wasn't always like this, she ate normally until the year 2008. It was during a vacation in Morocco that she picked up a hookworm infection of the intestines. Things haven't quite been the same since, and her eating habits steadily worsened. Initially, she would only crave junk food, but soon that wasn't enough to satisfy her craving. Even after a double helping of lasagna and a tub of ice cream, she would still be hungry. One fine day, she happened to take a new sponge out to do the dishes and had an overwhelming desire to eat it. When she gulped it down with the help of some water, her hunger was finally gone.
As satisfied as eating sponges made her feel, Kerry was terrified of what was happening to her. "I knew something was very wrong with me but I didn't want to tell anyone as I felt like a freak," she said. In 2009, she finally mustered up the courage to confide in a friend and see a doctor. It was then that she was diagnosed with Pica, and was told that her digestive system could be seriously damaged. Fortunately, Kerry has some hope of recovery and has been put on a program of counseling and vitamins as well. Now, she's been able to cut back to just one-inch squares of sponge and three teaspoons of organic soap along with each meal. "One day I will beat this and be able to have a shower or do the washing-up without feeling hungry," she says. We sure hope she does.