Ice has no flavor. It is not sweet, sour, salty, bitter or savory. It’s frozen water. Yet, you see children and adults thoroughly enjoying themselves, whether it is eating ice cubes, shaved ice from freezer walls or freshly fallen snow. What makes eating ice so entertaining? Well, if you search about ice eating or ice chewing on the internet, you will find it is not as innocuous as you may think. A lot of people enjoy eating ice. Some people even go so far as to admit that they are addicted to eating it. Some people even claim that they cannot get through an hour without eating ice and would park themselves at the freezer to binge on it. Whether they chew ice cubes or shaved ice, they simply love it.
Ice chewing or ice eating as a medical condition can be classified as pica. Pica is a medical disorder wherein people consume stuff that isn’t supposed to be edible. People with pica chew or swallow nails, pins, dirt and even excretion. There is a certain name for pica involving ice eating and that is pagophagia. Why do people eat ice? People with pagophagia are said to have an iron deficiency. When doctors treat the patient with iron supplements the patient reportedly doesn’t feel the need to eat ice compulsively. The word compulsive is the key here but it still does not completely explain why ice is the ‘food’ of choice. Some people seem to find it comforting. If you live in a country with a hot climate, it would not be such a puzzle. After all, you would want to cool off, correct? But how do you explain people who order a large softdrink with ice and then ask the server to leave out the soda?
Dentists are not too happy with the practice of eating ice either. They say that if you often eat ice too long, you are likely to damage your teeth. Teeth can chip or have cracks or be rendered brittle by ice eating. Your body gets affected too. When it is always cold inside your body, there are some body processes that slow down. Needless to say, it is not good. There are even some studies that show that certain proteins are affected when the body temperature goes down which eventually results in some things going really wrong with you. It will seem like nothing but eventually the adage that says ‘too much of a good thing is bad for you’ will turn out to be true. Basically, you just need to look out for your health and take time to think when someone asks why do people eat ice?