28-year-old Vicky Cullen got pregnancy cravings, but the things she craved aren’t your run-of-the-mill pickles and ice cream. Cullen says she started to eat spongy- foam while she was pregnant, and she hasn’t been able to stop since.
Particularly, she nibbles on the foam padding from her own armchair and has eaten an estimated 2,000 cleaning sponges over the last five years since 2011.
She considers it her favorite snack, but the wear and tear is showing on her furniture and could take a serious toll on her health.
She has since been diagnosed with pica. Pica is a type of eating disorder associated with adults who eat non-nutritive substances.
“I’ve only just started revealing the extent of my cravings to friends and family,” Cullen has said.
In the morning, Cullen says she likes to dip pieces of foam in her orange juice. However, she also cuts sponges into small squares and covers them with Nutella, jams, or other favorite spreads—which she then eats as a snack. Sometimes she even dips pieces of foam in wine or champagne.
She has experimented with cooking the foam, putting it in casserole dishes, and mixing it in with sausages and sauces.
Her chair is her favorite type of foam, but she’s also tried the foam from shoulder pads and bras.
Cullen said that her pica diagnosis was actually a relief, because it wasn’t until then that she realized she wasn’t alone.
She hoped that the cravings would stop after her pregnancy, but they never abated—she even makes sure to take a supply with her on vacations, just in case.
It wasn’t until 2013, after she became severely constipated, that she finally spoke to her doctor about her cravings. He has urged her to stop, because the long-term effect of the foam could seriously damage her digestive tract.
Although she has tried quitting before, she only lasts a few days before caving to her need for the foam snacks.
After undergoing therapy for her condition, she learned that she also has some mild forms of OCD, and has established harmful routine patterns to deal with anxiety—patterns she needs to learn how to break.
For now, she continues to give into her cravings.