How to Stop Eating Soil?

There are thousands of addictions that people deal with on a daily basis. Some of these addictions include excessive alcohol intake, smoking, gambling and illegal substances. One of the less known addictions is soil-eating. This addiction is more prominent in South Africa, where people literally munch down on sand and dirt all day long.

How to stop?

Eating soil usually comes from an iron or zink deficiency.

You can combat this by eating foods rich in iron and zink by increasing your meat intake. If you are a vegan you can alternatively eat more spinach, mushrooms, beans or wholegrain breads.

Some more foods high in Iron and Zink:

  • Beef
  • Turkey
  • Oysters
  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Beans and lentils
  • Dark green leafy vegetables like spinach
  • Cashews
  • Whole-grain breads
  • Potatoes
  • Dark Chocolate

Why do South Africans eat non-food items, such as dirt and sand? Continue reading this article to find the answer and more information on soil-eating addictions.

“Sand rusk”

For cultural and other reasons, the people of South Africa eat what is known as “sand rusk”, also known as umcako. Sand rusks are nothing more than a chunk of soil. Anyone could ask themselves why these people eat dirt. But, the truth of the matter is they enjoy eating it. In fact, many of them simply love eating it.

The locals buy sand rusk from street vendors, which costs roughly R10 each. Sand rusk has been described as having no flavor.

So, why is it that many South Africans cannot stop eating it?

Well, it appears that the texture is what draws people to it. Of course, eating sand rusks is a custom practiced by some people and social groups throughout the world. The practice of eating “soil-like” substrates is known as geophagia (geophagy). This practice has been associated with pica, a disorder that involves the consumption of non-food items.

Health benefits of eating soil, if any?!

There is no scientific evidence to back up the belief that sand rusk offers any type of health benefit. However, this does not stop the people of South Africa from utilizing it to ease their upset stomach and diarrhea. It isn’t clear whether the people actually find relief in eating sand. And, if they do one must question whether the improvement is physical or mental.

For people who cannot access healthy food, sand rusk may be the best alternative because it helps keep hunger pains at bay. So, many of these individuals are not interested in learning how to stop eating soil.


As with just about everything you eat, there are risks of ingesting sand rusk. These risks include obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract and a tear in the stomach lining. There is also risk of eating sand that is contaminated with parasites, animal and human feces and bacteria. Women who eat sand rusk during pregnancy are even at a higher risk.

Eating soil while pregnant

The nutritional needs of pregnant women are higher than the average female. Since the pregnant woman’s body goes through a variety of hormonal and physical changes, it requires more nourishment. Without the extra nourishment, the baby’s health will be in jeopardy, as well as your own health.

Researchers believe that the healthy minerals found in soil is utilized as supplements for pregnant women. These minerals include potassium, magnesium, iron, manganese, copper, calcium, phosphorus and zinc. So, eating soil can help supplement the minerals missing in the diet. The nutritional value of soil varies from one place to another.

South African women also eat soil to ease their morning sickness during pregnancy. However, eating soil with clay can cause constipation, which is caused by an increase in progesterone, a hormone that helps relax smooth muscles in the digestive tract.

17 thoughts on “How to Stop Eating Soil?

  1. I started eating soil when I was pregnant, afterwards I couldn’t stop, I calms me down when I’m stressed and under pressure, I crave it so bad when I try to stop eating it. My greatest problem is that I’m losing weight intensely…….. I need to stop eating it, but the craving is just unbearable.

  2. I have craved soil for over 20 years now because I lose a lot of blood during menstruation. I discovered that taking ferrous sulphate(iron supplements) for several weeks helps a lot and the craving goes away completely. if I go for four or more months without taking the pills the craving comes back all over again.

    1. I have problem with eating soil now n then n a lot of it at the same time I want to stop it but the cravings says no I need help.

  3. I need help i can’t stop eating soil and I can’t eat or drink anything before eating soil and it has become a lot of problem coz I would wake up at the middle of the night just to eat soil.

  4. Your problem is similar to mine I’m 4 months pregnant now I jus like the smell in my mouth so I eat a small piece once a week the cravings increase wen I smell mud after it rained,cn we also take iron or zinc tablets while we pregnant

  5. I started eating soil while I was at school and now its hard for me to stop coz I’m craving for it every time and more especially after eating my food I feel like I can have some soul to feel right. My biggest problem is that my womb now is always painful and i want ways that can help me to stop eating soil and I also want ways that i can use to clean my womb because it is always painful now. I’m trying my all best to forget about the soil but when I miss it I feel like something is not right in my body. Please help me to stop eating this thing because I really don’t like it at all now.

  6. I’m not pregnant and I never was and I keep eating dirt . it started by curiosity so I tried it and ever since then, I can’t stop . and I’m also pretty young .

  7. I started eating soil since I was pregnant but afterwards I couldn’t stop,I need help since am losing weight,is 4 yrs now,what can I do to stop

  8. I want to eat clay every day and I’m worried I want to stop this ,please help I eat iron and zink but I’m still craving this .

  9. How do I stop eating calabash chalk
    I’m still young and am already addicted to it and it worries me a lot but I can’t stop myself
    The craving is too much
    Recently am feeling pains in all my joint areas and I suspect it’s due to the soil I consume everyday and I can’t stop it. I’m eating it still even as am typing this. Please help me please

  10. I need help to quit eating soil because I can’t eat or drink if I have this craving and ,it’s been 15 years now ,I tried to find help at the clinic and they prescribed iron and zinc supplement for 3 months the craving stop but after finishing my 3 months supplement the cravings came back

  11. I started two months back ,iam not pregnant and do not have a child,but i crave soil like no one’s business these days,how and when it started,here goes the story,there was a broken water pipe outside our yard and when the people who fixed the pipe left there was a hip of nice looking soil there,it was a bit hot then,i saw my self just wanting to cool myself ,i picked just a few,that was it,i started craving it,every day now i want to eat it,its not large quantities but it has escalated to half a hand and like many others the sight of it when ever i see it now,more especially the reddish just ignites my inner being to even stop the car and pick and eat.I had stopped a few weeks now but the craving even as iam typing this is high,its unbearable.I hope i have stopped forever,

  12. Hello my mum of age 68yrs has recently started eating of soil, for about three months now. Is it normal? for someone of that age .

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