Tue, Oct 08, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Eating disorder can be sign of unchecked stress

By Fang Chi-hsien and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Eating uncooked rice became a health issue for a woman trying to deal with stress, Lin Keng-hsin (林耕新) of Doctor Lin’s Healing Clinic in Kaohsiung said last week, citing a case from February.

A 30-year-old woman came to the clinic seeking psychiatric counsel, saying that since December last year she had been having suicidal thoughts, the doctor said. She said that she felt psychological pressure from caring for elderly people, Lin said.

According to Lin, the smell of uncooked rice became “tempting,” so she would chew it, which she said helped her adjust mentally.

The woman became addicted to raw rice and would consume an entire bag in three days, Lin said. The habit caused indigestion, while her teeth became severely worn from chewing on uncooked rice, Lin said.

The clinic diagnosed her with pica, an eating disorder characterized by an appetite for things that are largely non-nutritive, Lin said.

After several consultations, the woman recalled why eating raw rice was helping her manage stress, Lin said.

She had been close to her grandfather and grew up in a rural area, he said, adding that the woman played in rice paddies as a girl.

“It was her fondest memories of her time with her grandfather,” Lin said, adding that smell of uncooked rice was a link to that time.

Unfortunately, uncooked rice sparked an unhealthy means to restore her mental equilibrium, he said.

The clinic taught the woman several methods to handle stress and she has stopped eating uncooked rice, Lin said.

People should not hesitate to consult a medical expert if they or family members are struggling to handle stress, he added.

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