Eating Ice: Harmless Habit or Unhealthy Obsession?

Some people wake up and grab a cup of coffee in the morning as their get-up-and-go. For the more health conscious, their wake-up beverage could be green tea, lemon water, or simply a glass of purified water. 

Some people swear by eating an apple instead of having something liquid. However, others have a somewhat stranger habit: their morning ritual involves chomping down on ice cubes.

Whether this sounds strange to you, or you know someone who’s into chewing ice, it’s quite a common craving!

Is it all about enjoying the satisfaction of the ice crunching? Because let’s face it – it’s probably healthier than crunching on potato chips! Or could it be to stave off thirst or hunger because they’re on a diet? 

There are a variety of reasons why some people crave and consume ice. Let’s explore some of them!

Why Do I Crave Ice?

When somebody not just enjoys occasionally snacking on ice, but instead has a compulsion to eat ice regularly, they could have some underlying health problems or deficiencies. 

Here are some possible reasons behind ice cravings.

You could have pica

Craving ice could be because of a rare eating disorder. It’s called pica, and people with this may also have compulsive cravings for other things like paint, clay, dirt, hair, or chalk.

In comparison to all the things a person with pica may eat, ice seems relatively harmless!

  • Pica could be triggered by stress, nutritional deficiencies, cultural factors, and pregnancy.
  • Sadly, the disorder often goes hand in hand with other issues like depression, anxiety, and learning disabilities.
  • Some people who have pica are on the autism spectrum, and in rare cases, people with pica have schizophrenia. 

You may be anemic

Besides the potential mental health issues associated with this condition, craving ice could also signify underlying physical health concerns.

In fact, one of the top reasons people get pica is iron-deficiency anemia.

If you feel like you simply have to chew ice, anemia may be the problem, but it’s best to have this checked by a doctor before worrying about it! You may need an iron supplement, and your craving will go away as soon as that’s sorted. 

Maybe you’re just stressed or anxious

If you’re reaching for the ice cubes when you’re feeling frustrated or worried, it could mean emotional issues like stress and anxiety bring on your craving.

Chewing or sucking on ice brings relief to some people who use it as a stress relief method. 

So, Is Eating Ice Bad for You? 

Health concerns aside, you may be wondering if eating ice cubes is terrible for you and if it can be safe to eat ice.

Besides the health concerns that could cause ice cravings, chewing ice could cause some problems, such as with your dental health. 

How is chewing ice bad for your teeth? 

It’s important to look after our tooth enamel, because this is what keeps our teeth strong. The more this wears down over time, the more likely you are to cause damage to your teeth and gums. This could lead to cavities and cause sensitivity. 

  • Even though tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, chewing on ice can still wreak havoc on it, especially if you’re crunching on ice often.
  • If you have crowns or fillings, chewing on ice can dislodge them, causing pain and unnecessary expenditure. 
  • Sharp shards of ice could penetrate the gums and cause infections, you could develop jaw ache from the chewing, and you could even chip or break a tooth if you can’t resist eating ice due to pica disorder.

Why Do People Eat Ice if it’s Bad for Them?

Not just people with pica enjoy chewing on ice, and it is not always bad for you. It depends on how you eat the ice and the type of ice you eat.

  • If you’re addicted to ice, but simply allow it to melt in your mouth, it’s actually an excellent way to stay hydrated. 
  • If it’s all about the crunch, and you could cause damage to your teeth, you may want to consider crunching on some carrots instead. They won’t harm your teeth and gums, and pack a nutritious punch!
  • As for the type of ice, it’s always better to consume good quality ice. You could use an Ice Ball Maker to make super clear and pure ice. The process involved in making this type of ice includes boiling the water to rid it of impurities. 

Chewing on Ice Can be Good for You

Despite all the negativity, chewing on ice cubes or shards can be useful for you in many ways. Here are some benefits of this cool habit!

Ice can combat dehydration

Whether you drink water or consume it through chewing ice, you’re helping to stave off dehydration.

Even mild dehydration can have a negative and potentially fatal effect on human health. It can cause sluggishness and a lack of energy, dizziness, and muscle cramps. 

Ice can boost cognitive function

When we chew on ice, it causes an immediate chill, leading to an increase in oxygenated blood flowing to the brain.This can provide a cognitive boost that people who suffer from anemia need.

Bear in mind that people who are not anemic will not reap the benefits of ice when it comes to improving cognitive function.

People on a diet could benefit from ice

Chewing on ice can keep hunger pangs at bay for a little longer.

Ice has no calories, so you can keep melting ice block after ice block in your mouth instead of blocks of chocolate.

This is also a great way to get more water if you prefer melting ice to drinking a glass of water.

Stop smoking with ice cubes

Some people are addicted to ice cubes, but what if it can help you kick another addiction, like smoking?

There are people who swear by curbing cravings for cigarettes with ice cubes. Whenever you feel the urge to smoke, just suck on an ice cube instead.

It is a lot healthier for you, costs just about nothing, and it doesn’t smell horrible!

To Eat Ice, or Not to Eat It?

Although underlying emotional or physical health issues could bring on craving ice, it could also be because of stress, or you could simply be thirsty.

If your health is okay, eating ice is absolutely fine, as long as you’re letting it melt in your mouth. 

However, it’s not good for you if you crunch on it. Making a habit of this can hurt you!

The best idea is for you to figure out why you are craving and chewing ice in the first place, because it could mean you have an underlying health problem. 

If you’re going to eat ice, make sure it’s good quality ice, and try not to chew on it. Look at it as something to cool your pina colada, or as a reliable form of hydration.

Whatever you do, don’t stress about it – just enjoy your ice habit safely!