Alex's Answer

I’m 16 and crave eating things like charcoal and coal graphite etc., is this normal?

Your Question

Why do I get really weird cravings all the time? I am 16 and I crave eating things like charcoal, coal graphite etc…is this normal? 


Hi there, you are very welcome to Ask Alex.  

Thank you for contacting us. We understand that it’s not always easy to share our worries and concerns, but we also know how important it is to talk about how we are feeling. 

You have mentioned that you get unusual cravings on a regular basis, and you have asked if this is normal. Food cravings are very common, but what exactly is a craving? Cravings are characterised by an intense desire to eat a specific food. They are not an urge to eat in general, but a distinct desire for a certain food item. We may also experience cravings for non-food substances, such as dirt, clay, or charcoal, like you have described.  

Many factors play a part in causing cravings, ranging from emotional and psychological to situational. In some cases, where non-food substances are craved, it may relate to a mineral deficiency in the body, for example, iron or zinc deficiencies.  

Eating non-food items such as charcoal or coal graphite can cause pain and an upset stomach, bowel problems, infections, poisoning and intestinal blockages and tears. Therefore, it is important to consult your G.P regarding these cravings, and they can carry out the necessary tests to determine if your body is lacking in certain minerals. They will then be able to advise the best treatment for you going forward, to assist with these cravings.  

Remember that cravings like these are quite common, you are not alone.  And you have the right to get help and support from a professional. We understand that it can be difficult to share our personal worries, but you have done really well in reaching out to Ask Alex today.   

If you are finding it hard to talk to those in your life whom you are close to, you are very welcome to chat with the Childline Team by phone on  1800 66 66 66  or by text on  50101  or through our web chat which you can find here: Childline services are free and confidential, and are available 24 hours, 7 days a week.   

Thank you for reaching out to us. 

Take care, 


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