The New Day meets Vicky Cullen who eats the foam filling from the cushions of her armchair, dipping pieces of it in tea or covering them in chocolate spread.
Vicky Cullen has her own unusual rituals when it comes to snacking. Where most of us nibble on biscuits in front of the telly, the 28-year-old tucks in to soft furnishings.
In particular, she eats the foam filling from the cushions of her armchair, dipping pieces of it in tea or covering them in chocolate spread or jam before popping them in her mouth.
“I’ve only just started revealing the extent of my cravings to friends and family because I’ve made a commitment to help make people more aware of the problem,” says Vicky, a beautician.
“I have eaten most of my big armchair – in the mornings I like to tear off a piece of the foam filling and dip it in orange juice.”
She also has cravings for washing-up sponges, and says she has eaten her way through 2,000 of them, both natural and manufactured, in the last five years.
Vicky’s cravings began in May 2011 when she was pregnant. She has since been diagnosed with pica, a medical disorder characterised by an appetite for substances including metal, clay, coal, sand, dirt, chalk, pens, paper, batteries, spoons, brushes, soap and cigarette ash.
Sometimes linked to obsessive compulsive disorder, it can be triggered by pregnancy or certain infections.
“It started with me when I was pregnant with my daughter Olivia, who’s five now,” says Vicky. “I know lots of women have strange cravings in pregnancy – my friends have told me they craved pickles and honey, tuna and ice-cream.” Vicky, who lives on her own with Olivia in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, was watching television one evening when she picked a hole in the sofa and found herself chewing on a piece of foam she’d pulled from the cushion.
“I can’t stop craving and eating foam and sponge, but I am trying to cut down. When I get the urge, I might do some cleaning or go out for a walk to distract myself.”
Vicky now takes a regular laxative because of ongoing constipation and admits there is very little of her chair left.
“It will be picked bare before very long. I’ve tried to vary things by eating the foam in shoulder pads and bras, but it’s just not as good.”
Vicky hasn’t told all her friends and family about her habit, but those in whom she has confided are supportive.
She thinks it’s unlikely her cravings will ever go away.
“I now have bags of sponge and foam hidden in the car and around the house. There hasn’t been a day since 2011 when I haven’t eaten part of the sofa or some sponge,” she says. “I take a supply on holiday, and enjoy dipping pieces in wine or champagne.”
Vicky has had to cover her chair in blankets to hide the damage she has done and is concerned about her supply of chair foam running out.
“I’m planning to freeze some pieces for the future. The time it takes to defrost them might make me less likely to eat them. Until then I’ll continue to enjoy my chair – with all the toppings,” she says.
Source: New Day News