Eating Cotton Balls is Bad
November 30, 2013

Eating Cotton Balls Is Bad

According to Medline Plus, a bezoar “is a ball of swallowed foreign material (usually hair or fiber) that collects in the stomach and fails to pass through the intestines… Chewing on or eating hair or fuzzy materials (or indigestible materials such as plastic bags) can lead to the formation of a bezoar…Generally bezoars are mostly seen in females aged 10 to 19.” On another webpage, Medline Plus tells that pica “is a pattern of eating non-food materials, such as dirt or paper… Pica is seen more in young children than adults. Between 10 and 32% of children ages 1 – 6 have these behaviors.” It is often due to a nutrient deficiency.

Why gives these two definitions? Well, because an alarming new trend has come to the forefront of news. It is called the cotton ball diet, as ABC News reports, but there is no diet in this whatsoever because a diet implies ingesting nutrients. The “diet” (and I’m using the word loosely here) consists of eating five cotton balls that have soaked in orange juice, lemonade, or a smoothie. Some eat five before a meal to “fill up” so that they eat less while others simply eat cotton balls, and that is all. Clearly, there are little to no nutrients there.

So, obviously, this alleged diet can lead to a bezoar, which, trust me on this, is pretty gross. A quick search on Google images will give an idea just how yucky a bezoar is. Not to mention how painful such a thing must be. Oh, and if a bezoar is not gross enough, eating cotton balls could lead to bigger problems like multiple blockages or full obstruction, which both may lead to death.

Yeah, that is definitely worth avoiding this “diet.”

However, many people are engaging in this “diet” because they wish to lose weight, quick. They do not take into consideration many issues. Obviously, the bezoar, blockages, and obstruction are really bad, but most cotton balls are not made from pure cotton. In fact, the ABC News article explains that synthetic cotton balls are bleached, polyester fibers that contain many chemicals.

So, one who engages in eating soaked cotton balls puts her system into malnutrition, risks bezoars, blockages, and obstruction, but she also gives her system only synthetic chemicals to sustain. None of this is worth “being thin.”

I use the feminine pronouns here because the article notes that the cotton ball diet seems to be catching on with teenage girls as shown by the YouTube videos of some of these young girls. They were ages 9-16, which falls smack into the range for bezoars.

So, why the definition of pica? Well, the co-director of the eating disorders clinical and research program at Massachusetts General Hospital thinks the cotton ball diet is a form of pica, only she does not think teenaged girls are eating soaked cotton balls because they crave some other nutrient. She believes that it is a form of an eating disorder.

Call it a pica, fine, but don’t call eating cotton balls a diet. I do not even think giving this really bad idea the title of trend or fad or crash diet is a good idea. Diet implies eating something that provides nutrients. Eating cotton balls soaked in juice does little of that. Plus, it is really dangerous and can lead to much bigger health issues.

Let me be perfectly clear on this: eating cotton balls is bad. It is not healthy. It is seriously dangerous.

Don’t do it. Lose weight the healthy way by eating right, exercising, and talking to a medical professional. Do not eat cotton balls.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Email


Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

Send Rayshell an email