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Ice Chewing: How Can It Be A Celiac Symptom?

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Ice Chewing

Celiac symptoms can be quite unusual. Here’s one that I had for several years before finding out I had celiac. Ice Chewing! 

I always thought it was just one of those horrible habits that I just couldn’t break. No matter how hard I tried, I HAD to crunch. 

What kind of ice was the best?—That partially melted ice that remained from a glass of finished ice tea. Crunch, crunch, crunch. And if someone dumped it down the sink in the process of clearing the table after dinner . . . NOoooooo!!!! That was MY ice! I looked forward to that ice. I NEEDED that ice!! There was no denying the fact that I seriously got upset!

The "Habit" That Magically Disappeared

It was odd, though. Once gluten free (not long – maybe a couple months? a few weeks? I honestly cannot remember how long it took) but one day I realized I was no longer needing to chew on ice. 

I was amazed! It was like magic. I had absolutely no need to chew on ice.

I brought this discussion up at local support group meetings and online support groups and found many others who shared similar experiences.  


Pica is when someone experiences a nutritional  deficiency that results in a craving to chew, or eat, non-food items: paper, dirt, and . . . ice! According to this Mayo Clinic article, ice chewing can be a sign of anemia. And according to this article from Beyond Celiac, anemia is common in patients living with un-diagnosed and un-treated celiac. 

So Many Symptoms: One Denominator

I experienced years of symptoms, as I shared in the post, A Lifetime of Undiagnosed Celiac: A Life On Hold.

A correct test (celiac) and a correct treatment (gluten-free diet) could have prevented years of health issues.

Know an ice chewer?  Tell them to get their iron checked.
Know someone who is anemic? Tell them to get tested for celiac.