Can You Eat Toilet Paper? (This is What Will Happen to You)

It’s normal to get odd cravings once in a while. And, while eating peanut butter and pickle sandwiches is harmless, eating toilet paper is not. If you’ve had this craving, you’ve probably asked yourself whether it’s safe to eat toilet paper or not. We’re no experts, but we’ve got some solid advice for you!

Ingesting small amounts of toilet paper one time is not harmful, but doing so on a daily basis is not recommended because it can harm you. If these cravings are starting to interfere with your daily life, you should consult your local doctor to determine the root of the problem.

Basically, it’s not a good idea to consume toilet paper if we don’t want to damage our bodies. So, in this article, we’ll discuss exactly what will happen to you if you eat toilet paper (accidentally or as a habit). Keep reading to learn more.

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Here’s a Quick Pro Tip!

Sometimes people feel the need to eat toilet paper because they are lacking in iron. Iron deficiencies are common and can be helped by iron supplements.

You should speak to your doctor if you feel like this is happening to you.

Here are some of our favorite iron supplements from Amazon:

1. MegaFood Blood Builder – A best seller on Amazon that also includes B12 and Folic Acid.
2. Liquid Iron – Suitable for adults and children.
3. Chewable Iron Supplement – Cherry-flavored gummies!

Is it harmful to eat toilet paper?

Although it’s not recommended to eat toilet paper, the hazard it could cause to our bodies is minimum. Let’s discuss what eating toilet paper could mean for your body.

Is Toilet Paper Poisonous?

Toilet paper is not poisonous, although it can become toxic if ingested for long periods because of the chemicals in it. Most toilet paper brands process their paper with chloride, resulting in them having dangerous toxins.

The reason why pulp and paper mills use chlorine bleach is to whiten paper (and toilet paper) because consumers often prefer white toilet paper, despite creating these toxins. 

Toxic chemicals, such as dioxin and furans, can cause reproductive and developmental problems if consumed by humans. 

Is It Harmful to Eat Toilet Paper?

Eating toilet paper isn’t a normal habit, but it does not harm humans directly because it acts like roughage, which helps food and waste pass through your gut. However, eating an excessive amount could make you suffer from an upset stomach.

Toilet paper is designed to dissolve quickly in pipes and sewage systems and can also dissolve in the human body relatively quickly. But, eating toilet paper regularly could be a sign of a different condition, such as iron deficiency or stress.

Is It Okay to Eat Toilet Paper?

Eating toilet paper has no immediate health risks,  but it is still advised not to eat any paper-based products. Toilet paper is bleached with chlorine which has carcinogen agents that have the potential to cause serious illnesses.

If you have an overwhelming craving to eat toilet paper, it could be an underlying condition that needs to be checked out by a doctor. Iron deficiency or an abnormal red blood cell count is sometimes the reason behind these strange cravings.

Is Toilet Paper Toxic?

Toilet paper has the potential to be toxic to humans, as most commercial toilet paper are bleached with chlorine to get that pearly white look. This chlorinated toilet paper contains dioxin and furans, which isn’t good for the human body.

Dioxin is an extremely toxic man-made chemical that can lead to reproductive issues. Additionally, if you use recycled toilet paper, it may also contain a high BPA amount. BPA has been linked to numerous health concerns, including Alzheimer’s, asthma, reproductive issues, etc.

Can You Eat Toilet Paper to Survive?

You can’t eat toilet paper to survive because it lacks nutritional value to human health, and if you choose to depend on it, you’re probably going to survive for two or three weeks only. In critical cases, you might only survive four days.

The worst-case scenario is if you try to survive on toilet paper without consuming water. The human body is composed of 70% water, so having a proper water intake is essential to human health. Water helps regulate temperature and maintains organ functions.

Can You Eat Toilet Paper to Lose Weight?

You should not eat toilet paper to lose weight since it is very unhealthy for your physical and mental health. Eating toilet paper as a way to lose weight could imply that you’re suffering from an eating disorder.

Eating disorders are negative behaviors or thoughts toward food and body weight. Using toilet paper as food would be neglecting your body’s nutritional needs, and hence you would be hurting yourself.

You might also enjoy our post on If Toilet Paper Expires


Now that we’ve discussed how harmful eating toilet paper can be for your body, let’s dig into the details about Xylophagia, and what that means to your overall health.

What Does It Mean if You Eat Toilet Paper?

Eating toilet paper could indicate that you are suffering from pica, an eating disorder that involves eating items that are not seen as food. Pica could manifest in the form of eating soap, wood, hair, ash, or similar items.

More specifically, this could signify a condition called Xylophagia, which drives people to want to consume paper. This disease is related to PICA and is more common in children and pregnant women. 

What Does It Mean When You Crave Toilet Paper?

Craving toilet paper could mean that you suffer from pica, a disorder that gives you an appetite for objects that are not made for human consumption. It could also lead to suffering an eating disorder if you use it to lose weight.

Sometimes, craving toilet paper could imply an iron deficiency caused by the body’s inability to absorb essential nutrients. Some people also resort to eating paper to help them cope with stress.

Why Do People Eat Toilet Paper?

Some people find comfort in chewing toilet paper when they’re in a stress-inducing situation since the sensory stimulation they get from it is relieving. In truth, there are different reasons why someone feels the urge to eat toilet paper.

Other times, people eat toilet paper as an extremely dangerous weight loss regime. This is not recommended at all, as toilet paper has no nutritional value for our bodies. You should contact your doctor if you feel consistent cravings to eat toilet paper.

Why Does My Kid Eat Toilet Paper?

If your kid eats toilet paper, they could have pica, which is defined as a compelling craving for non-food items. Moreover, your child could suffer specifically from Xylophagia, which is a craving for paper products. Although, this is not always the case.

Xylophagia could sometimes be a sign of autism in children. They enjoy the sensory stimulation of eating toilet paper. Although sometimes children simply don’t understand that toilet paper is not food, they think that they are eating food. 

What Is Pica?

According to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), pica is a disorder that involves eating objects that are not made as food or for consumption. Often, these objects contain no real nutritional value.

Examples of pica could include eating paper, dirt, hair, paint, etc. When diagnosed with pica, your doctor will check for anemia, intestinal blockages, or toxic side effects of consuming chlorine (which is in toilet paper).

What Is Xylophagia?

Xylophagia is a specific form of pica that involves consuming paper, wood, tree bark, or pencils. This is generally a rare form of pica, but it has been recognized by medical professionals for centuries.

Xylophagia could reveal an iron deficiency; iron supplements usually resolve these cravings. Consuming a lot of paper products, i.e. toilet paper could lead to blocked intestines, so it could require a colonoscopy. 

You might also enjoy our post on Why Toilet Paper Smells Bad

Does Xylophagia Go Away?

Xylophagia and most forms of pica are temporary and more common in pregnant women and children. Even though it could lead to long-term serious health issues, it can go away after proper treatment. 

This condition is often a sign of iron deficiency, and a doctor can prescribe iron supplements for it. After a few weeks of consuming these supplements, the craving to eat paper/wood should be resolved. Thus, you should consult with your doctor if you or your child have these cravings.

What Are the Signs of Xylophagia?

The most obvious symptom of Xylophagia is an overwhelming craving and persistent desire to eat paper, paper products, or wood. This could lead to abdominal pains, blocked intestines, and other gut-related complications.

It’s important to remember that toddlers explore by putting foreign objects into their mouths. This is normal development and you shouldn’t worry about pica or Xylophagia at a very young age. However, watch your toddler not accidentally swallow these objects while exploring.

What Causes Xylophagia?

The most common cause of Xylophagia is an iron deficiency or anemia, which is usually resolved with iron supplements prescribed or recommended by a doctor. Yet, another common cause of this condition is pregnancy.

You should contact your doctor if you are pregnant and feel like eating paper constantly. In children, Xylophagia could, sometimes, be early signs of autism. However, it could also just be a phase, and your child should grow out of it. 

If you are an adult who is not pregnant and does not have an iron deficiency, it could also be a stress-coping mechanism. People who suffer from Xylophagia state that they get the compulsion to eat paper when they are in a stressful situation.

How Do You Stop Eating Toilet Paper?

You must consult your doctor if you believe that your life has been afflicted by a constant craving and practice of eating toilet paper. Eating toilet paper is often harmless, but the same cannot be said for eating pencils or tree bark.

Eating an excessive amount of paper means that you also ingest a large amount of chlorine, as paper mills use chlorine bleach to make the paper a pearly white color. Chlorine is toxic to humans and should not be ingested in large amounts.

What Happens When You Eat Toilet Paper

Although you now understand the disorder and the signs, you must learn what happens if you eat toilet paper. So, let’s talk about these issues below.

How Long Does It Take to Digest Toilet Paper?

Toilet paper is made to dissolve in our sewage systems, so it dissolves fast in your body. Your body will digest it without much trouble, and the pulp will act as roughage in your gut to help pass food.

Although, this does not mean that it is a good thing to eat toilet paper. It does not offer any nutritional value to humans. Eating large amounts of toilet paper could lead you to suffer from blocked intestines. 

What Happens if You Swallow Toilet Paper?

If you accidentally swallow toilet paper, you first need to watch out for any symptoms that indicate abdominal pain or discomfort during the next 24-48 hours. During that time, drink enough water to help pass the toilet paper through your gut.

It is highly unlikely that a small amount of toilet paper could cause any serious damage to your bowels, but it is still possible. However, the toilet paper will probably pass through your body unnoticed, so there’s no need to worry.

You might also enjoy our post on How Long Should a Roll of Toilet Paper Last

Long-Term Side Effects of Eating Toilet Paper?

The long-term side effects of eating toilet paper, or any other non-edible item, could include nutritional deficiencies, blocked intestines, or even blood infections from all the toxic chemicals ingested.

Eating toilet paper, a form of pica disorder could also harm your mental health—Especially if you are eating toilet paper intending to lose weight, which is not healthy nor sustainable.

Related Questions

What Happens if You Eat Paper With Ink?

Eating paper with ink can be more dangerous than eating paper without ink, although it’s not recommended that you do that either. The ink contains numerous toxins, including lead, that are not meant for human ingestion.

The ink from newspapers has been linked to bladder infections and lung cancers in journalists. Your stomach is also not really made to digest paper, it will be able to digest small amounts but an excessive amount could cause a blockage in your gut.

Does Eating Paper Mean You Have a Vitamin Deficiency? 

Eating paper does not necessarily mean that you have a vitamin deficiency, but in most cases, it has been proven that people with Xylophagia usually have an iron deficiency that can be treated with supplements.

This is especially common in pregnant women with low blood iron levels. You should never try to self-diagnose yourself. If you think you might have Xylophagia or are craving paper constantly, you should contact your doctor for a thorough check-up.

Final Thoughts

Pica is more common than you might think. Roughly 4% of men and women have experienced pica. Although, it is more prevalent in children. Surprisingly, 18.5% of children have experienced pica, and up to 68% of pregnant women have experienced non-food-related cravings.

Hopefully, this article has helped you understand exactly what Xylophagia and pica are and what you should do if you are constantly eating toilet paper.

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