Emma Thompson, who suffers from an OCD disorder called Pica, said: “Some people go out for a steak, I would rather go out for a sponge”For more than two decades this young woman has enjoyed the texture of sponge.

But even she admits eating up to 20 kitchen sponges a day is becoming something of an issue.

Emma Thompson, 23, loves nothing better than to soak the sponges in apple flavoured washing up liquid before popping them into her mouth and says they are her ‘guilty pleasure’.

She started chewing bath sponges at the age of just three before discovering she liked the taste of kitchen ones better.Emma, who volunteers at the Prince’s Trust, suffers from an OCD disorder called Pica – the persistent eating of substances that have no nutritional value, but is yet to seek help for her condition.

She soaks the sponges over night in apple flavoured Fairy Liquid before enjoying one first thing in the morning.

When Emma got tonsillitis last year doctors told her it had been caused by her bizarre habit, but it has not stopped her from continuing.

She spends £6 a week on sponges, from Wilkinsons and Poundland, and bottles of apple flavoured Fairy to feed her addiction.

Emma, from Wallsend, North Tyneside, said: “I enjoy the taste of it, I enjoy it more than food.

“Some people go out for a steak, I would rather go out for a sponge.

“It’s a guilty pleasure, some people smoke – I eat sponges. It’s not a dirty habit, it’s clean.

“My friends takes the mick out of me, they say, ‘Are we going to have sponge and chips for tea?’

“I chew it and sometimes I swallow it.”I like the smell and taste of the washing up liquid on the sponge. It tastes like apples, it’s quite foamy. My mouth gets full of foam.

“As soon as someone mentions it or I am washing the dishes or see a packet of sponges in the shop I need to have one.

“I am definitely addicted to it. I have tried to quit but I just can’t, there is no cure for it.

“If I see them in the shop and I need one, I buy one and eat it dry until I get home to stop the craving.

“Every time I am running a bath, I go to make a sponge and sit it on the side of the bath.

“I’m in my element when I’m in the bath.”

Emma began eating sponges every day two years ago after trying a kitchen sponge while washing the dishes.

She would sometimes cut up the sponges and take them with her to work in a lunch box.

Depending on her mood and how stressed she is, Emma will eat between two and 20 sponges a day.She runs the sponge under hot water in the sink so the scouring pad comes off before soaking the sponge in washing up liquid.

She said: “I leave it to soak on the bench, I was in a rush this morning so I only ate half one.

“When I seen a new sponge in the shop I would try them but I was always disappointed so now I stick to what I like.

“I won’t use the sponges if someone else has touched them.

“My boyfriend Alex thought I was weird at first but now he buys me them.

“I usually have four a day at the least but I can go through up to 20 if I am stressed.

“If I am really busy I don’t think about it but if I go in the kitchen and
there there I have to have one.

“I don’t like to think about never having a sponge in my flat.”

When she is outside and wants to chew a sponge, she buys a packet of them from a nearby shop and eats them dry to stop her craving.

Emma has not been to see a doctor about her condition but says if it gets worse and starts controlling her life she will consider it.

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