Why Am I Craving Pickles: Top 6 Reasons

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Pickles are strange, and most commonly associated with pregnancy!

However, there are actually a bunch of reasons people crave pickles anytime, but perhaps become more prone during pregnancy.

Pickles:

  • Have pretty much no calories
  • Are canned and last for years
  • Are made from cucumbers

Plus pickles are not sugary like other commonly desired foods such as ice cream.

Why the heck would you crave pickles, or even a whole jar of pickles?!

But interesting fact, it’s not just you who is craving pickles: 

  • Based on U.S. census data, about 245 million Americans will eat pickles. 
  • The market size for pickles is about $12 billion!

Why do so many of us crave pickles?! Here are the top 6 reasons why you are craving pickles:

1 – You Need Salt

salt pickling

Pickles are really salty.

According to a quick google search, one medium pickle has 785 mg of sodium. That’s 32% of your daily salt needs!

While most people get plenty of salt in their diet, it’s possible your pickle cravings are caused by a salt deficiency.

If you suspect a salt deficiency, you may want to try a salt supplement because salt is an important mineral your body needs to function properly.

Do pregnant women crave pickles?

Some pregnant women crave pickles. But as you’ll see, not all pregnant women crave pickles.

For starters, pickles for pregnant women make a lot of sense.

After morning sickness, which often includes vomiting, a pregnant woman could easily be lacking salt.

Vomiting is the number one reason people experience low blood sodium levels.

Therefore, it would be very natural for pregnant women to have cravings for pickles to replace any lost salt.

In addition to salt, women may also become deficient in a variety of other nutrients like iron. Iron deficiencies are common for women, especially if vomiting or heavy bleeding. Having a diverse diet and taking supplementation for women’s health if vitamin deficient is important.

Interestingly, the pickle craving data seems to show a different story:

pregnant woman craving pickles

One study followed 200 pregnant women in Tanzania. In Tanzania, the most commonly reported food cravings for pregnant women were:

  • Meat
  • Mangoes
  • Yogurt

One the other hand, in the U.S., the most common food cravings during pregnancy were:

  • Chocolate
  • Fast food
  • Ice cream
  • And … you guessed it … pickles!

While cravings for pickles during pregnancy does make sense, not all women crave pickles when pregnant.

There are other factors that influence food cravings at play!  Pickles and ice cream are much more common purchases in the U.S. than in Tanzania.

Isn’t it interesting to realize that ice cream and pickle cravings are cultural? Cool stuff indeed!

While deficiencies in iron, vitamins and minerals can contribute to pickle cravings, another significant cause is cultural!

Ideas To Get More Pickles In Your Diet!

  • You can serve pickles as a side dish to add flavor to your dishes such as mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, or coleslaw.
  • Add pickles into your sandwich for some extra taste like on ham sandwiches with lettuce, mayonnaise, mustard and cucumbers or on hot dogs with ketchup and onions
  • Pickle vegetables such as carrots, peppers, mushrooms or zucchini to give them a tangy twist.
  • Pickles can serve as a good appetizer after any meal or snack (e.g., hamburger, fries, hotdog). 
  • Add pickles to your pasta sauce for an extra zing of flavor!
  • You can put pickle slices in between two pieces of bread.

As to what pickles you should buy … any pickles will do!

2 – You’re Dehydrated

symptoms of dehydration

Another reason you crave pickles is that you’re dehydrated. 

Aside from vomiting, the most likely reason you crave pickles is due to dehydration.

(Please note that certain medications also can deplete salt levels, causing you to experience pickle cravings)

Dehydration means your body is lacking water.

When you are dehydrated, your body begins to experience cravings for two things in particular:

  1. Water
  2. Salt

Now we already know that pickles give you lots of salt!

And pickles also give you water and other electrolytes too!

This makes pickles a perfect food source if you are dehydrated, or craving salt for other reasons like vomiting.

No wonder why the market for pickles is worth $12 billion!

Here are some common ways you could become dehydrated (and be craving both salt and water) without even realizing it:

  • Going all day forgetting to drink water
  • Stress making you sweat more
  • Doing errands, shopping or other chores that involve a lot of walking or lifting
  • Exercising hard where you don’t properly rehydrate

Is Pickle Juice Good For You? Science Says Pickles May Reduce Muscles Cramps

Speaking of exercise, the journal of Medicine and Science for Sports published a study about pickle juice.

These scientists knew that athletes had been drinking pickle juice for decades for better muscle recovery.

However, was the benefit of drinking pickle juice just folklore, or was there any scientific evidence to support athletes’  cravings for pickle juice?

The scientists found that pickle juice works better than water at reducing muscle cramps.

This could also be another reason why pregnant women crave pickles too!

jar of pickles

By far and away the reasons you crave pickles are pretty straightforward.

Your body needs more salt and water, and pickles help with both.

However, there are some other reasons like culture behind why you might be craving pickles. 

These reasons are not as important as the first two reasons, but are still worth mentioning:

3 – Need More Acid In Your Stomach

Your body needs some acid in your stomach to digest foods properly.

And pickle juice is known to be highly acidic, like lemons, or vinegar.

However, typically speaking the average American diet is too acidic. 

This means that it’s less likely that you’re craving pickles for acidic reasons.

However, it’s possible that your diet doesn’t contain enough acid, even though that’s not super likely if you live in the United States.

A great idea is to make sure your stomach has all the probiotic, vitamins and other minerals it needs to have a strong, protective gut lining.

Read my ’11 best supplements for stomach health’ review article here.

4 – Help With Digestion

Pickles contain vinegar which can help with digestion. 

For example, there is much gossip about the apple cider vinegar diet.

While many of the effects of the apple cider vinegar diet are exaggerated …

Some studies have shown that vinegar may help with:

  • Hypertension
  • Heartburn
  • Bloating

Please keep in mind that vinegar (or pickles) would only slightly help in these regards.

5 – Need Vitamin A and Vitamin K

Pickles contain high amounts of Vitamin A and Vitamin K.

One pickle contains around 20% of the daily recommended amount of Vitamin K. Vitamin K is good for:

  • Blood clotting
  • Bone density and strength

Pickles also contain about 20% of the daily recommended amount of Vitamin A. Vitamin A is good for:

  • Vision
  • Immune system

If you are deficient in Vitamin A or K, these deficiencies can contribute to pickle cravings too!

Vitamin deficiencies in general can contribute towards food cravings. For example, a vitamin C deficiency can relate to orange juice cravings.

Are pickles good for weight loss?

Here’s one frequently asked question:

Are pickles good for weight loss?

Sure, generally speaking pickles are healthy.

However, are pickles good for weight loss?

I don’t know about that. It would be dangerous of me to say that you can just eat pickles and magically lose weight. 

Pickles can be a part of your diet, yes. However, don’t rely on pickles to lose weight. 

6 – Pickles Have Unique Flavor and Texture

pickles

One final reason you may be craving pickles is because of their unique flavor and texture.

That crunch is pretty unique!

That salty brine is unique too!

Their unique flavor and texture means that pickles are ‘rare’. 

Of course you can get pickles at the store so they aren’t ‘rare’ in that sense …

But they do have a ‘rare’ flavor and texture.

So if you’re bored or just need variety, it’s totally possible that you could crave pickles just for these reasons.

Pickle Craving Iron Deficiency

Do you find yourself suddenly craving pickles out of nowhere? It could be a sign of iron deficiency.

Iron is essential for our bodies to function properly. It helps transport oxygen in the blood and plays a role in cell growth.

Without enough iron, our bodies can’t produce enough hemoglobin, which can lead to anemia.

Symptoms of iron deficiency include fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, and cravings for foods that contain iron.

While it’s possible that your pickle craving is due to iron deficiency, it’s not very likely since pickles only contain 3-6% of your daily iron intake.

If you’re concerned about your iron levels, be sure to talk to your doctor.

Why am I craving dill pickles specifically?

Well, there could be a few reasons. Maybe you’re dehydrated and your body is craving something salty.

Or, if you’re pregnant, you might be low on iron and your body is craving something that will help boost your levels.

Additionally, you might just really like the flavor of dill pickles! Whatever the reason, if you’re specifically craving dill pickles, it’s probably because you prefer their taste to other options.

This same reasoning applies to salt cravings as well!

But of course, there could also be some personal associations at play.

If you grew up eating dill pickles, for example, they might remind you of happy times picnic-ing with your family.

So even if you’re not consciously aware of it, your brain could be longing for those good feelings when you start craving dill pickles.

Why sudden craving for pickles?

When we experience sudden cravings for foods, it’s often because there is an emotional trigger behind the craving.

We might be seeking a distraction from something and the unique flavor of the pickles will get our mind off work.

Or, we might be feeling dissatisfied with our food and pickles will boost the flavor.

In either case, it’s important to think about what triggered the craving in order to identify the emotion behind it.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Pickles?

If you’re wondering about the health benefits of pickles, here are some:

  • Contain lots of water
  • Contain lots of salt and other electrolytes
  • Are green (and green foods are good generally speaking!)
  • Contain vinegar which may help with acidity and digestion
  • Lots of vitamin A and vitamin K

Wondering about other strange cravings? Check out our article about ice cravings.

What does it mean when you crave pickles?

So, what does it mean when you crave pickles? The answer is a little complicated.

It could be that your body needs salt, or that you’re dehydrated and need more stomach acid to digest food properly. But there’s also the possibility that you’re seeking out flavor because your taste buds are bored.

If you find yourself constantly craving pickles (or any other specific food), it might be time to mix things up a bit in your diet.

Try adding some new spices to your meals or explore different cuisines – you may be surprised at how much variety can open up your taste buds!

One idea is to try a food tracking app to track your eating patterns and spot any deficiencies. Don’t pick a calorie counter though!

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About the Author

Hey, I'm Jared and I'm a writer and coach.

I help yo yo dieters stop binge eating and emotional eating through journaling, which works because it's so easy, simple and effective for lasting habit change.


Check out my free Masterclass for my entire journey from yo yo dieting wrestler to Buddhist Monk and finally, to Eating Enlightenment. .

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