Whether they’re eaten in flavored chips, on a burger or straight out of the jar, we love a juicy pickle. Heck, we’ll even give pickle soft serve and pickle vodka a try. And while we’re never ones to turn down a crunchy spear, sometimes we start craving them real bad. When this super-specific (but so dill-icious) hankering strikes, is it our body’s way of trying to tell us something? Maybe. If you’re anything like us and find yourself craving pickles on the reg, it might be because you’re dehydrated. Allow us to explain.
Pickles are high in sodium (salt is added to the brine in order to preserve them—and make them extra tasty, of course). And sodium is an important electrolyte. These minerals help to keep your body hydrated. So when you’re craving something salty, it could be because your body is in need of a hydration boost.
But that might not be the only thing going on. “Research shows that salt, just like sugar, can be addictive and hit the areas of the brain that put out signals for cravings,” registered dietician Amy Shapiro of Real Nutrition tells us. “And because you can build up a tolerance to salt, the more you eat, the more you want.” This might explain why you find it hard to stop at just one pickle (or why your favorite way to eat them is in a meat-packed Cuban sandwich).
But what if you crave salty foods all the time? “If the cravings become constant, it’s always important to discuss this with your doctor,” registered dietician nutritionist Lee Cotton tells us. “Research indicates that craving salt could be a symptom of a health condition such as adrenal insufficiency or Bartter’s syndrome. It also could be a sign of dehydration or PMS,” she adds. Avoid self-diagnosis and speak with your physician about any changes in appetite or tastes, Lee advises.