Why Am I Craving Sour Stuff During Pregnancy? Candy, Sweets, and More

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Sweet and salty…and sour? While cravings for sweets and salty snacks might be the most iconic types of cravings during pregnancy, craving sour foods is just as popular!

Many foods aimed towards pregnant folks and morning sickness happen to be sour, so is there any connection between the two or do sour cravings mean something different entirely?

Unusual cravings set off alarm bells for many women. Luckily, sour cravings are not only common but a perfectly normal part of the pregnancy journey and not a sign of anything alarming. Cravings for sour stuff might even be your body’s way of helping you stave off pregnancy-related nausea!

No matter if you have a hankering for citrus, lemon, or even sour candies and confections, pregnancy cravings can be confusing to navigate. I will break down the science behind the possible causes, as well as what your need to consider when loading up your shopping cart with sour stuff. 

I’m Craving Sour Food When Pregnant: What Does it Mean? 

Less often talked about than other cravings in pregnancy, like chocolate, ice cream, or chips/crisps, it surprises many women when they suddenly develop cravings for sour candies and pucker-producing foods during pregnancy. Rest assured that these types of cravings are also very common and perfectly natural.

freshly squeezed lemon juice in small bowl

Like other common pregnancy cravings, there is no single reason why you have an intense hankering for sour foods. The usual quartet of possible causes (hormone changes, a nutrient deficiency, cultural/social factors, and the body’s desire for a compound in the food) applies to sour stuff as well (source: Frontiers in Psychology).

Many women find that sour foods, such as lemon and other citrus fruits, help to settle their stomachs when morning sickness strikes. Even if you are not currently feeling your stomach turn, your body might be helping you avoid those unpleasant feelings by getting you to take a bite of sour foods before nausea hits. 

We have previously covered lemon, citrus, and their association to cravings in detail. Check out our dedicated articles for more ways these foods can impact your pregnancy.

assorted variety of sour candies

Just like sweet and salty duo foods are often craved together, many women find themselves craving sour and salty in combination. Pickles are the prime example, of course, as they are both salty and sour (from the vinegar in the pickling brine).

When you crave sour foods in combination with salty foods, there are a few more possibilities as to what these food cravings might mean. 

It is a popular hypothesis that craving salty foods while pregnant is your body’s way of retaining water to help you maintain a good internal fluid balance.

Progesterone surges in early pregnancy, which can lead to both higher salt and water losses when you use the restroom (source: Healthier Hawaii). Your craving for salty, sour snacks might actually be more about the salt than the sour tang. 

Craving Sour Sweets and Candy During Pregnancy 

Cravings for sour sweets and tart candies is so common that a lot of ‘preggie pops’ and candies designed for pregnant woman come in sour flavors. Though these candies are certainly not a necessity during healthy pregnancy, many women report that the ‘preggie pops’ do relieve nausea. 

The reason so many of these confections come in sour flavors is actually connected to nausea. The tart flavor of sour foods most often comes from citric acid, the main acid in citrus fruit. Citric acid is thought to decrease nausea by aiding in digesting, thereby soothing the stomach (source: Cleveland Clinic). 

Just like cravings for sour foods, consistent hankerings for sour candies could be your body’s way of helping you prevent nausea in the first place. What better way to dodge feeling sick than to get ahead of them by pre-emptively sucking on a sour candy or tart lozenge.

Many of these ‘preggie pops’ and candies do contain sugar, which can lead to cavities. Continually popping another lozenge to prevent nausea can be worrisome for your dental health due to the consistent exposure to sugars.

Eating sour candies is still a better alternative to vomiting frequently, of course. To help prevent cavities, try swishing your mouth out with water between candies or chewing xylitol-containing gum. 

Are Sour Cravings Caused by a Deficiency? 

Nutritional deficiencies are the number one worry pregnant women have when they start craving sour foods. Most sour foods are high in antioxidants and vitamin C.

While these nutrients are especially important throughout pregnancy to keep your already-lowered immune system strong, it is unlikely that your sour cravings are the result of vitamin C deficiency.  

Vitamin c deficiency, also known as scurvy, is rare in developed countries (source: Nutrients).  Sour foods are also not the only good sources of vitamin C.

Other (non-sour) foods high in vitamins include potatoes, sweet potatoes, and bell peppers, not to mention that most prenatal vitamins already contain sufficient amounts of vitamin C (source: NHS). 

It is more likely that sour cravings are due to nausea, morning sickness, or simply because you like the tart flavor and not due to a nutritional deficiency. 

three different jars of pickled cucumbers

Does Craving Sour Food When Pregnant Mean a Boy or a Girl?

Craving sour food, especially candy, when pregnant is sometimes touted as a way to predict your baby’s gender. As the rumor has it, if you crave sour things while pregnant you are likely to have a baby girl!

Though guessing your baby’s supposed gender is certainly fun, there is no science to back up these rumors. Whether you crave sour, salty, or sweet snacks, you have equal chances of having a baby boy or a baby girl. The best way to predict a baby’s gender is by enlisting the skills of a sonographer. 

No matter whether you prefer the pucker of sour candy or a tart piece of fruit, it is beneficial to know why you are reaching for sour foods and drinks and how they can help you navigate pregnancy nausea-free.