Sour Patch Kids have always been my favourite movie candy (sorry to those who prefer Raisinets or whatever the kids are eating these days). But they can do more than just taste good while your friends are munching popcorn. Here are three surprising reasons to keep a stash handy.
They may help to halt a panic attack
When you feel a panic attack coming on, it’s easy to get caught in a vicious cycle: you notice what’s happening, you become afraid that it will get worse, it does get worse, and repeat. One often-effective way to break the cycle is to start noticing things that exist in the real world. For example: five things you can see, four you can touch, three you can hear, two you can smell, one you can taste.
Sour candy can help to ground you, by providing an intense sensory experience that you can’t ignore. This hack pops up from time to time on TikTok, and therapists say it can definitely be useful in the moment. Stocking up on candy isn’t a substitute for therapy or better coping strategies, though, so make sure you’re taking care your mental health in other ways, too.
They may help to alleviate muscle cramps
If you get cramps when you exercise, especially in the heat, the standard advice is to hydrate better and to make sure you’re getting plenty of electrolytes — including sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and chloride.
That’s good advice for preventing cramps. But once your calf or quad muscle starts to cramp up, how can you relieve that cramp? Research suggests that something strong-tasting can trigger your nervous system to release the cramp. This effect was first noticed in tests of pickle juice. Runners and cyclists have long used the brine as a cramp remedy, and at first scientists assumed that was because of its electrolyte content. But pickle juice works in seconds, faster than fluids or electrolytes can get into the bloodstream.
One hypothesis is that pickle juice and other strong-tasting foods trigger TRPV1 receptors, and that interferes with our nervous system in a way that causes it to stop telling our muscles to cramp. To be totally clear, the research on this is mixed, but athletes will swear by their favourite TRPV1 triggers, including foods that are spicy, sour, or otherwise strong-tasting. Mustard, hot peppers, vinegar, and ginger have all been suggested as possible cramp cures. I haven’t seen Sour Patch Kids tested specifically, but if you’re looking for something more portable than pickle juice, I’d give sour candy a try.
They provide quick carbs in the gym
Candy is a great source of intra-workout carbs. (See how that sounds more serious and athletic than “snacking on junk food”?) I always pack Sour Patch Kids in my gym bag when I go to a competition. I can eat them even when I’m too nervous for a real meal, and trading candy with other lifters is a great way to make friends.
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