Maybe you loved them as a kid, but you can't forget how Sour Patch Kids probably made your mouth pucker the first time you tasted them. You wouldn't purposely bite into a lemon, yet eating Sour Patch Kids candy almost felt like it. Let's face it, though: Sour Patch Kids aren't the best for your health, and your dentist probably won't like you eating the candy. After all, the first three ingredients are sugar, invert sugar, and corn syrup.
Yet the health benefits of Sour Patch Kids come from the citric and tartaric acids that make these candies sour (via Simply Sweet). When you bite into the candy, your taste buds are immediately overwhelmed. Therapist Micheline Maalouf said in a TikTok for Better Help that sour candies such as Sour Patch Kids can help you deal with a panic attack. "Sourness acts as a distraction and a shock to your body," she said.
If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.
How distraction works to help with panic attacks and anxiety
According to Insider, a panic attack gets worse if you try to stop it. Using a taste distraction such as a Sour Patch Kids candy shocks and shifts your awareness to your senses. Sour candy takes your attention away from the symptoms of a panic attack. This distraction technique isn't just confined to your sense of taste. Maalouf said in another TikTok that holding ice cubes or rolling on a spiked acupressure mat can tune you into your senses. Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman said she holds an ice cube to help with her panic attacks (via Insider).
Although using sour candy to handle panic attacks and anxiety isn't backed up by research, it works similarly to mindfulness practices. According to PopSugar, you focus on how the sour candy feels in your mouth when you're having a panic attack. This technique might be more helpful for people who find formal mindfulness practices and breathing methods ineffective.
Don't rely too much on distractions for panic attacks
Although using distractions such as eating Sour Patch Kids might temporarily ease feelings of anxiety, it might make your anxiety worse in the long run, according to Transformations. That's because believing your anxious thoughts are bad can make you more afraid of them. Actively avoiding the thoughts using distractions keeps you stuck in the habits rather than dealing with your anxiety. It also makes you believe that you can't handle your distressing thoughts (via PopSugar). This can get you stuck in an anxiety-distraction loop, according to the Harvard Business Review.
Instead, you can address what might be triggering your anxiety and find more effective ways to work with it. NHS Inform says to avoid distractions and sit with the panic attack, knowing that it will subside. Once the panic attack begins to fade, focus on what's around you. Breathing exercises and cognitive behavioral therapy can also help you manage anxiety or panic attacks.