Deconstructing Cravings

Do you wonder why we have cravings?

Do you wish you knew why you had them so you could avoid them?

Being aware of why cravings happen to begin with is the first step to controlling and bypassing them all together. It helps to look at what your body is telling you it’s missing, or possibly getting too much of.

Here are the 8 primary causes:


Your body doesn’t get the signal that it is thirsty until you’re on the verge of dehydration. If you’re thirsty, you’ve essentially waited too long to drink water. Dehydration occurs as mild hunger, so when you feel a craving, drink water first. (No- sodas, juices, and other non-waters don’t count. Stick with the good stuff.)


Being dissatisfied with a relationship, having an improper exercise routine, being bored, stressed, uninspired, lacking a spiritual practice- all of these contribute to emotional eating. Eating can then act as a substitute for entertainment or to fill the void. Get busy. Talk things over with your partner. Meet a friend. Go for a walk. Make a to-do list, and then get to-doing. Don’t get bored and turn to eating; not only will you sabotage your fitness routine, you’ll feel terrible about it.


Certain foods are more expansive (yin) and others more contractive (yang.) Eating to one extreme or the other causes cravings as the body’s attempt to reestablish balance. For example, a diet rich in sugar (yin) may cause cravings for meat (yang.)

Take the medium road.


Sometimes we crave what we just had (that was such a tasty chocolate cupcake, I think I want another!), foods eaten by our ancestors (“But I was MADE to eat five bowls of pasta!), or foods from our childhoods (mmmmmm… milk and cookies…) Yes, ok, eat what your body likes. But prepare yourself healthier versions of these foods as a clever way to satisfy the craving without completely jumping off the boat. (Speaking of which, I have an excellent quinoa chocolate cupcake recipe I will post soon.)


The body can crave foods that balance out the elements of the season. In spring, people crave detoxifying foods like leafy greens or citrus fruits; in summer, cooling foods like fruit, raw foods, and ice cream; in the fall, grounding foods like squash, onions, and nuts, in winter, hot and heating foods like meat, oils, and fats. And lets not forget cravings associated with the holiday season… (Yes, you are supposed to eat according to the seasons.)


If the body is not getting an adequate amounts of nutrients, it will produce odd cravings in an attempt to satisfy its need for nourishment. THIS is why you will eat a handful of nuts and feel full, but a cheeseburger and fries just doesn’t feel complete and you find yourself ordering that shake. In another example, inadequate mineral levels will produce salt cravings, and an overall inadequate nutrition produces cravings for energy like caffeine. Paying attention to the quality of food you’re eating will help.


Ladies, this one’s for you. When we menstruate, are pregnant, or are going through menopause, fluctuating testosterone and estrogen levels will cause unusual, and sometimes unbearable, cravings. Im going to go ahead and give us a mini free-be pass on this one. Yes there are herbs that will help and foods that will alleviate feeling like a monster during these times. But if they aren’t in your kitchen pantry, and having a glass or two, or ten, of water isn’t helping… go ahead and have a piece of that certain something you feel you need. Just don’t go overboard and punish your body. During these times, we are already going through so much internally, adding the stress of a craving or of resisting a temptation isn’t always worth it. The bloating, gas, and overall yucky feeling of eating junk just because we had a craving isn’t worth it either- so go easy on yourself. We will talk female balancing in another post.


This is an interesting one. When things are going extremely well, sometimes some of us on some level unconsciously call upon a self sabotage mission. We suddenly crave foods that throw us off balance and then have even more cravings to balance ourselves. Like wanting sweets, eating them, then wanting something salty, and then going back to sweets to balance all the salty. Ta-da! Overeating has just happened to you. This can happen a lot  when blood sugar levels are low, and it can even lead to mega mood swings. Before automatically turning to the fridge for answers, take a moment to pay attention to when this may be happening and ask yourself what is really going on.

Self control is not always easy, but if you know why your body is behaving the way it is, controlling cravings becomes much more possible.
And when all else fails, drink water. It really, really works.

Good Luck!