Cravings are such interesting and varying things and often seem really difficult to understand ‘why’ we are experiencing them. If we are able to stop and reflect we are able to give ourselves space to tap into what the real source of our cravings are.

Our body is really amazing. It knows when to go to sleep, wake up, breathe. It is often our mind that gets in the way of our bodies. Cravings are really important messages there to assist you in maintaining balance. Sometimes we may get frustrated with ourselves when we crave something we think we ‘shouldn’t be, this is a chance to be kind to yourself.

When you experience a craving a way to deconstruct is it to take a close look at the foods, feelings & behaviours in your life that may be the underlying causes of your cravings. Ask yourself, what does my body want and why?

Here are some of the causes that may help you get to your ‘why’, understand it, acknowledge it, learn from it, embrace it and move forward.

The eight primary causes of cravings are:

1. Lack of primary food. Primary food it everything else which ‘feeds’ us in our lives that is not actually food. Being unhappy with a relationship or having an inappropriate exercise routine (too much, too little or the wrong type), being bored, stressed, uninspired by a job, or lacking a greater purpose may all cause emotional eating. Eating can be used as a substitute for entertainment or to fill the void of insufficient primary food.

2. Water. Lack of water can send the message that you are thirsty and on the verge of dehydration. Dehydration can manifest as a mild hunger, so the first thing to do when you get a craving is drink a full glass of water. Excess water can also cause cravings, so be sure that your water intake is well balanced.

3. Yin/yang imbalance. Certain foods have more yin qualities (expansive) while other foods have more yang qualities (contractive). Eating foods that are either extremely yin or extremely yang causes cravings in order to maintain balance. For example, eating a diet too rich in sugar (yin) may cause a craving for meat (yang). Eating too many raw foods (yin) may cause cravings for extremely cooked (dehydrated) foods or vise versa.

4. Inside coming out. Often times, cravings come from foods that we have recently eaten, foods eaten by our ancestors, or foods from our childhood. A clever way to satisfy these cravings is to eat a healthier version of one’s ancestral or childhood foods.

5. Seasons. Often the body craves foods that balance the elements of the season. In the spring, people crave detoxifying foods like leafy greens or citrus foods. In the summer, people crave cooling foods like fruit, raw foods and ice cream, and in the autumn people crave grounding foods like squash, onions and nuts. During winter, many crave hot and heat-producing foods like meat, oil and fat. Cravings can also be associated with traditional celebrations for foods like Hot Cross Buns, Mince Pies or Celebration Chocolates.

6. Lack of nutrients. If the body has inadequate nutrients, it will produce odd cravings. For example, inadequate mineral levels produce salt cravings, and overall inadequate nutrition produces cravings for non-nutritional forms of energy, like caffeine.

7. Hormones. When women experience menstruation, pregnancy or menopause, fluctuating testosterone and estrogen levels may cause unique cravings.

8. De-evolution. When things are going extremely well, sometimes a self-sabotage syndrome happens. Also sometimes know as our upper limit problem! We crave foods that throw us off, thus creating more cravings to balance ourselves. This often happens from low blood-sugar and may result in strong mood swings.

What did you discover about your cravings? Sometimes just taking a step back to acknowledge what and why we are craving gives us space to understand them!