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8 causes of food cravings

A human body is like a computer. It knows when to go to sleep, when to wake up, and when to go to the bathroom. It maintains a temperature of 98.6F/37C, repairs itself when wounded, and breaks down food into usable energy and nutrients. Your heart never misses a beat and your lungs never miss a breath. Your body is constantly processing information and monitoring your environment and surroundings to make necessary internal adjustments to help keep you balanced. Incredible, right?

Many people view food cravings as weakness, but often, they're important messages from your body to guide you in maintaining balance. Remember, the body always wants to be in harmony. It innately, wants to be healed and whole.

When you experience a craving, deconstruct it. Ask yourself, "what is my body trying to tell me?"

Read on to learn about eight causes of most common food cravings.

  1. Lack of Primary Food 1

Being dissatisfied with a relationship, lack or too much physical activity, being bored, stressed, or uninspired by a job, or lack of spiritual practice can all cause food cravings. Many people try to cope with uncomfortable emotions or difficult situations by seeking balance through food. Food can provide a form of temporary relief, or even an escape, when you're under stress. Be aware if this way of emotional eating is being used as a strategy to fulfill areas of primary food (relationships, career, physical activity and spirituality) that you aren't satisfied.

2. Dehydration 2

Staying hydrated is a great way to help reduce extreme cravings and may ultimately help regulate the amount eaten to match needs more closely. A glass of water before eating has actually been shown to reduce the amount of food consumed during a meal.

Another factor to consider is that your hydration status affects your body’s electrolyte balance. When you sweat and lose water, you also lose electrolytes, like sodium. This may lead you to seek out sodium-rich foods following an intense workout (like marinated olives, pickles, etc.).

3. Yin - Yang Imbalance

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, certain foods are more yin (cooling), while others are more yang (warming). Within this theory, foods that are too yin or too yang may lead you to crave the opposite in an attempt to maintain balance. This theory suggests eating foods that are more neutral (like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and beans) and avoiding extremes on either end that may lead to cravings. For example, eating a diet rich in sugar (yin) may cause a craving for meat (yang), and eating too many raw foods (yin) may cause cravings for heavily cooked foods (yang).

4. Childhood Foods

Cravings often come from foods you’ve recently eaten or foods from your childhood. Recently eaten foods tend to be fresh in your mind, so you’re more likely to crave that food in an attempt to re-create a positive eating experience. Similarly, when you crave foods from your childhood, you may really be seeking the feeling of comfort those foods may have provided when you were younger.

5. Seasonal

The body often craves foods in accordance with the season. In the spring, people crave lighter foods, like salads, greens or citrus fruits. In the summer, people crave cooling foods, like raw foods and hydrating foods like melons. In the fall, people tend to crave grounding foods, like squash, onions, and potatoes, and many crave heat-producing foods, like warming nourishing stews in the winter. Cravings can also be associated with seasonal holidays. For example, Holiday cookies.

6. Lack of Essential Nutrients

If the body has inadequate nutrients, it might produce odd cravings. An extreme example of this is a disorder called pica, which leads to extreme cravings of nonfood items, like clay. This condition may arise due to a chronic iron deficiency. If you notice a sudden onset of lethargy or brain fog, it may be a sign that you're lacking certain essential nutrients.

7. Hormonal 3 4

When women experience menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause, fluctuating hormone levels may cause unique cravings. Stress has also been shown to alter hormones in order to promote cravings.

8. Big Change

Any big change that you make, dietary or otherwise, isn’t going to happen overnight. Sometimes, you may revert to old habits because they are familiar or you’re not totally ready to let go of them. If this happens, remember to be patient with yourself – take a step back and recognize that even if your diet got off track briefly, you don’t have to throw in the towel! In fact, this is often just a part of the process of changing your diet.

GET SUPPORT and nix food cravings for good

Learn how to navigate cravings with mindfulness, without judgment. Use curiosity to reach a place of empowerment and develop a healthy relationship with food that's nourishing and supportive of your wellbeing. Schedule an initial complimentary consultation with me today to learn more! Let’s talk!


I received my training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition where I learned about more than one hundred dietary theories and studied a variety of practical lifestyle coaching methods. Drawing on this knowledge, I will help you create a completely personalized “roadmap to health” that suits your unique body, lifestyle,

Learn more about my training and my unique approach to health coaching. If you experience food cravings and would like support navigating through them, reach out or book a FREE 15min consult with me to learn how working with a personal health and nutrition coach can help you in your wellness journey.


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