IIN Check-In 5 | 8 Causes of Cravings

Good morning! How’s the weekend been treating you? I think I’ll head outside for Sunday Runday after I get a chunk of work done, including wrapping up my notes from this week’s IIN material.

Last week, we covered cravings – amongst compulsive eating, caffeine, and adrenal fatigue – and I wanted to chat about this topic with y’all on the blog.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve tried hard to transform my rigid eating habits towards one of eating intuitively. This involves honoring your body’s signals and listening to its cravings.

Many of us view cravings as weaknesses, or our guilty pleasures; but, in reality, they are important messages our body is sending to help maintain balance within. When you experience a craving next, instead of viewing it as a weakness, question what your body wants and why. Foods, defecits, and behaviors in your life are the underlying causes of your cravings.


Personal cravings I am curious about >>

  • Why ice cream cravings?
  • Why iced coffee cravings every morning, all year round?
  • Why salt cravings?

8 Causes of Cravings

Source: Institute for Integrative Nutrition

1 // Lack of Primary Food

Eating can be used to fill the void of primary food (exercise, career, relationships, and spirituality). Being unhappy with a relationship, bored by a job, or participating in an exercise routine that is harmful too much or too little for your body may all cause emotional eating and specific cravings.

2 // Water

Dehydration can manifest as a mild hunger; rather than diving in to your craving, first drink a full glass of water to see if it that message your were getting was one from a lack of water.

3 // Yin-Yang Imbalance

Eating foods that are extremely yin (expansive) or yang (contractive) causes cravings in order to maintain balance. For example, eating a lot of raw food (yin) may cause cravings for cooked (dehydrated/contractive) foods and vice versa.

4 // Inside Coming Out

Sometimes, our cravings stem from foods that we have recently eaten, foods eaten by our ancestors, or foods from our childhood. To satisfy these cravings, try eating a healthier version of Mom’s enchiladas or chocolate chip cookies.

When I visit my hometown, I usually crave sushi as it was a special occasion food from my childhood. 


5 // Seasonal

The body craves foods that balance the elements of the seasons. For example, one might encounter cravings for detoxifying leafy greens and citrus; in the summer, cooling foods like fruit, raw food, and ice cream; in fall, grounding foods including squash, onions, and nuts.It’s common to crave heat-producing foods in winter like meat, oil, and fat; cravings are also associated with holidays.

In the fall and winter, I crave warm breakfast (all the oatmeal) and lots of root vegetables. In the summer months, hot breakfast aren’t as appealing and I’m all about the cold cereal… for dinner! 


6 // Lack of Nutrients

If one is consuming inadequate nutrients, it can cause odd cravings, i.e. salt cravings can indicate deficient mineral levels and non-nutritional cravings for coffee and instant-energy/sugary products may indicate poor nutrition overall.

I often have intense cravings for salt; I’m very curious to figure out what exact message my body is sending me. Am I mineral deficient? 


7 // Hormonal

In particular for women, fluctuating testosterone and estrogen levels may cause cravings during menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause.


8 // De-evolution

Also known as the self-sabotage syndrome, when things are going well, we crave foods that throw us off balance which then causes us to crave foods to balance ourselves; this often occurs with low blood sugar.

Not sure if I completely agree with this one, as I don’t believe I’ve experience it personally — interesting though!

* * *

What are your predominant cravings?

Can you link them to the 8 primary causes?

Are you interested in IIN?

Please reach out to me by email if you have any questions about the program. If you plan to enroll, please ask about the tuition discounts I can offer you — up to $1,000 off!


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  1. Kaitlyn says

    I used to get strong salt cravings and bloodwork showed that I had extremely low sodium. My doctors encouraged me to add salt to some of my foods and get lots of electrolytes post workouts since I really don’t eat much processed food and some sodium is actually necessary (I tended to avoid it at all costs). When I get really salty cravings now, I tend to chalk it up to not getting enough electrolytes post workout. Very interesting!

  2. says

    I always crave cereal and peanut butter. I’m not sure which of these categories that fits into, because I think I eat enough carbs and fats, but that’s definitely my most consistent craving — especially when I’m training hard.

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