Cravings: what they are and why you have them

Listen to your body - it's trying to tell you something with those cravings.

Avoid dehydration, like this labourer in Dubai, to reduce food cravings. Lee Hoagland / The National
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Food cravings can undermine our best intentions to stick to healthy eating. When those hunger pangs start, it is hard work to avoid our bodies’ cries for that chocolate bar or those deliciously salty crisps. However, our body has an innate tendency toward well-being. If we listen closely, our body is constantly giving us clues about what to eat and drink and when to rest and sleep for our optimal wellness. If you are craving foods, it is usually indicative of a deficiency of some description. Here are some of the main causes of food cravings:

Lack of food variety and therefore nutrients

If your diet lacks variety, then you will crave stronger, more interesting tastes, usually enhanced by salt or sugar. Also, if you eat only a limited number of foods, you are not getting the full spectrum of nutrition and your body is asking for what is missing.

Lack of minerals will cause salt cravings, while poor nutrition can lead you to desire coffee for energy.


So many of us are dehydrated and we don’t even know it. We forget to drink water throughout the day and often mistake thirst for hunger, resorting to eating food rather than just drinking a glass of water. Water is more important than food and failing to give our body enough can lead to strong cravings.


Eating foods that are really salty, spicy or sugary will make your body crave foods to restore balance. For example, if you eat too many sugary foods, you may start craving meat or salty foods. As your taste buds are also used to such strong flavours, they become less satisfied with more gentle foods and you crave strong tastes and flavours even more.

The season

The time of year also has an affect on the types of food we crave, often to restore some sense of balance. For example, it would be highly unlikely for you to be craving a hot stew and dumplings in the middle of the searing desert summer.


All women unite when it comes to understanding the power of hormones, especially around menstruation, pregnancy and menopause. The fluctuation in hormone levels can cause strong cravings, so it is important to take steps to balance hormones naturally. You can do this with Omega 3 and B vitamins. Either take a good-quality supplement or include foods such as flaxseeds, chia seeds and oily fish, all rich in Omega 3; and lentils, quinoa, oats, fresh fruits and vegetables for B vitamins.

Laura Holland is a well-being consultant and nutritional therapist. For more information, go to www.BeUtifulYou.Com