You’re doing really well, you’ve upped your veg intake, you’ve learnt how to crowd out the stuff that’s not so good and you’re well on your way to learning how to create healthier versions of your favourite foods.

You’re not on another diet or even feeling deprived when seemingly out of nowhere you feel the urge to polish off a family size pizza or two boxes of doughnuts — or both.

By yourself.

Raise your *virtual* hand if you’ve been there, I know I have and it’s overwhelming, confusing and annoying all in equal measures.

The craving comes on fast, sometimes so fast you don’t even know it’s happening by which point the empty box of doughnuts is already in the bin.

So what’s going on and how can you avoid repeat episodes?

Your body is a biocomputer.

It knows when to go to sleep, when to wake up, and when to go to the bathroom, it maintains a temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, repairs itself when wounded and (if you’re female) knows the miracle of pregnancy and childbirth.

Your heart never misses a beat, your lungs never miss a breath, the body is like a super computer, and it never makes mistakes.

Many people view cravings as weaknesses, but really they’re important messages there to guide you you in maintaining balance.

When you experience a craving, deconstruct it and begin to look at the foods, deficits, and behaviours in your life that are the underlying causes of your cravings.

Ask yourself these 8 questions to get the root cause of you’re cravings for good.

1: What does my body want and why?

Have a look at everything that’s not on your plate.

Being dissatisfied with a relationship or having an inappropriate exercise routine (too much, too little, or the wrong kind), being bored, stressed, uninspired by a job, or lacking a spiritual practice can all cause emotional eating. Eating can be used as a substitute for entertainment or to fill the void of primary food.

2: Am I hydrated?

Lack of water can send the message that you’re thirsty and on the verge of dehydration. Dehydration can manifest as hunger, so consider drinking a full glass of water. Excess water can also cause cravings, so be sure that your water intake is well balanced.

3: Are the foods I’m eating balanced?

Certain foods are more yin (expansive) while other foods are more yang (contractive). Eating foods that are either extremely yin or extremely yang causes cravings, because your body naturally tries to maintain balance. For example, eating a diet rich in sugar may cause a craving for meat or eating too many raw foods may cause cravings for heavily-cooked foods and vice versa.

4: Can I eat a healthier version of the food I’m craving?

Cravings sometimes come from foods we’ve 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 your ancestral and childhood foods.

5: Am I eating in accordance to the season?

The body often craves foods in accordance with 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 heat-producing foods like oil and fat, cravings can also be associated with holidays like Christmas.

6: Am I providing my body with all the nutrients it needs?

If the body has inadequate nutrients, it’ll produce odd cravings. For example, inadequate mineral levels trigger salt cravings, and overall inadequate nutrition leads to cravings for temporary sources of energy, like caffeine.

7: Am I hormonal?

When women experience menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause, fluctuating testosterone and oestrogen levels may cause unique cravings that don’t necessarily need to be satisfied with the family sized pizza or two boxes of doughnuts — if you feel that hormones may be to blame here then just be kind to yourself and go back to question 4.

8: Am I having an upper-limit-problem moment?

When things are going extremely well in your life, sometimes self-sabotage happens. We crave foods that throw us off, hence creating more cravings to balance ourselves out.

Want to get healthy for good but don’t know where to start?

For more on health and wellness with a sidekick of adventure travel you can find Emma on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Originally published at on February 5, 2017.