We tend to think of them as something negative... Well, they can be.
I must confess:
I give in to many cravings. There was a time when I intensely craved pistachios. Now, it's not something I normally eat or keep at home.
There was a time (recently) when I just had to have Sour Cherries. Nothing else would do.
Or in the past couple of weeks: Savoy Cabbage.
Those are cravings I accommodate. I think those are "real". I'm guessing, I might be lacking some vitamin/mineral/enzyme... and that is the way I get re-balanced. (No science behind this - just my guess).
When it comes to processed food "cravings" - it's much harder to figure out what to do.
It might be a desire to have some salty or sugary snack. It just might be smarter to substitute with a home-made version:
home-made popcorn, Kale chips, muffins, etc.
Calorie-wise there may not be great savings, but I control the amount of salt, sugar or other undesirable item that goes in it...
I've also discovered that sometimes I am looking for snacks simply because I need a break. Eating is always a justifiable break... This was the case when I was having a lot of coffee, an inordinate amount of tea, too. Scheduling breaks might be a better solution.:)