TRANSCRIPT OF THE CONVERSATION BETWEEN MAX GOLDBERG AND LIANA WERNER-GRAY
Max Goldberg: My conversation today is with Liana Werner Gray, a well-known figure in the health and wellness world. Liana is the author of two number one best selling books on Amazon The Earth Diet and 10 Minute Recipes. While many people may know Liana because of her online presence, I can assure people that they’re going to get to know her in a much deeper way.
As Liana reveals some very personal information that she has never talked about before. This conversation was recorded before her latest book another bestseller Cancer Free with Food was released, which is now available for purchase and is an excellent and very important piece of work.
I think you will be very inspired as I certainly was by this conversation with Liana Werner-Grey and as you will soon see, she is a very strong person who has an amazing outlook on life. Please enjoy.
Max Goldberg: Liana, thanks so much for being here today.
Liana Werner-Gray: Thanks for having me, Max.
MG: We’ve been talking about this for a while, and we finally made it happen. So, Liana, a lot of people out there know you and they see you on social media but I don’t think a lot of people really know your true story, so I’m excited to dig into that today. Can you talk about how this health journey began in Australia?
LWG: I was born and raised in Australia, and I grew up mostly in Alice Springs, which is right in the middle of Australia. At school, half of the kids at school were Aboriginal people and half were white. So, I had a very indigenous, rich upbringing. I learned a lot from the indigenous people, and I think mostly I got that Indigenous spirit from them and that very Charles Darwin spirit that no matter what happens to in life, you know you keep going you’re a survivor. We were taught from age 5 how to survive in the outback — how to survive from nature, how to collect water and food from the trees. So that was installed in my brain at a very young age and then when I was 17, something very traumatic happened.
MG: Before you get into that, what did you learn from that from growing up with all of the Aboriginal people?
LWG: Well, my grandfather died of cancer when I was twelve, and when I saw the Aboriginal people – who are very lean, very healthy and very fit — I just knew right away that because of their diet and that they were eating very closely to nature, that they were much healthier than my grandfather or people who were eating processed foods and junk foods. My grandfather was the one who introduced me to McDonald’s, popcorn, ice cream and all that kind of crazy food. So, I saw the difference.
MG: You knew that at what age?
LWG: That clicked at a very young age, but at age twelve, when my grandfather passed away, is when I was like “wow, you need to eat foods straight from nature. We need to live like an Indigenous person to be very healthy.”
MG: And was it very noticeable what the Aboriginal kids were eating versus what you were eating?
LWG: Yes, they ate very basic whole foods. I would take a whole avocado to school and eat that for lunch versus some of the white kids, who would eat Nutella and all that kind of processed food.
MG: That’s amazing at a very young age to be able to put two and two together about the diet and the impact of the diet, but is that something your grandfather instilled in you? Or, is it something that you realized how he was eating and what caused this to happen to him?
LWG: Well, I watched how he was eating. Then, I watched how the indigenous people were eating and how they were living. And I put two and two together.
MG: That’s pretty amazing at a young age to be able to do that. Okay, so you this is how you grew up and then what happened. You had a traumatic event happen to you.
LWG: Yes, at 17, and I’ve actually never shared this publicly before. No one has asked about it but this is what really started my whole journey into wanting to help people.
I got a text one day from my sister saying that my mother is in the hospital on a life support machine. She’s in a coma and may not survive. It was a very, very shocking text to get, so I called my sister and turns out that my mother was in the hospital because she took a lot of drugs and she was trying to overdose. She didn’t want to be here and tried to take her life.
This was a complete shock to me at 17, and my sisters are younger than me. A shock for them also. But none of us even knew what depression was or could comprehend that someone would want to take their own life, especially our own mother. We just had no idea she was so unhappy. We knew she was going through stuff, had issues and always struggled with some things in life. When you’re a kid, you just never think of suicide unless it happens in your family.
So, the doctors were able to pump her stomach and bring her out of it. And she was very angry and upset that she was still alive. She was like “I didn’t want to be here, so you should have let me go.”
I just remember thinking like “whoa, OK.” It just completely shook my world. I remember thinking “what on earth is depression and why would someone want to take their life?” Because I was so excited about being alive and life, I just could not comprehend that at such a young age.
I thought in my brain I want to go help as many people as possible who have depression and who want to commit suicide. I want to try to understand what it is even though I don’t even know what it looks like. I just want to help people.
MG: When this happened to your mother and she was angry that she was still alive after they rescued her, did you ever think “why does my mother want to leave me?”
LWG: Yeah, I did. And why would she want to leave me and my sister?
MG: How did you deal with that?
LWG: You know, it definitely felt bad. It changed my life from that day on. I went through different emotions, and this is when I started binge eating. Emotions would hit me, like anxiety, and all these feelings that I just didn’t know what they were. I had never felt them before. All I could understand was that this feels really bad. So, to avoid that bad feeling, that’s when I went out and bought candy, lollies, chocolate, junk food, processed food. I ate that and got that sugar high, and felt some relief for a few minutes.
MG: And that’s when that whole very unhealthy binge eating cycle started? Were you a healthy eater before that?
LWG: Yes, very healthy.
MG: This incident happened with your mother and then all of a sudden you started eating differently. How did that affect you on a physical level?
LWG: Well, I knew it was wrong, and I felt guilty because I knew this food was so far removed from nature and what I knew to be healthy. I knew that it was not going to help me achieve a healthy mind-body-spirit. So, I felt really bad. But I feel like I felt like I couldn’t stop it, and it was very impulsive. It was like “oh no, here comes that bad feeling again I need to go and eat a chocolate shake or cookies or I need to go have McDonald’s.” It was very impulsive and happened very quickly. It’s very similar to a drug addict or an alcoholic — that very impulsive feeling. Give me that quick fix relief because I don’t want to feel these bad feelings and emotions. So, I did this for five years — binge eating — and I would eat so much food until I felt really sick and couldn’t push it anymore. Sometimes, it got to the point where my digestive system completely stopped working and I had to take a lot of laxatives. So, the more junk food I ate, the more laxatives I took. It just completely destroyed my digestive system. I was a mess.
And after five years of eating like this, I ended up in a hospital.
MG: How come you ended up in a hospital?
LWG: I was out one day and something just popped in my neck. I thought “that feels really bad and really sore” and thought it was a swollen gland. So, I just went home and started drinking some lemon water with some garlic, eating garlic, and having ginger tea. I knew about natural healing, but it got bigger and bigger and hotter and hotter over the next few weeks.
So, I went and saw a natural doctor, and she sent me to the hospital. She said, “You need to go get that checked out.” So, I had a biopsy at the hospital, which was also traumatic. He had two big, fat needles in my neck and pulled a piece out. They sent it away, and it was a 3.7-centimeter mass tumor in my lymphatic system.
LWG: And very early stages of cancer. So, that was my wakeup call.
MG: This was at 22?
LWG: I was 21.
MG: And did you know that this was caused by your eating and your lifestyle?
LWG: Yeah, I knew right away. I was eating bad food and I was so unhealthy, and it was an accumulation from eating all that food, all of the trauma and being very upset about my mom’s situation.
MG: And so what happened with the tumor?
LWG: I looked at my options, and I could see what would happen if I did surgery. People will cut anything out of your body these days to make some money. So, I said no to all of that because I knew this was my opportunity to heal actually once and for all. And this was the first time I just surrendered to the universe, and I was just like I need to do something different. I needed something bigger than myself to like pull me out of this. Then, the greatest day of my life happened when I just had this light bulb idea. Thank you, Universe! Thank you, God!
I was like “OK, here’s what you’re going to do. You’re going to eat only foods that come straight from the earth for 365 days and do a blog. Call it the Earth Diet and find a way to fulfill all of your cravings for chocolate, peanut butter cups, ice cream, chicken nuggets, burgers and all of that stuff, but in a natural, wholesome way. I was so excited to try that. So, that’s what I did. I started juicing and making a lot of chocolate recipes, and I just started to heal my body with nutrition. After three months of doing that, the tumor had completely dissolved.
MG: In three months, it completely dissolved and the doctors said don’t do that. Get surgery or do chemo, is that what you heard from the doctors?
LWG: You know, they weren’t really aggressive with me because I was very headstrong. I think they could see that I was like “I’m good.” They tried to sell me on a cervical cancer vaccination on my way out. I was like, “You guys are crazy, goodbye.”
Though they didn’t really hassle me, when my mom got breast cancer, later on, they really hassled her and came down on her to get chemo and all of that stuff.
But I was lucky. I didn’t tell many people because I didn’t want a lot of people to try and talk me out of it. I just knew that this is something I had to do — to heal and eat proper food.
MG: So, you have this tumor. You said, “For 365 days, I’m going to eat foods from the earth and start a blog called The Earth Diet.” Were you afraid that this tumor was really big and maybe in the long-term, the diet will work, but you weren’t sure just how quickly it will work? And that it’s a real risk. Did that go through your mind?
LWG: Not really, no. I just had so much faith that it would work. Because I knew I was on a good path, I knew that eating the right foods, juicing and getting all this nutrition was going to replenish my body and restore all the nutrition I had deprived myself. knew that no matter what happened, I was on a good path and in a good place. I didn’t know how long it would take, but I really think about that. Three months. I’m glad it only took three months.
MG: Did you feel better right away, once you switched your diet?
LWG: Right away. As soon as I had the shift in my mindset and was like “Oh, I’m going to do this now.”. Yep. I felt like a whole new person.
MG: You know, you are very strong emotionally. You had these events in your life with your mother, and you said “No, I’m going to go in a certain direction,” even though you started to binge. And then when you got sick personally, you said: “Nope, I’m going to go in this direction and this is going to heal me.” You have incredible conviction. You really listen to your intuition as well.
LWG: Yes. Very, very much.
MG: And I think not everyone can do that. Being able to access their intuition.
LWG: Well, I think it’s a practice that we all need to do more — to trust our intuition and listen to our intuition because it’s right.
MG: How did this listening to yourself — where did this come from and how did it develop?
LWG: I think it came from where I grew up in the Outback and with a very natural, basic upbringing. We didn’t even have McDonald’s until I was twelve years old. It was just a very quiet town, and we didn’t have all this crazy internet and all of this 5G stuff that’s going on in New York City, where you and I both live. So, I felt like was a lot easier. There was a lot less noise happening, so I just always had that strong spirit, that strong intuition. And I just had that belief like no matter what happens to us in life, we have to get up and keep going. And there are days when I don’t feel like doing that, but I do the opposite. I get up, keep going and do what I know has to be done. Like, I know I have to eat good nutrition, I have to juice. I have to take care of some work even though I might be feeling absolutely terrible inside. So, no matter what happens to us, we just gotta keep going. That’s it.
MG: That’s an amazing skill. It’s really a gift that not everyone has. It’s beautiful. And that intuition is what got you to the U.S.? Is that correct?
LWG: So, after I started the blog and after my tumor was gone, I was like “You know what, I need to go to the U.S. and help people there because I know there’s a lot of people suffering there with cancer, obesity, eating disorders and junk food”. And I was like “That’s it, that’s where I’m going to go.”
So, I packed my bags and went to L.A. I had $200 bucks. I didn’t know anyone, but I just knew it would work out and I would meet the right people.
MG: Was there something was there? Was there a specific event in L.A. when you got there? Maybe it was after a day or a week or a month that really was a pivotal moment in changing the course of your time in the U.S.? Did you meet someone or did something happen where things really clicked and fell into place?
LWG: You know, it was just a sequence of events and meeting people, and I just loved it. I loved the lifestyle.
MG: And then you went from L.A. to New York?
LWG: Yes, I found myself in New York and preferred to live in New York more than L.A. And here we are nine years later and came out with a few bucks.
So, I self-published The Earth Diet first and then that was selling well, so it got picked up by Hay House. I got published and now I have a couple of books out with them. My third book out with them is called Cancer Free with Food. And I just really hope that every single person with cancer or who’s suffering with cancer — and not knowing what to eat, how to eat or not knowing how to overcome their addictions to bad foods because so many people have an addiction to bad food — that they all hear about this book, get it in their hands and are able to feel some relief. To feel like it’s possible to heal and just make really delicious, yummy recipes.
MG: You work with a lot of people now one-on-one. What are some of the real mistakes that people are making when it comes to their health? What do you see time and time again?
LWG: Two main things. One is eating processed food and the other one is eating too much food. We are very programmed to eat so much food, it’s too much. It’s too much for our minds, our emotions and our digestive system.
MG: You’ve got this book coming out about cancer and healing through foods. But some people may not have the belief that you have when you had that tumor and they’d say “Yeah, I’m going to eat better but I’m also going to do other treatments as well. What would you say to someone like that?
LWG: I think that’s great. People should use their intuition if they feel like chemo will work for them and eating healthy. Great, if they’re not going to do any conventional methods, only natural and eat healthy. Great, whatever someone believes. I think that played a huge part in the healing when my mom got breast cancer.
I said to her “What do you want to do? What what do you think is going to work for you to heal?” And she said, “You know what. I don’t want to do chemo and radiation. I don’t think I could handle that. But I do want to do surgery, remove both sides and then I’ll eat healthy and change my diet and all that kind of stuff. I feel like that’s what will work.” So that’s what she did. She did surgery, started juicing, quit smoking, drinking less alcohol, and eating really well. She’s breast cancer-free to this day but the doctors hounded her for chemo and radiation. They’re like “It’s going to come back if you don’t do it. It’s going to come back in six months.” They really put fear in her, and she just said I just can’t go through that. And she didn’t. So she really trusted her intuition as well.
MG: Amazing. What are your personal keys to health? These are the habits, the rituals, the things that really keep you on the path of good health? And what could you share with people that they may not know right now?
LWG: Well, two main things. One is every single day I consume chlorophyll. Every single day for the last nine years and I’ll usually have one fresh juice every single day. So, I’ll make it myself or I’ll go to Westerly Market or Juice Press and get a green juice that has lots of vegetables and load the chlorophyll. I just love the science behind chlorophyll and how that goes into our cells and basically pushes out any excess fat cells, toxins and heavy metals — completely pushes them out of our cells and rebuilds our cells and rebuilds our body. Chlorophyll and green juice just give us a new chance at having a new body and health. It’s amazing.
On days I don’t have juice, I’ll just do the green powder in water. Every single day, I will not miss having chlorophyll. So, that’s one and then the other one is chocolate.
So I eat chocolate or cacao powder every single day. And some people may not like chocolate but whatever dessert or whatever sweet thing it is that you crave the most I would say you want to look at replacing that. So, it’s an upgrade or a healthier alternative. It could be cookies. It could be gummy bears, chocolate, cheesecake. Whatever it is, find a way to eat it but in a much healthier way that’s going to give you nutrition. But I just love chocolate so much. My mom said it was one of the first words that I said even though I couldn’t pronounce it properly. But cacao powder has so many studies on how it really helps our intestines and our mind — helps with depression and anxiety. And so a little bit of chocolate every single day for me is a good balance.
MG: So, it’s chlorophyll and chocolate.
LWG: Yeah. Awesome.
MG: So, I want to wrap it up with two questions, Liana. One — what advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
LWG: I would have taught myself about The Earth Diet and how to eat natural foods, eat straight from the earth. And that’s what I do now when I go to schools and teach kids because I want them to know what I wish I knew — about the indigenous way of life of going out to the outback or the bush and just eating foods straight from the trees or the bush. But, I did not know how to integrate that in with our modern world. I didn’t know how to eat like that but also enjoy things like burgers, fries, cupcakes, chips and cookie dough. So, I would have taught myself that. You can have chocolate, cookies and gummy bears for the rest of your life, and health is possible. I thought health was not attainable and just not achievable. I thought you had to starve yourself, and health was painful. So I would have educated myself on The Earth Diet principles.
MG: But you actually found that only a few years later.
LWG: I found it the year after.
MG: But if that’s what you would’ve told yourself at 20?
LWG: Yep, yeah. I wish I would have learned that when I was a kid, which is why I love teaching kids this stuff. Now you know because then they have this knowledge forever and then they hopefully don’t have to hit a rock bottom place. The light bulb goes off with them when you’re teaching these kids like “The Earth Diet is foods from the earth and so they say oh well that makes sense.” Kids get it. Kids get it. They get it right away. They resonate. They’re like “Oh okay.” And you know they know it’s bad. I tell them this is how I ate every day for like five years and what do you think happened to me?
And they all put their hands up and they all have great guesses of what happened. And what do you do? You take a bag of chips and it’s got ingredients that are not from the earth and you show them the ingredients. You could say potato chips wild potatoes are from the earth.
MG: Is that what you do?
LWG: Exactly and I show them. Well, look at the other ingredients that are really toxic and chemicals. And do you know what yellow 5 is like? Where can you go out to the backyard and get yellow 5? And you know they get that, too. They’re like “OK that’s created in a lab versus that was created in nature”
MG: Fantastic. OK, the second question — what does it mean for you to live well?
LWG: For me to live well means that every single day I have this mental attitude of you know what, you just got to wake up and give life your best shot. No matter what happens, you know just keep going. Life is not always easy every single day. I mean it can be very challenging and so many obstacles come up, so many fires come up. So, for me, to have that mental attitude is living well. So, no matter what happens to me – no matter where I am – if I have that mental attitude, I’m good. And just having that balance every day of like ‘you know, we’re all working towards something we want but being present and being here now and just enjoying where I am while also working towards where I want to be and just being happy with that and grateful with that and being humble and feeling complete – not always feeling like I’m chasing something – that’s what it means for me to live well. Not getting caught up in the rat race and thinking that someday my life will be good and someday it’ll be better but just enjoying where I am right now even if I’m still working on challenges or still healing things.
MG: That’s a beautiful answer. Your story is incredibly inspirational and what I’m really taken by is just the amount of strength that you have — that you’ve gone through a lot. And it’s just your persevering and how you talk to yourself every day to just make the best of the day and just your willingness and your strength to persevere and move forward. It’s very inspirational
I don’t think a lot of people know your story about what happened with your mother and about what happened with your tumor. And because I think people see you on social media, I don’t think they really know the story about what happened to you in the past. And it’s very inspirational what you’ve gone through and what you continue to do every day and teach kids and inspire others. So, I am very grateful for you and everything you’re doing. It’s really just amazing.
LWG: Thank you so much, Max
MG: Liana. Before we go, where can people find you on the Internet? — for people who don’t already follow you on social media.
LWG: I’m on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter — all that good stuff. You can just Google – Liana Werner-Gray or The Earth Diet. All of my channels will come up. We’d love to connect.
MG: Fantastic. It’s been a pleasure speaking with you today and thank you so much for sharing your story. And we will certainly be watching for when the book comes out.
LWG: Awesome. Thank you so much.