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Episode # 490   Natalia Levey - How To Master Your Food Cravings

About The Episode:

What would your life look like if your cravings didn’t control you? If you've ever given in to the seductions of junk food like ice cream and potato chips, this fascinating episode of The Inspiration Show is for you. Join my special guest, author, and certified health and nutrition coach, Natalia Levey, as she busts one common myth about food: That all cravings sabotage your health. You'll be blown away when Natalia proves that cravings aren’t the enemy, the real reason your brain creates cravings, and how to make them work for you so you can finally improve your weight and health.

Click here to read the transcription

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Episode # 490 Natalia Levey - How To Master Your Food Cravings

NLed: Hi everyone, my name is Natalie Ledwell and this is The Inspiration Show. Now today on the show, we're going to be talking about cravings; what they are, why do we have them, and how they affect our health. Before we get into that subject today, I just want to remind you that if you are watching the show on YouTube, don't forget to click the link that's below this video after you've watched the show, so that you can take my 30-second quiz to figure out what's blocking you from success. So please help me in introducing my guest today, Natalia Levey. Is that Lee-Vee?


NatL: It’s Levey, drove the chevy to the levy but the levy was dry. That was the best way to remember.


NLed: Natalia Levey. So Natalia, you have a new book out called “Cravings Boss” and, how to… so what is the full title of the book?


NatL: It’s “Cravings Boss: The Real Reason You Crave Food and a 5-step Plan to Take Back Control”.


NLed: Yeah, absolutely, because I love the way that you go in and figure out  why we have these cravings and where they come from. But how did you get to write the book? What's your background?


NatL: My background. Yes, thank you, thank you for the introduction. Like I said, I've been a fan of yours for a long time. It's actually quite an honor to be on your show and be introduced to, so thank you for that. My background, it's sort of split up into three different parts. Part number one is I grew up in Russia, and with my grandmother, I would spend summers in the country, and we would plant all of our fresh fruits and vegetables and go berry picking, and we would do all of our own fermenting vegetables and all that. So that was my beginning. And then when I moved to the United States, which was in 1999, I went to the Culinary School in New York City. So I became a chef. So I learned how to cook great, how to combine flavors together, which was absolutely fascinating, and I then traveled the world and got to learn from amazing chefs like Jacque Papan and Laurent Tourondel, gosh, so many great people I have met throughout my years of traveling and learning. I'm a learning junkie! And then following up my curiosity, about three years ago, my very good friend is a functional medicine doctor, and she got me so curious and so interested in how the food actually affects how we feel. So that led me to becoming a Certified Health Coach and a Nutritionist afterwards. Then I started my own practice, and once I started working with clients, cravings seemed to have been the biggest challenge that they faced. So I wrote a  book about that.


NLed: Well, that is quite the journey. So it sounds like you're a nutritionist, but you know how to make food taste great.


NatL: Oh yes.


NLed: So let's talk about cravings specifically. When you talk about cravings, it’s like people crave chocolate, chips or whatever that is, and it's something they don't have control over. So how did you figure out what is actually causing these cravings in the first place?


NatL: It's been a really interesting journey. I have surveyed hundreds of people. I've surveyed them on what is happening, how are they craving, what are they actually experiencing. I feel like it's very personal and through that and through doing tons of research, and I've actually received training from the Institute for Functional Medicine and read tons of books. The more research that I have done, the more I realized that cravings are very specific to every person. Just like no two people should be on the same diet, the same thing with cravings. Even though we all have similar situations as to when we crave food, but they're pretty individual. And throughout the process, I've actually came up with 15 different causes of cravings that everybody can look through and find. It’s usually either one or a combination of several that cause that specific craving.


NLed: Right. So are you saying that chocolate has the same triggers for



NatL: Not necessarily. The thing with 15 different causes… so with chocolate for example, which is a great example, it’s actually one of the most common cravings. And with chocolate, we have several things going on. Chocolate is a fantastic source of magnesium. So if you are stressed, what happens is the stress burns magnesium in your body. And also when I went to the medical conference in New York City, and I was asking the doctors, what is that one mineral that our bodies are most deficient in? And it turns out to be magnesium. So when we are stressed out, we're losing magnesium. So we naturally start craving chocolate. So we have two reasons: one of them here is nutritional deficiency of the magnesium, which is a very important mineral for stress management and many, many other things. And then you have the stress itself as a factor, and then you may have Valentine's Day, which is a seasonal reason. And so that may come into play. It's an interesting puzzle. I feel like an investigator because it's so interesting to try and figure out which of the causes actually fit that particular situation.


NLed: Yes, so it's kind of mind-blowing to think that there’s 15. When I think of cravings I'm like, nutrition, okay I understand that, and stress, I kind of understand that. Let's talk about some of the others. Like how how many of them are related to mindset?


NatL: To mindset. So we have emotional imbalances. So emotional imbalances could relate to a certain situation that you find yourself in. And a lot of us when we are told - when we go through school and then we go to college and all different

Ways - a lot of us are not taught the skills to cope with emotional upset. Think about it - I mean your mother takes you to the dentist as a child and after you go to the dentist, you're given a lolly so that triggers that craving, that memory. And then every time you go to the dentist, that memory gets triggered and then you want a lolly. So that situation can trigger craving. So that's an emotional one, and then you have the recollection, and then you can have a seasonal craving. So in the winter time, most of us usually crave something really warm and a nice, heavy soup or stew or something. In the summer time, you see ice cream trucks everywhere.


NLed: Exactly! So are all cravings bad?


NatL: I don't think so. I believe, and it's interesting because when I was

working with my TED coach, we were working on the TED talk and you had to

come up with a haiku, so we came up with this: Your body is smart,  cravings aren't the enemy, make them work for you. So sometimes you may be craving something that's not good for you, like chips, or something processed, or a burger, or something like that. But I have been on this health journey for a long time right now and I'm at the point where my body will crave some beautiful juices or vegetables or something like that. So not all cravings are bad.


NLed: Yeah I know and it's funny how we talk about triggers and you know 5

o'clock used to be wine o'clock to me. Not so much anymore but it was like that time triggered it, working day’s over. So do you think that knowledge helps us create healthy cravings?


NatL: Absolutely. I think that knowledge in general is really good and what I really encourage people is to become friends with your body and just start tuning in. You know you can go to school and you can learn all these things about the subject, and then you learn all of these things about how to do a good job, but we spend so little time actually learning our bodies and how they are communicating with us.


NLed: Yeah, we get disembodied sometimes, and sometimes I think we

view our body so utilitarian, like it's just this thing that’s carrying our soul around. And I think that it's important that we do spend time really when you eat something and you feel bloated, think about what the reaction is to the food that you have.


NatL: Oh yes, you're so right.


NLed: So what is the biggest takeaways that you want your readers to have from reading your book?


NatL: Oh the biggest takeaway - so every single person can do this because the plan that I outlined in the book is so easy and it's so much fun. One of the steps that I have actually involved imagination. And it is the simplest book and it's really short and a lot of people are asking me, “Why is your book iso short?” And then I have people come up and actually say thank you for writing something that is so short that I can stick it in my purse. I had somebody go on a cruise and they had the book with them, and she said you know that that actually helped me avoid the buffet line and go through that. And so health doesn't have to be complicated.


NLed: Yeah, I love that. No, I really do. I really love it. So when people buy or purchase the book, they can figure out what is causing their cravings? You take them through a process?


NatL: So the book talks about, I go in depth with the most common cravings which are sugar and salt, and we have that, and then the book actually does take you through the whole 5-step process. And for those people who want to dive in deeper I created an entire online course around it. That's for somebody who really wants to dive in and get a chance to actually work with me one-on-one.


NLed: Yeah, because you know sugar is one of these big things right now. It really is poisonous in our body when we're having too much of it. I think here in the US - I'm obviously not from the US either - but I realized that the corn syrup that they use to sweeten everything is lethal.


NatL: Oh my goodness there's so much actually in the book. I have a whole table with 15 different names of sugar because what happens with the manufacturers is they put “sugar” on something and then people rise up, and then you say well this is bad for you, so they just come up with a different name for something. And it's truly scary and that's why I think that it's so important just like when you go and buy a house and you read all the stats and how many bathrooms in a house, when you go to the store, just read the label, and pay attention to what was on the label. It’s just as important as how many bathrooms in the house!


NLed: You know when I look at similar products, and this is probably a bad example, but let's say fruit loops for example, really when I look at the list of ingredients, I don't look at every ingredient, but when I look at the list of ingredients in Australia, the list probably takes up about that much room, but here in the US it takes about this much room, and this is just the stuff they're telling us about.


NatL: Oh yes and another thing my husband was looking at maple syrup, something as easy as a maple syrup, and and he started to really pay attention, and he’s like, “Why is there anything else other than pure maple syrup?”


NLed: Yeah, yeah I know it's crazy, right? So really taking responsibility for that. So is there a rule of thumb that people can follow with the type of food they should be eating?


NatL: With the type of food that people should be eating - what I recommend is when you look at your biggest meals, which would be lunch and dinner, just think vegetables should be 50% of your plate.


NLed: Absolutely and here in the US I always try to go grass-fed if I can.


NatL: Grass-fed organic as much as possible. When I teach cooking classes that definitely go into the whole safety and sanitation factor and then have fun. Explore your palate. We all feel that we are so stuck with what we eat and the options that we have and I like certain things and that's it. When you really learn to explore your palate and create different flavor combinations it becomes more exciting to eat and cook.


NLed: Yeah, that's it. That's a fantastic tip. I did a Facebook Live video recently, and I was talking about 25 things that you can do or habits you can adopt, one of those habits was to try something different or step outside your comfort zone. But doing that with flavors, with your food I mean, I think that's a fantastic idea. Because we do kind of get into that routine of just having the same things all the time. And if you're

watching this show and you're not happy with your level of health or your weight or anything at the moment, then maybe look at mixing things up a little bit and trying different flavors and herbs and spices and all those kind of things to really make that so much better I think.


NatL: Yeah and that's great because I had a client and she could not eat vegetables for some reason, and then we started working and we went back, we actually figured out why, and then once we removed that block, she was able to enjoy so many more flavors and it was amazing. Because our palate - there are thousands of flavor combinations and sometimes we are afraid to try new things and it's okay, it's okay to try and I love that your suggestion is to try one new thing a week.


NLed: Awesome. So Natalia where can we send people so they can get their hands on the book or if they want to connect with you?


NatL:  If you want to connect with me, you can find me at either which is my main business, or


NLed: Cravings Boss, I love that name. I'm so glad you got that!


NatL: That was be a big surprise. We were pleasantly surprised that that was available.


NLed: Well, that was meant to be, right?


NatL: Most certainly, yes.


NLed: Yeah perfect. Well, Natalia thank you so much for your time today, it's been fantastic chatting to you. And I know that your book is going to be of great service to anyone that purchases it. And so I encourage you guys to click on the banner to the side or underneath if you're watching this on the app, to go through and connect with Natalia because I do believe that sometimes with our cravings, because we feel like we don't have control over them, well now we have the answer. And so I want to thank you so much for your work, you are amazing. Thanks for joining me.


NatL: Thank you so much Natalie and thank you for your time and I love talking to people, so please connect.

NLed: Yeah, perfect. So guys I also encourage you to share this video. Please get the word out about this. You can do that by clicking the Facebook or Twitter share buttons on this page. And don't forget that after the show's finished and you’ve gone to Natalia's website, just click on the link below the video so that we can take you to that 30-second quiz and figure out what's stopping you from success.  So until next time, remember to live large, choose courageously and love without limits. We'll see you soon.

Cravings Boss



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