Alcohol and nutrition – two topics with seemingly very little in common. When today’s guest started to improve his health and nutrition, he quickly realized that there wasn’t room for alcohol in his healthy lifestyle. Annie welcomes Harvey, who is now a nutritionist. Harvey shares tons of interesting information with us today, including how, as a child, he lost both of his parents and eventually began to use alcohol to cope with that childhood trauma. But things are totally different today! Harvey is a healthier and happier version of himself. Find out how he healed his relationship with alcohol with the help of This Naked Mind.
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Harvey’s Website – https://www.harveyslater.com/
So, the interesting thing is that I come from a strict, no drinking family. For a part of my childhood, I was raised in the Mormon religion, which is strictly no drinking. Yet, my father’s family was sort of split down the middle with drinking. So, I was exposed to alcohol in a sort of different way in that it was this outside thing that I didn’t have access to as a child. I only had my one alcoholic uncle from San Antonio, Texas, and his wife. Their names were Roger and Winona, but we called them Aunt Winona and Uncle Rara.
The Cool Uncle
Uncle Ra Ra was super cool. He would drive in from Texas to California in his sports car and show off, and he was always just a super cool guy, and he drank. So, I thought, “Okay, well, that’s really rad.” Being pretty close to the Hollywood culture, I always sort of idolized the fact that they made cocktails in episodes of Bewitched, and things like that, growing up. So, I just thought that alcohol use and all that was just this really neat kind of thing that one day, when I became an adult, I would start engaging in.
There’s some genetic predisposition to alcohol abuse in my family. It’s in my genes, for sure. As I got older … My parents died when I was a child. So, that’s when the real trauma started in my life. When I was a young child, I was abruptly taken from my mountain home, and I thought it was interesting that you grew up in a cabin because I grew up in the National Forest in California, also, and I actually live in a cabin now.
Abruptly taken from my childhood home and really had a pretty rough childhood from there on out, starting about age seven. So, when I became old enough to actually have access to alcohol, it was really, for some reason or another, it just became a component of what helped me cope and helped me feel … I just couldn’t wait to become an adult. I felt like I had gotten just an unfair shake in life.
My siblings, I have six siblings, they were all quite a bit older than me. I was fortunate to be raised by my sister, so I didn’t have to go to an orphanage or anything, but it was very difficult because they had young children, and they were quite a bit older. So, I would look at pictures of all of them as children, playing together, and I always felt kind of left out. I was always sort of the bait-and-switch youngest child.
The alcohol just made its way into my life as soon as humanly possible. I started drinking with friends, getting people to buy alcohol for us, and it just became a regular part of my life. The regular drinking probably started as soon as I got out of high school, I was so ready to get away from my sisters and get on my own. It’s like, I just wanted to be a grown up.
The day I turned 18, I was legal, I packed up my car, and I drove out, and went out on my own. Pretty much drank every day for my whole life. It was just a part of my social being. Didn’t really know anything about nutrition back then. I’m a nutritionist now, but I sort of fell into the restaurant business because I was trying to put myself through college. At that time, I was supposed to qualify for social security payments, because I was an orphan, if I went to school, but the Reagan administration cut that benefit.
The drinking was just always a part of everyday life. It was right there in my career. It was right there in my home. I reveled my time with my drinking buddies and friends. The people who didn’t drink, I didn’t really have a judgment on them, but I felt sort of sorry for them, like they were missing out or something.
Around 2012, I was looking for a new career. I was looking for better health. Had no idea what any of that looked like. I was introduced to a network marketing wellness company and thought … The entrepreneur in me was like, “Okay, I’m curious. So, I’m going to check this out.” They had a nutrition component. The way I was able to embrace that was, as a chef, I started a Facebook support group. People who bought my nutrition products then received healthy recipes and support from me.
Learning About Alcohol and Nutrition
Well, being that I wasn’t really a very healthy chef, I had just started my journey of just kind of eating healthier, I really had to start learning a lot. I was still drinking pretty much regularly, at that point. Learning about nutrition, learning about all this stuff. The group itself went viral. There were 1,500 people on it within the company. People were starting to call me a health guru. So, I started to really evaluate my authenticity in this situation. Especially when it came to alcohol and nutrition.
I thought, “If I’m going to represent a health product, I really need to accelerate this health thing.” Consciously drinking less but not really taking it that seriously. I was improving a lot just from my diet. You know when you’re in the bottom of the pitcher plant, like you point out in your book, you’re looking for every reason to just justify that you can keep drinking alcohol or abusing alcohol. I hadn’t made the connection between alcohol and nutrition yet.
What really happened that changed things was I had this drinking buddy in my neighborhood in Los Angeles, Highland Park, which is a pretty social, party kind of neighborhood, kind of a hipster neighborhood. He invited me to do this Dry January thing that a group of friends do every year. So, I was like, “Okay. I’ve really never thought of stopping before.” You know?
I mean, I evaluated it over the years. Asking friends, “Do you think I drink too much?” All my friends would always say, “Oh, no. You don’t have a problem.” Because as you know, in society, if you go on the popular belief around alcohol use, which is pretty much the AA mentality of you’re a special person if you have a problem, and you don’t really have a problem until you hit rock bottom. You cover all that stuff in your book.
Since I wasn’t a total loser or living in the streets, my friends thought I was fine. Everyone would reinforce that I was okay. So, when my friend invited me to dry January, I was like, “Wow. Okay. I think I could do this.” It was kind of a scary prospect. I was like, “Well, this is going to be challenge. Can I really do this?” Naturally, just because of the way I am, I just kind of take things on, full on, usually. I did really well and I aced it. Outlasted everyone else in the group. I was super proud of myself. Of course, that emboldened me to drink more, because I was like, “Well, this is great. I can just stop for a whole month, so I’m fine.”
So, another year goes by and then we tried to do Dry January the next year, and this time I couldn’t stop. I had a hard time stopping. Waking up one Monday, and it was like, that typical thing of, “I’ll start next weekend, I’ll start next weekend.” Repeating this a few weeks over and finally realizing – “This is a serious problem.”
Finding This Naked Mind
I was just sitting on my computer one day. Of all the social media platforms, I think LinkedIn is the one that I use the least. I happened to be on LinkedIn and you just popped up out of nowhere. You were talking about your book, and I looked at the book, and I was like, “This looks really interesting.”
There was something inside of me that was like, “There’s got to be a better way to do this.” That’s also just a question of time efficiency. There’s got to be a more efficient way to address this, right? I wasn’t trained enough as a nutritionist, at the time, so I didn’t have enough clinical experience or knowledge to put things together in that way. I thought about getting your book, and then I talked to my sponsor at AA. Then I had that whole AA thought process of, “Oh, no. This is just my alcoholic telling me that I could do it some other way. I need to just buckle down and go to meetings, and pray, and do all that.”
I asked my sponsor and, of course, he gave me that sort of canned answer. So, I put it out of my head and then a couple weeks later, another relapse. I said, “Screw it.” I was like, “Damn. Who is that person?” So, I went back and I just spent about 30 minutes trying to find you, and I finally found you on LinkedIn again, but this time you were giving away free downloads of your book.
You can learn more about alcohol and nutrition. Download the first 40 pages of This Naked Mind
for free today!
So, I downloaded your book and I devoured it, I think, in like, two and a half days. Annie, it completely changed my life. I mean, it’s incredible. What you put together and how you were able to piece together all that stuff is just … I was blown away. The book just spoke to me on so many levels, and it made so much sense.
It definitely healed my relationship with alcohol. That’s how I like to say it.
Alcohol and Nutrition
It just opened up a whole new world. I mean, this inner athlete in me came out, this inner nerd came out. I’ve been studying, expanding my credentials, expanding my practice, and just a whole different world is out there. Now I use the principles that I learned from you, and I actually use that in my nutrition practice, because the same can apply to food and a lot of other things. We’re hard wired to carry out a lot of really unhealthy behaviors, right? I’m unraveling the link between alcohol and nutrition now.
Tune into the complete podcast to hear just how alcohol and nutrition go together for Harvey.
Special music thank you to the Kevin MacLeod Funkorama (incompetech.com)
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