french paradox

Regular wine drinking and parenting - controversial antidotes to civilisation

parents drinking wine

I came across an article on the Vinepair website called "Why wine is essential to being a good mother". A very good article which sums up the dilemma facing mothers, and fathers for that matter, whether to hit the bottle of wine or abstain with that glass of sparkling water. The latter being particularly dull after a day with a screaming toddler, difficult teenager or hell commute and office politics.

"Wine o'clock" is a much used phrase when it comes to many families these days. After an exhausting day either looking after kids or battling corporate life in the office, there is nothing more relaxing than a glass or two of wine (even better a bottle shared between two parents). 

As a father, the stresses and strains of dealing with work and family life is obvious and frankly parenting is exhausting.  You move from nappies and no sleep to more sophisticated stresses, rewarding it may be, but not easy. 

In decades past alcohol and tobacco were the mainstay of the so called "antidotes to civilisation". Before smoking was considered dangerous, parents would relax smoking a few Malboro's to chill out and reflect on their days. Now with smoking a no go, many resort to alcohol to unwind. As smoking rates have fallen in Western Europe and the U.S. , drinking of alcohol has shot up. No coincidence I think and why not....

Some in the health community are obsessed with the notion that there is no level of safe alcohol drinking. For example the United Kingdom chief medical officer, Dame Sally Davies, famously said that women should “do as I do” and think about the risks of breast cancer every time they reach for a glass of wine.

However, I reassure myself that in France and the Mediterranean  countries, where smoking rates are still sky high (and supposed bad habits like eating processed meats such as Salami),  life expectancy is still at very high levels. The consistent things in countries like France, Spain and the Greek islands is Olive oil, fresh fruit and vegetables and of course regular consumption of alcohol, particularly red wine. This means people living in these countries have low rates of stroke and heart disease. This so called "French Paradox" seems to be rather reassuring and lets face it several aspects of French life aren't seen as healthy (particularly smoking, ingestion of fatty foods such as duck, pates and cheese). 

prescription wine

Then look at the significant and positive clinical data involving tens of thousands of drinkers and the advice to abstain or drink only occasionally seems off the mark.

The Vinepair article says "in fact, the promise of wine at the end of a particularly challenging day of motherhood is like a beacon in the darkest of nights. It is the reward for a job well done. It is the spoils of war, if you will. I genuinely look forward to it and how consuming a single glass slows me down and transports me to a state of calm, after a day that is chock full of crazy. I don’t look at my nightly glass of cheer as a form of stress management or self medication and I certainly don’t need it (well, “need” is probably debatable). I, like a lot of mothers I know, consume that glass of wine at the end of the day because we truly enjoy relishing the time it takes to enjoy it, time that isn’t being interrupted to get someone a juice box or explain why painting the family dog isn’t a good idea.

After seven years of being in the parenting trenches, this is what I know for sure: Parenting is hard and mothering is exhausting. At the end of each full and moderately productive day, a glass of perfectly chilled Riesling can restore your sanity and leave you prepared to suit up and do battle the next day."

Risk of death is higher for tee totalers than those drinking 2-3 3 glasses per day

Back to the "Antidotes of civilisation" which now can safely include coffee, tea and alcohol. The establishment may advise lettuce leaves, meat once a week, no cheese or salami, not living in a city, regular exercise, 1-2 drinks of alcohol a week at most but life would be awfully boring. More boredom equals more stress equals faster mortality!

Perhaps it would suit someone like Teresa May but for the rest of us, balance is key. I drink red wine, but I exercise regularly, eat healthily and I have my Milk Thistle and think positively about all the resveratrol (from the grape skins) coursing through my body and protecting me against all those nasties like heart diease and furred arteries.

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