Alcohol with Meals

I think it is appropriate to mention alcohol with meals when discussing family eating habits. After all, civilised eating, in most parts of the world, is accompanied by civilised drinking.

The countries where these two things are separate in the culture, have the worst problems of addiction, under-age drinking, binge-drinking and general drunkenness.

I believe the remedy to these societal problems is to be found at the family table. It is where we teach our children to eat in a civilised, sociable way. Why do we not also teach them how to drink in a civilised, sociable way, as the parents of Mediterranean countries do?

Surely teenagers need to learn from their parents' example, that food and drink belong together, that drink is best enjoyed in good company, in moderation and not by anyone who has to drive home. They also need to learn that it is important, for their personal safety, to know when they have had enough to drink.

They need to be introduced to alcohol in a safe setting, so they can gradually learn what it does to them and how much they can drink, without compromising their personal safety. They should learn these things in the safety of the home, not in a field with a six-pack, or in a nightclub with alco-pops and Red Bull.

If parents do not teach their sons and daughters how to drink, as part of civilised behaviour, teenagers will learn about it through what is predominant in the culture----the binge-drinking and public drunkenness which puts our young people in situations of extreme danger, not to mention the long-term effects on their physical and mental health. Positive example from their parents would be much more effective than prohibition in changing this cultural phenomenon.

The family meal would be a good place to start showing them good example. I believe it is a sign of our immaturity that we view this approach as something radical, or something ‘liberal parents’ do.

In many cultures, it is normal for parents to introduce their children to alcohol with meals. It has been tried and tested over many generations on Continental Europe. It is a custom we would do well to adopt in the English-speaking world.

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Remember, healthy eating is enjoyable!

Blessings on your table!

The Good Food Angel.


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