This piece is a look at the place that beverage alcohol has, or should have, in the healthy, well-adjusted human being.

The major sources of a great deal of the misinformation are well meaning folks determined to promote a particular lifestyle. North America in particular has had, with the exception of the major urban cities of the United States of America and the Canadian province of Quebec, a less than accepting attitude towards alcohol consumption of any kind… at least officially.

The causes and effects of the Prohibition movements I will leave to the history writers. However, I would like to report on that elusive “moderation” when it comes to beverage alcohol consumption.

You might have noticed my use of “beverage alcohol” rather than beer or wine or spirits or booze or hooch or any other euphemism used to describe the sub groups of beverages that have ethyl alcohol as a base. This way I can include all in my search for moderation. To leave one out would be a disservice to that beverage. I will visit, only for context, the argument made that “a drink is a drink is a drink” when amounts of alcohol per drink consumed is brought up.

I will also not visit the sociologically twisted path of wine at the dinner table but no beer on the beach and binge drinking. However I will be looking at the definition of “binge drinking” which should be interesting.

What brought on this rant?

For those of us of a certain age, a visit to the medical doctor should be an annual thing. Of particular interest to the medical professionals are blood pressure and weight maintenance. Survivors of traumatic illness are of special interest. This is where I fit in. I’m a middle aged male cancer survivor. This means visits to health professionals of one sort or another every six months. This visit to the medical team the topic of alcohol consumption came up when my profession was noted. After telling the young doctor that most mornings I start the day with a beer tasting and posting the results of that beer tasting on my site. I went further to infer that my mental health would take a turn for the worse if I missed my walk to lunch at an assortment of watering holes and three pints of beer. Her alarmed reaction was enough for me to fear for her health. She strongly suggested that I seek counseling for my problem. At that point I told her what she wanted to hear and kept my responses to “yes” and “no” until she relented and went away to file her report.

Not Enough Communication?

This little event left me pensive. The fact that I hadn’t admitted that I only need to taste two ounces of beer at most to make a full set of tasting notes or that lunch usually takes three hours and is more than what most call a full meal was of course a failure to communicate on both our parts of the interview. I should have prefaced the answer by telling her what I do for a living and that my “lunches” often are spread over three or four hours at one or two eating establishments and most often includes rather substantial servings of well-made good quality food. Perhaps I should have prefaced my response with the mention that not just a few lunches involve the tasting of wines both red and white. The tasting always including the learning of the nature of the vineyard and the techniques used to make that particular wine truly unique. The learning about the cuisine of the area where the vineyard has its roots as well as local cultural traditions expands not only the senses of taste and smell but the expansion of knowledge.

Perhaps she could have begun the interview by asking me what I had for the last three meals I had consumed. That basic question would reveal more than just my food fetishes. It would have told her my attitude about health, my sense of self and respect of healthful living. It would have also placed my alcohol consumption in context.

A “Case” of Moderation?

This is not to say that my blood alcohol content has not exceeded sobriety in some cases. This is not to say that I have not occasionally over-indulged in the particular beverage alcohol that I was imbibing in. When offered the opportunity to celebrate almost anything you will not need to ask for my participation. Tell me what we are celebrating only if you must.

However, there is, to my way of thinking, a big difference between celebrating life and doing research. Yes, there are times that the two overlap and that must be recognized in the same way a particular professor’s class became more than a class necessary for graduation. It was an experience that changed how you looked at everything. This phenomena happens often if you are employed in a profession that you truly like practicing.

How much is enough?

What have I learned from the above experience? First, communication is my profession so it would behoove me to exercise my professional skills when verbally communicating with people, especially people in the medical profession. Second, context is essential in communication. And finally, there can never be too much good communication because good communication does more than just connect you with the person you are communicating with. It also gives them an infusion of good communication and knowing it or not, that exposure will influence the way they will communicate with the next person.

Too much to drink?

As soon as you don’t need convincing that you are smartest person in the room.