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Food and Wine after 50 … friends or foe?

Posted in Aging, Food, Food & Entertaining, and Health

941347_10201135459217365_876590108_nWhen I was in London late last year I was stunned by the amount that people were drinking. I had honestly forgotten that it was perfectly ok to have two or three with lunch, a couple of cheeky cocktails pre-meal, wine with dinner and a snifter of something to put the evening to bed.

That much alcohol would leave me pole-axed.

We were at a celebration and no-one was driving anywhere – so no harm done. Except to livers and heads (and one or two relationships). I don’t even try and keep up; once upon a time I could drink a bottle of wine across the breadth of an evening and leap out of bed the next morning. Not any more. Nowadays my inability to drink is matched only by my disinterest in a hangover. I am a two drink date.

The defining realisation came with my fiftieth birthday – my friend Maurits and I had made sure we had plenty of champers at our shared party. Pink and dry – light and finely fizzy – and I must have drunk a half a bottle. With no other alcohol passing my lips. The next two days were a nightmare of cramps and headache. I had itchy bumps on my stomach and the back of my knees. I felt nauseous and disorientated. That experience heralded a change in my socialising – my favourite drink was off limits. Now even a half a glass of bubbly, drunk to toast Gavin’s new job: makes itself felt the next morning.

And it’s not just with alcohol – food is delivering some sucker punches too. Orange juice, strawberries, granola, bran cereal, yoghurt: eaten every day in the past – recently not even vaguely an option. Garlic and onions, once a complete no-go – are now perfectly acceptable raw or cooked. And chili and spices – past arbiters of heartburn and gas, are now welcomed at my table.

These days I eat swiss chard and cruciferous veggies with impunity. Greens I avoided in the past out of respect to my dining companions. But offer me hummus and lentils at your own risk. Dry or flinty white wines are history, yet I crave acid in tomato and use lemons liberally: with no push back. Cheese has never really interested me – now I am browsing the cool cabinets for an interesting blue or oozy brie. Yet if I smell milk, I gag.

What is up with me?  I am absolutely sure my immune system has targeted some foods and disembargoed others. Getting older seems to be the only plausible explanation.

I bumped into a friend who is a holistic doctor and asked him the question. This is a guy who believes that people would benefit from learning the difference between unwell and sick and who has short shrift with hypochondriacs. He rolled his eyes: “Oh it has everything to do with aging. Your body is not as resilient as it once was. And it doesn’t want to have to work as hard – so it lets you know immediately. It’s simple, if it doesn’t work for you – don’t swallow it. If it does – enjoy.”

And menopause- how could that be impacting?  “Well firstly you are not there yet – and secondly menopause can change how your tastebuds respond for a while but not how your body deals with food.”

What the alcohol situation? “Just stop drinking champagne. Drink something else.”

He prescribed a single gin and tonic to be taken as a meditation every evening. A perfect twenty minutes spent quietly sipping and contemplating the universe. Good for the body and the soul. But to stop there. Because, he says, no-one needs to ‘meditate’ for hours on end.

So – cheers from the sofa: I’m taking the good Doc’s advice and expect it to carry me thought my  next half century. Ohmmmmm …

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17 Comments

  1. I so hear you, my body bloats like a spong at the mere sight of bread, let alone a few glasses of wine at dinner. Processed food, sugar and eggplant will also do me in. And it shows on my face, yuck:(

    But, I’m loving green drinks. I nice way to repent.

    May 12, 2013
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  2. My body also decided it didn’t like certain familiar foods as the decades flew by – cucumber, for example. I don’t drink alcohol an more, my body really doesn’t like it, and your opening para about the amounts the Brits were drinking rang a bell with me – sounds like a lot of booze to me!

    May 9, 2013
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  3. I recommend gin and tonic with a very thin slice of cucumber or two rather than the usual lemon. Also obviously if it’s one drink a night, you will have to have the very best gin 🙂

    May 7, 2013
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  4. I’m the other way around: the older I get the more I drink hehe.

    Although differently. 8-10 years ago, when I was just a crazy kid, it’d be all concentrated on a night out or a concert or a festival. Result: unbearable Sunday mornings in front of giant breakfasts.

    Now I drink less during the weekend (not a big fan of massive hangover) but more during midweek days. Some wine here, some there… may be London 😛

    May 7, 2013
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    • A little of what you fancy always does you good – yo are welcome to celebrate Ohmmm Hour with us with your favourite tipple of the moment.

      May 7, 2013
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  5. silvia
    silvia

    Can I join your Ohmmmm Hour with a nice infusion?
    I know this is soooo boring….

    May 7, 2013
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    • Of course you can – whatever makes you happy… works!

      May 7, 2013
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  6. Glenis Wildish
    Glenis Wildish

    Susie (Just to put your friends in the picture, this is me your Mum – 75 years old). Loved your article and want to add my experience. Have always absolutely loved my coffee. Instant not those fancy brews. About a year ago woke up one morning and now cannot stomach it. I seriously thought that I might be pregnant and that was what brought on this change in my “‘drinking” habits”. Your Dad assured me that
    even a medical miracle could not have achieved this. Love you girl!!!!!!

    May 7, 2013
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    • Mom – I did not know that .. tho, come to think of it you were drinking tea when you last were here. I would be devastated to lose coffee. Makes giving up champers pale into insignificance. Ermmm … pegnant?

      May 7, 2013
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  7. Janet Rörschåch
    Janet Rörschåch

    Love anyone who prescribes a gin and tonic as daily medication. Loved this post.

    May 7, 2013
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    • Thanks Janet and welcome to Ohmmm Hour

      May 7, 2013
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  8. I hear you loud and clear! I too have had to adjust on the various foods I once enjoyed and have had to cut back dramatically because of the reactions stomach has. It’s not happy with my usual foods anymore and demands less and demands different. Yep, being over 50 has its joys!

    May 7, 2013
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    • I definitely eat less too Zina – interesting. I guess we are lucky that it didn’t go the other way!

      May 7, 2013
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  9. Can I substitute Campari and fizzy lemon for gin and tonic? One every night?

    May 6, 2013
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    • You May. And that’s my plan for Ohmmm Hour too.

      May 7, 2013
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  10. Loved this post and found it so interesting – I never pay attention to things that disagree with me, put I guess I’m lucky that I’m tolerant to most things (and thank God I can still drink champagne/wine!! LOL). I love your style of writing – enjoy your gin and tonic (have you tried Hendricks? Really nice cool cucumber taste/milder than regular gins) 🙂

    May 6, 2013
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    • Ooh Sounds delish – will look out for it!

      May 7, 2013
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