Forget Brexit. The great generational divide is over how much you drink. 

In this experiment we challenged a wine-loving mother to trade places with her teetotal daughter. 

Helen Carroll charts how they both got on…

Mandie Ruane (right) and her daughter Kala Spokes (left) swapped drinking habits for seven days

Mandie Ruane (right) and her daughter Kala Spokes (left) swapped drinking habits for seven days

Mandie Ruane (right) and her daughter Kala Spokes (left) swapped drinking habits for seven days

The mother’s story

Mandie Ruane, 50, a widow with three grown-up daughters, is a lettings agent who is also training to be a counsellor. 

Her typical weekly alcohol intake is 40-plus units (recommended intake for women is 14 units).

Mandie enjoys wine and cocktails. She says she drinks more now she's older

Mandie enjoys wine and cocktails. She says she drinks more now she's older

Mandie enjoys wine and cocktails. She says she drinks more now she’s older

I usually celebrate the end of the working week with a drink with colleagues. 

Later, I’ll toast the weekend with a few large glasses of Merlot, sitting on the sofa at home. 

With three daughters, grandchildren, a full-time job and a college course, I have lots of demands on me. Wine helps me to relax.

I’m an outgoing, sociable person. Graham, my partner, who’s 40, and I will often go out with friends on a Saturday night. 

If I’m off to a party, I’ll have a couple of cocktails at home to get me in the mood, then switch to red wine once we’re out. 

I can drink a bottle over the course of an evening and have a few cocktails, too, without any ill-effects.

Most of the people I know drink like me, and it certainly doesn’t feel excessive or something to worry about.

My alcohol consumption has definitely increased with age. 

I married and had children young, so had a lot of responsibilities in my 20s. Back then, wine was a rare treat.

Sadly, I was widowed young, too. My husband took his own life after suffering from depression. It was a very difficult time for all of us — but even then I rarely drank.

But now that the children are grown up with families of their own, and I’m in a happy new relationship, I feel I deserve to enjoy my freedom.

I don’t think that it’s impacted on my health or life in a negative way. I don’t suffer hangovers but, admittedly, I don’t sleep brilliantly. 

Often it takes me an hour or two to fall asleep and I often wake in the night, but I think that is more to do with my age (I’m peri-menopausal).

Sunday lunch wouldn’t be the same without wine, and Graham and I usually share a bottle of white with our roast chicken. 

I wouldn’t say I crave it, but it has become a habit.

Sometimes I’ll have a Cointreau, too. It’s a nice way to finish a meal.

Mandie likes a bottle of wine over a Sunday lunch of roast chicken and drinks most nights

Mandie likes a bottle of wine over a Sunday lunch of roast chicken and drinks most nights

Mandie likes a bottle of wine over a Sunday lunch of roast chicken and drinks most nights

During the week I drink most nights. 

I like a glass of wine while I’m cooking and I’ll have another glass or two over dinner. 

If I’ve got friends over, then the alcohol always flows. We’d have much less fun without it.

My daughters barely drink, but they don’t nag me about my habits. 

The only time they do bring it up is when I complain about my weight — then they’re quick to point out that alcohol is packed with calories. 

I’m interested to see how I get on without drinking any alcohol for a week.   

The daughter’s story

Kala Spokes, 29, is a business development manager and mum to Jack, seven, and Summer, four. She drinks very rarely.

Her typical weekly alcohol intake is 0 units.

Kala very rarely drinks. She prefers a cup of tea to a bottle of wine if a friend pops over 

Kala very rarely drinks. She prefers a cup of tea to a bottle of wine if a friend pops over 

Kala very rarely drinks. She prefers a cup of tea to a bottle of wine if a friend pops over 

When it gets to Friday night, I know my mum, like many of her generation, likes to wind down with a bottle of wine — but that just doesn’t appeal to me. 

Not only have I got the responsibility of my two young children — I’ve been a single mother since their father and I separated three years ago — but I don’t even like the taste of most alcoholic drinks.

In my teens I’d go drinking with friends, but I’m confident and talkative and I soon realised I could have just as good a time without alcohol.

Nowadays I have a couple of drinks when I go to parties — something sweet and palatable like a Southern Comfort and Coke — but never on a work night and certainly not at home.

I’m not unusual among women my age. We’re focused on health and fitness and on staying slim.

That’s more important than going out and getting drunk.

If a girlfriend calls round in the evening, we won’t open a bottle of wine but will have a cup of tea instead. Our only decadence is sharing a bar of chocolate.

As I tell Mum when she complains about feeling fat, drink’s full of calories. 

It boosts your appetite, too, and in my experience those who drink tend to eat more junk.

Mum doesn’t sleep well and I think that’s down to the drink. 

I’ve seen research showing that alcohol means you spend less time in deep sleep and more in the lighter, less satisfying stages.

And that is certainly confirmed by my sleep habits: I get eight or nine hours of unbroken sleep most nights and wake up refreshed.

That said, I’m no party pooper. I love socialising and chatting with friends — few of whom drink. 

I think our attitude might have something to do with all the alcohol awareness campaigns we were exposed to while growing up.

Kala says her generation are more concerned with staying slim than going out boozing

Kala says her generation are more concerned with staying slim than going out boozing

Kala says her generation are more concerned with staying slim than going out boozing

We don’t see it as merely a social lubricant but as something that can cause cancer, heart disease and all kinds of other health problems.

I’m a bit nervous about adopting my mother’s drinking habits as, although I don’t think she has a drink problem, I worry that she drinks far too much.

I’ve picked a week when the children will be with their dad most of the time to swap drinking habits with her.

After a rundown from Mum on what wine and spirits I’m going to need, I stocked up and almost fell over at the Sainsbury’s checkout when I saw the bill: £89! 

That’s already put me in a bad mood. What a waste!

Kala thinks her mum would see her weight go down as well as her spending if she cut back on booze

Kala thinks her mum would see her weight go down as well as her spending if she cut back on booze

Kala thinks her mum would see her weight go down as well as her spending if she cut back on booze

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