During the festive holiday season, it can be hard to avoid consuming cocktails and wine. But most cocktails and alcoholic beverages are full of calories and not much else of nutritional value; just a few drinks can break the bank of your calorie budget.
Some of the most traditional beverages are packed with loads of calories and fat. Take good old eggnog: per cup it has a 343 calories and a whopping 19 grams of fat (11 g saturated fat). A Long Island iced tea has 789 calories, and a white Russian has 425 calories. Even a non-alcoholic grande eggnog latte made with nonfat milk at Starbucks is loaded with 450 Calories and 18g of fat (11 g saturated)!
So, how do you make the best of the festivities without completely going overboard or depriving yourself? Here are some dos and don’ts of holiday drinking from Cheryl Forberg, the James Beard award-winning chef, New York Times bestselling author and nutritionist for NBC’s The Biggest Loser.
* Do drink conservatively. Limit yourself to one or two drinks interspersed with water and healthy nibbles over a period of time.
* Do drink a big glass or two of water prior to drinking anything alcoholic. A recent study published in the journal Obesity compared weight loss for two groups of dieters; the group that consumed two cups of water prior to meals dropped more pounds. Water not only makes you feel more full; it provides your body with the hydration it needs for optimum function.
* Do choose wine when you drink alcohol. Wine has calories, but no fat – and it contains health-boosting antioxidants. A 4.1-ounce glass of champagne has 78 calories, while a 5-ounce glass of red wine has 127 calories and contains the powerful antioxidant resveratrol. Just make sure you’re drinking a single serving; the large capacity of some wine glasses can hold 12 ounces or more (that’s at least 300 calories)!
* Do try a wine spritzer (wine mixed with sparkling water) as another festive drinking option. You’ll cut the calories in half and still get some of wine’s beneficial antioxidants.
* Do opt for sparkling water or club soda with a slice of lemon or lime if you need to have a drink in hand at the cocktail party. No one will know it’s not a gin and tonic!
* Do learn how to make allowances for fun indulgences. Just make sure you balance the excess calories with an additional walk or extra time at the gym.
* Don’t choose creamy drinks like eggnog or Irish cream liqueurs, which are loaded with calories and fat.