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Cutting calories from holiday beverages

December 20, 2013

What is a sneaky way you are adding calories to your holiday festivities? It's not what's on your plate but in your glass that may be packing on those unwanted holiday pounds.

  • 12 ounces of regular beer has about 150 calories
  • 1.5 ounces of hard alcohol has about 100 calories
  • 5 ounces of wine has about 125 calories
  • Mixed drinks can have anywhere from 125 calories to 500 calories
  • 12 ounces of regular soda has about 140 calories
  • 8 ounces of eggnog has about 225 calories
  • Gourmet espresso beverages can have anywhere from 190 to 500 calories

Calories from drinks like these provide little to no nutritional value and don't make us full like real food does. In addition, alcohol can cause you to eat more, further increasing the amount of calories you consume. Use these tips from theKendall Anderson Nutrition Center to moderate your calorie consumption from beverages during this holiday season.

  1. Fill up your glass with water in between each alcoholic beverage you consume at a party.
  2. Make a wine spritzer by combining equal parts of red or white wine and sparkling water.
  3. Choose diet soda or sparkling water over regular soda as a mix-in.
  4. Choose 80 proof spirits over 100 proof spirits to save 20 calories per ounce.
  5. Wait until food is served to consume alcohol.
  6. Lighten up your margarita by using fresh lime juice instead of a pre-made mix. Shake 1 ounce tequila, 1/2 ounce orange-flavored liqueur, and 1 1/2 ounces fresh squeezed lime juice with 3/4 cup ice and serve garnished with fresh lime slices.
  7. 12 ounces of tonic water has about 125 calories; substitute it with soda water and fresh lime juice, or diet lemon-lime soda instead.
  8. Mix 2-4 ounces of eggnog with 2-4 ounces of skim milk to get the same holiday flavor without all the calories and saturated fat.
  9. Order a skinny café au lait (equal parts coffee and frothy steamed milk) and top it with a sprinkle of cinnamon as an alternative to a latte.
  10. Use words such as "small", "skinny", "half flavor shot", and/or "unsweetened" when ordering beverages at your favorite coffee shop.
  11. Skip the whipped cream to save 100 calories or more.
  12. If choosing beer, lower calorie options don't have to taste watered down. Pilsner and IPA choices tend to have higher calorie values than an Amber or Ale variety.
  13. Choose sparkling white wine (a.k.a. champagne) over regular wine. The bubbles tend to make you drink more slowly. Be careful though, champagne can cause more headaches than regular wine.
  14. When you are in the mood for a hot beverage, choose apple cider over hot chocolate to cut down on calories and saturated fat. Apple cider also contains potassium, vitamin C, and a touch of iron.
  15. If you're making hot chocolate at home, use water as the liquid instead of 2% milk to save 81 calories and 5 grams of fat.

If you choose to consume alcohol, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggests moderating it to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men for reduced cardiovascular disease risk. Instead of depriving yourself during the holidays, enjoy moderate amounts of holiday beverages while keeping these tips in mind!

Want more tips?

Looking for more tips and tricks to keep you and your family healthy, happy, and active? Check out our Pinterest page with great ideas from experts in the College of Health and Human Sciences.