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The Sneaky Holiday Party Item Adding Inches to Your Waistline

Whether you like it or not, the holidays are right around the corner. Everywhere we turn, there’s Christmas decorations, black Friday sales, and maybe a little anxiety about finding that perfect gift. For some, this time of year also means the worry of gaining weight. While there are a lot of ways to watch extra food calories, there’s another culprit that sneaks up on us this season . . . alcohol. Maybe you like to sip on a little eggnog on Christmas Eve, or maybe the stress of entertaining your entire family for days drives you to indulge in a couple extra glasses of wine.

Even if you only drink socially, be cautious of the extra calories hidden in many adult beverages. For example, a single glass of eggnog can cost you up to 350 kcal and over 10 g of saturated fat! A couple glasses of champagne on New Year’s Eve can add on 100 kcal a pop. A night on the town can easily add up to 500 to 1000 kcal, and multiplying that by all of the holiday parties can add inches to your waistline, even if you are watching your food intake and exercising regularly.

First, we need to identify the differences between alcoholic drinks. One serving of beer is 12 ounces and can vary greatly in calorie content. Stick with light beers when you can. A serving of wine is only 5 ounces and may contain anywhere between 100-170 calories. The sweeter the wine, the more calories it will typically have. As for hard liquor, the calories are comparable to beer and wine, but the serving is only 1.5 ounces. If you are going this route, choose a mixer of water or diet soda instead of juice or regular soda. Another tip is to alternate each alcoholic drink with a glass of water.

Another effect of alcohol is that it may lower inhibitions. If you are mingling at a holiday party, this just might mean you make an extra tip or two to the food table, or you make different choices than you would have otherwise.

The next time you have a holiday party, use these techniques to curb the extra (alcohol) calories:

  • Have a healthy snack before you head out for the evening so you are not starving when you get to the party.
  • Hold your drink in your non-dominant hand; it is amazing how much less you will drink this way.
  • Skip dessert.  If you are going to indulge in a candy cane martini or some hot buttered rum, consider it dessert and skip the pie. And as always, drink responsibly.
Erica Jackson, MS, RD, LMNT, CNSC
Erica Jackson, MS, RD, LMNT, CNSC

Erica Jackson, MS, RD, LMNT, CNSC is a Registered Dietitian with CHI Health.

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