Holiday Alcohol: How to Celebrate Healthily!

What are the holidays without a festive cocktail? Follow these simple guidelines to enjoy the "spirit" of the season without sabotaging your healthy-eating efforts.

We all know the holidays are full of lots of calories—but some of them are less obvious than others! Some of the most “hidden” calories around the holidays are the ones in our drinks: whether the drink is alcoholic or non-alcoholic, when we spend a lot of time socializing and talking, we get thirsty and grab something sweet or sparkly to quench the thirst and liven up the festive atmosphere.

And while there’s nothing wrong with enjoying some eggnog or holiday punch during this special time of year, those calories are just as real as the ones in cookies, so it’s important to sip smartly! Here are some tips for keeping the calorie content down on your holiday drinks, while still getting to live it up a little.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

Alternate glasses of water with drinks: regardless of what your favorite drink is, getting in the habit of drinking a glass of water between each one will automatically cut your calories in half. It also tends to make you the happy one the next morning if the holiday party goes late into the night!

Mind Your Mixers

Choose low or no-calorie mixers: some folks love Diet Coke, while others like the effervescence of club soda, but regardless, try to make the extra bubbles or the extra sweetness in your alcoholic drinks come to a small total of calories. And be careful with tonic water – it actually does have calories! You can do a diet tonic water though, to keep the sweetness artificial.

Sip Small

Smaller servings help: I love those enormous wine glasses they use in restaurants, but during the holidays, I aim for the smaller wine glasses because it automatically cuts back on how many calories per “drink.” Studies have shown that the size of the plate, cup, or bowl actually impacts how much we drink/eat, so picking the small glass will have some effect.

Go for the Good Stuff

Overall, aim to skimp on quantity rather than quality: If you love the flavor of light beer, by all means drink light beer this holiday season! However, if you prefer a good craft brew, just consider the fact that many light beers contain 110 calories, compared to the 150 calories of a regular beer. You’re better off cutting down by one drink and drinking what you like than you are saying “it’s light beer; I can go wild!”

Make It Virgin

Consider how to make “special” drinks that aren’t alcoholic: Alcoholic drinks can be delicious, but so many calories are the alcohol itself that it can be hard to get down to a truly “low calorie cocktail”—not to mention the fact that alcohol can impair your ability to make healthy choices when it comes to the food. Try mixing a little club soda and cranberry juice, or drinking a diet ginger ale, if you want a truly low calorie drink that still tastes fancier than every day fare. In general, cutting the total alcohol volume will cut down your calorie intake.

It always helps to be conscious of how many drinks you’ve had and, if the opportunity arises, volunteering to be the designated driver – these things will keep you nursing a single drink and thus leaving with way fewer total calories than your holiday party compatriots. That being said, you have to choose the advice that fits your circumstance best – knowing yourself and what you love is the best recipe for healthy and enjoyable holiday alcohol!

Make it WayBetter

Have you ever tried a diet or lower-calorie version of your favorite holiday drink? Look some up and make a sample batch! You might be surprised by how little you miss the full-calorie version… or you might decide that just one of the original is the perfect holiday “cheat day!”