Holiday Toasting: Hidden Calories Can Wreck Your Diet

A cup of eggnog sits amid other holiday treats
(Image credit: Eggnog photo via Shutterstock)

Imagine arriving at a coworker's holiday party — she greets you with a warm smile and a glass of homemade eggnog. But, did you know that just one cup of eggnog can contain nearly 350 calories? Yikes! Swirling around in that attractive glass are 17 percent or more of your recommended daily calories.

Most people know that they should avoid sugary desserts and butter-soaked side dishes if they want to stay healthy and lean. The dishes that will cause you to pack on the pounds are usually pretty obvious. But what happens when they're not dishes at all? As with the eggnog, calorie counts can take us by surprise.

Eggnog serves as a good reminder that we need to be aware of everything that crosses our lips — especially alcoholic beverages. Most drinks aren't quite as heavy as eggnog, but the calories can add up fast when you have more than one. Here are just a few popular drinks, along with their estimated calorie counts:

  • Cosmopolitan: 210 calories
  • Mimosa: 135 calories
  • Red wine: 125 calories
  • Light beer: 100 calories
  • Champagne: 90 calories

Adults in the U.S. consume an average of nearly 100 calories from alcohol per day, according to a study published this month based on data from the National Health and Nutrition survey. Of course, that doesn't mean that everyone is drinking alcohol every day. It's an average based on our overall consumption.

It does indicate, though, that we should keep a close watch on those liquid calories. And considering there's a good that chance that many liquid calories are consumed during the holiday season, what better time to start than right now?

Here are some of my favorite healthy alternatives to alcoholic drinks, to get you through those holiday toasts.

  1. Mock Champagne: Combine ginger ale with a splash of white grape juice, and you've got yourself a tasty, non-alcoholic beverage that will look the same as the bubbly in everyone else's toasting flutes.
  2. Arnold Palmer: This classic virgin cocktail is made with equal parts of iced tea and lemonade. The trick here is to go easy on the sweetener.
  3. Berry Lemonade: Make some fresh lemonade (again, go easy on the sweetener) and sprinkle in some colorful berries. It's festive, fun and low calorie.
  4. Spa Water: Have you ever had cucumber water at a spa? It's refreshing, rejuvenating and it somehow makes you feel like you're being pampered. Instead of ingesting something mildly toxic, why not nourish your body from the inside out? To make spa water, add cucumber slices to a pitcher of water and refrigerate overnight.

Healthy Bites appears on MyHealthNewsDaily on Wednesdays. Deborah Herlax Enos is a certified nutritionist and a health coach and weight loss expert in the Seattle area with more than 20 years of experience. Read more tips on her blog, Health in a Hurry!

Deborah Enos
Deborah Enos, CN, also known as "The One-Minute Wellness Coach," is The Health Coach for busy, working people. She pares her good-health messages down to simple and fast bullet points that can impact lives in 60 seconds or less. Deborah serves as a board member of the American Heart Association.  In addition to writing the Healthy Bites column for Live Science, Deborah is a regular on FOX Business News, NBC and ABC, and is a frequent contributor to The Costco Connection, Parade Magazine, Self Magazine, Good Housekeeping and USA Today. Deborah is also The One Minute Wellness Coach for The Doctors TV Show.