Holiday Drinking: Hidden Calories

July 10, 2009

Drink in moderation for healthy living

Did you know some holiday drinks pack as much cholesterol as two fast-food combo meals? Find out more about the worst choices before you go to holiday parties.

This season, remember that it's not just mashed potatoes, casseroles, or holiday sweets that can get the best of your diet. Holiday drinks can do just as much damage to your waistline.

You are what you eat – and drink

Did you know that a 16-ounce peppermint mocha is 470 calories, with 80 mg of cholesterol? Yes, that's right. This holiday drink is only slightly worse for you than a double cheeseburger from a fast-food chain. Sometimes it's not just the cookies and cakes that can blow your diet during the holidays. Often it's all of the warm or alcoholic drinks at holiday parties that do the most damage.

Be aware of what you're putting into your body this season. Just a few drinks can quickly add major calories. We've broken down some holiday favorites so you can see the calorie, carbohydrate, fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol levels:

Peppermint Mocha This is one of the worst drinks you can have. And it's even worse when you load it up with whole milk and whipped cream. Many of the calories come from the whole milk, whipped cream, and sugary syrups. If you want a peppermint mocha, try the sugar-free peppermint and chocolate syrups with nonfat milk.

470 calories, 61 g carbohydrates, 22 g fat, 13 g saturated fat, 80 mg cholesterol

Hot Buttered Rum The problem is in the title: butter. Add in sugar and whipped cream and you have a major calorie buster. There's no denying this delicious beverage is a wonderful treat. It also spells big trouble for your waistline. Besides, rum can have a much higher alcohol content than other holiday drinks. In fact, this drink packs a double dose of calories and alcohol.

418 calories, 35 g carbohydrates, 17 g fat, 11 g saturated fat, 51 mg cholesterol

Margaritas Margaritas are a year-round favorite, but they're loaded with empty calories. While they have no fat or cholesterol, Margaritas are extremely high in sugar. That sugar adds up to a whopping 408 calories in a 9-ounce serving, excluding ice.

408 calories, 25 g carbohydrates, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol

Eggnog Eggnog has always been a fatty drink suspect. It's too thick and delicious to be healthy. Just one cup of store-bought eggnog has 350 calories and 149 mg of cholesterol. That's as much cholesterol as in two double cheeseburgers, two fries, and two soft drinks. There's a reason this treat is just for the holidays. It can be one of the biggest reasons for holiday weight gain.

350 calories, 34 g carbohydrates, 19 g fat, 11 g saturated fat, 149 mg cholesterol

Mud Slide The alcohol in this holiday delicacy makes the calories add up. Irish cream liqueur, a key ingredient, is to blame for 156 of the 295 calories. The rest of the calories come from the coffee liqueur – 91 calories. The half-and-half cream only contributes about 40 calories.

295 calories, 20 g carbohydrates, 8 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 15 mg cholesterol

Brandy Alexander Crème de cacao is the sugary devil in this holiday favorite. It can pack up to 120 calories per serving, depending on how it's made. Brandy adds more than a few calories of its own – about 60 per ounce.

246 calories, 8 g carbohydrates, 9 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 20 mg cholesterol

Protect yourself and those you care about

During the holiday season, and year-round, take steps to make sure you and everyone you celebrate with have a safe holiday experience.

  • Plan ahead - Always designate a non-drinking driver before a party begins. If you don't have a driver, have the number of a reliable cab company in the area.
  • Take the keys - Don't let a friend drive drunk or buzzed. Remember, the cost of a cab is always worth it.
  • Be a helpful host - If you're hosting a party this holiday season, remind your guests to have a sober driver – and make sure all of your guests leave with a sober driver. Also, be sure to offer alcohol-free beverages for those not drinking.
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