Holiday Drinking: Hidden Calories

Drink in moderation for healthy living

Did you know some holiday drinks can pack as much cholesterol as two fast-food combo meals? Find out more about healthier alternatives to your favorite festive drinks.

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 regular 16-ounce peppermint mocha is 470 calories, with 80 mg of cholesterol? Yes, that's right. Some of the ingredients in this holiday favorite are just as calorie loaded as the ingredients in a fast food combo meal. 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 may 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 nutrition facts and healthier alternative options.

Peppermint Mocha This is one of the highest calorie carb, and fat 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. See the comparison below whole milk is substituted for skim and the whipped cream is removed.

470 calories, 63 g carbohydrates, 19 g fat, 11 g saturated fat, 55 mg cholesterol

A healthier alternative:

320 calories, 60 g carbohydrates, 2.5 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 5 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 alone can add up to more than 500 calories. Using more natural ingredients such as lime juice and agave nectar can significantly decrease the calories in a single margarita. See the comparison below.

1,113 calories, 50 g carbohydrates, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol

A healthier alternative:

135 calories, 10 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. Creating your own using nonfat milk is sure to reduce some of the calories and fat.

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

A healthier alternative:

106 calories, 15.3 g carbohydrates, 2.5 fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol

White Russian The dairy alone in this holiday delicacy can make or break whether it is considered healthy. Sure, the coffee liquor has a significant amount of calories, but the heavy cream is where most of the fat is. See the comparison below by simply substituting 2% milk for heavy cream.

580 calories, 27 g carbohydrates, 33 g fat, 21 g saturated fat, 122 mg cholesterol

A healthier alternative:

166 calories, 15 g carbohydrates, 1.9 g fat, 1.2 g saturated fat, 7.8 mg cholesterol

Brandy Alexander Crème de cacao is the sugary devil in this holiday favorite. It can pack up to 200 calories per serving, depending on how it's made. Brandy adds more than a few calories of its own but with a couple of simple tweaks, there are healthier options available.

632 calories, 47 g carbohydrates, 31.5 g fat, 19 g saturated fat, 1 mg cholesterol

A healthier alternative:

217 calories, 32 g carbohydrates, .2 g fat, .1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol

Although there are plenty of alternatives available for lower calorie holiday cocktails, alcohol still has quite a few calories itself. Making your holiday cocktail non-alcoholic is also a fast way to eliminate unwanted calories.

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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