Holiday Diet Worries: Add Joy, Not Pounds (cont.)

Musante says, "You have work to do to get family members on your side."

Mattes recommends two alternative approaches to managing drinking and eating behaviors. "Continue to drink what you would drink, but purposely watch what you eat, and compensate for those calories by eating less of other things. It will have to be a conscious effort because the beverages don't lead to a clear satiety signal that would cause you to spontaneously stop eating."

The alternative is to drink noncaloric beverages, such as water, diet sodas, coffee, or tea. "It's not fluid per se that promotes weight gain," says Mattes. "It's energy-yielding fluids that promote weight gain. We have to stay hydrated, but make a good choice."

Here are some tips for limiting alcohol calories during holiday festivities:

  • Drink water. "Alcohol is a diuretic," Vasconcellos tells WebMD. "When you get thirsty and you're inclined to have another drink, make it water instead."
  • Stretch your drinks. Add sparkling water or ice cubes, and nurse a drink all night.
  • For mixed drinks, use diet soda, low-calorie fruit juice, or seltzer.
  • Choose lower-calorie drinks, such as dry wine, instead of eggnog.
  • Have the bartender mix a skinny version of a favorite, like the White Russian. Mix 1.5 ounces each of Kahlua and vodka with 2 ounces of soymilk for a total of 298 calories compared with 508 calories when made with cream. Make it with nonfat milk for a total of 251 calories.
  • Drink coffee. Coffee is fashionable, and the holiday season features interesting flavors like eggnog.
  • Be a designated driver. Your friends will be grateful -- and safe.

Eat and Drink in Moderation -- and Enjoy the Holidays

We all know it's easier to prevent weight gain than to take weight off. "Falling down at the holidays undermines your confidence and weight loss program," says Musante. "Many people tell me that was their downfall, and they waited until much later in the year to recover." "Don't approach the holidays thinking you'll lose weight," says Vasconcellos. "You'll set yourself up to fail, and you won't be able to enjoy food without feeling guilty. There are so many special foods. Pick and choose."

Here are calorie and carbohydrate counts for some of your favorite drinks from the Joslin Diabetes Center web site:

Beverage Amount (ounces) Calories Carbohydrates (grams)
Beer 12 150 14
Light beer 12 100 6
86-proof liquor (gin, rum, vodka, whiskey, Scotch, bourbon) 1.5 105 trace
Red table or rose wine 4 85 1
Dry white wine 4 80 0.4
Sweet wine 2 90 6.5
Light wine 4 55 1.3
Wine cooler 12 190 22
Champagne 4 100 3.6
Sherry 2 75 1.5
Sweet sherry/port 2 95 7
Dry vermouth 3 105 4.2
Sweet vermouth 3 140 13.9

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) web site defines a standard alcoholic drink as one 12-ounce beer, 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits. Moderate alcohol consumption means no more than two drinks a day for men and no more than one drink a day for women and adults over age 65.

SOURCES: Joslin Diabetes Center web site. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism web site. Richard D. Mattes, MPH, PhD, RD, professor, foods and nutrition, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind. Gerard J. Musante, PhD, founder, Structure House; consulting professor, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C. Pat Vasconcellos, RD, spokeswoman, American Dietetic Association, Boston.

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Last Editorial Review: 12/9/2004 6:27:21 PM