Beware of high-calorie holiday drinks

Nothing says “it’s the holidays” quite like a creamy cup of eggnog or a mug of spiced apple cider. But drinking too many of these festive beverages can leave you looking like Santa.

Calories in Holiday Beverages Before you reach for that glass of cheer, take note: fancy beverages are often loaded with calories, fat and sugar. In fact, many holiday cocktails and coffeehouse drinks pack more calories than desserts. To burn off the calories in one hot buttered rum, for instance, a 150-lb. woman would have to walk briskly for approximately 90 minutes. Check out the average calorie counts on popular holiday drinks — and approximately how much exercise a 150-lb. woman would need to do to burn it off: Alcoholic: *Eggnog (one cup): 391 calories = 35 minutes of kickboxing *Hot buttered rum (16oz): 418 calories = a 4-mile run *White Russian (16oz): 355 calories = 30 minutes of jumping rope *Chocolate liqueur (3oz on the rocks): 310 calories = 40 minutes on the elliptical trainer *Mudslide (8oz): 590 calories = taking a 45-minute spin class * Champagne (5oz): 122 calories = 30 minutes of water aerobics * Champagne punch (one cup): 146 calories = 30 minutes of raking leaves * Peppermint Mojito (6oz): 180 calories =  30 minutes of Pilates * Martini (3oz): 196 calories = 25 minutes using a rowing machine *Spiced cider with rum (one cup): 150 calories = 45 minutes of housework *White wine (5oz): 121 calories = 35 minutes of strength training * Red wine (5oz): 125 calories = 30 minutes of playing with your kids</li></ul> Non-alcoholic: * Eggnog (one cup): 343 calories = 45 minutes of hiking *Hot cocoa (12oz): 320 calories = 50 minutes of moderate aerobics * Peppermint mocha (16oz): 470 calories = one hour of intense yoga * Pumpkin spice latte (16oz): 410 calories = 40 minutes of step aerobics *Holiday punch (one cup): 234 calories = 30 minutes of ice skating *Spiced apple cider (one cup): 117 calories = 25 minutes of dancing *Sparkling grape juice (one cup): 152 calories = a 20-minute swim</li></ul> Tips to Lighten Up Try these tricks to save calories on your favorite holiday beverages: 1. Cut serving sizes: Pour spiced cider into champagne flutes instead of a regular glass and the portion will be a few ounces smaller. You’ll cut calories but still feel like you’re drinking a full serving. Serve up hot beverages like eggnog or hot chocolate in shot glasses and garnish them with whipped cream, sprinkles, cocoa powder or cinnamon. This fancy display will be pleasing for both the eyes and waistline. 2. Substitute a lighter milk. Coffee beverages, cocoas, eggnog and White Russians are made using milk or cream. Sub skim or one percent milk for whole milk and use half-and-half in place of whipping cream and you’ll save calories and fat. 3. Get creative. Forget about the high-calorie cocktails this year and make holiday wine coolers instead. Start out with 5 oz. of white wine, add a splash of cranberry juice and garnish with a mini candy cane. This merry concoction contains less than one-third of the calories in a hot buttered rum. 4. Hydrate with water. Nothing quenches your thirst as well as good old H2O. When you feel thirsty, drink a cup of water before ordering a festive beverage. Sip on water between alcoholic drinks, too. If water is too plain for you, add a slice of lime, lemon or cucumber for a burst of flavor. Or try sparkling water. 5. Plan ahead. If want to cap off the night with a cup of eggnog, plan for it earlier in the day. Skip dessert or have a smaller dinner so you can indulge later on. 6. Nix the alcohol. Ordering your favorite drinks virgin can save you up to 100 calories per beverage. Try this recipe for a merry pomegranate champagne punch “mocktail”: combine a half a cup of fruit juice with half a cup of pomegranate juice, add frozen raspberries and garnish with a lemon peel. 7. Skip the extras. Many holiday cocoas, coffee drinks and alcoholic beverages are topped with whipped cream, chocolate sauce, sprinkles or a candy cane. While these garnishes look nice, the extra calories aren’t doing any favors for your waistline. Skip these extras, and when ordering coffee beverages, ask the barista for fewer pumps of the pumpkin, gingerbread or peppermint syrup. Chances are your drink will still be just as flavorful without it. 8.  Don’t pass up your favorites. There’s no reason to be a Scrooge and completely deprive yourself of your favorite beverages. Just be sure to indulge in high-calorie drinks only in moderation and keep up with other healthy habits, like having good nutrition and getting regular exercise, throughout the holiday season. What’s your must-have holiday beverage and how do you make it healthier? I cannot resist white hot chocolate, but I always hold the whipped cream to keep calories in check. Sources: