The weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years are notorious for taking a toll on your waist line. The Holidays seem to be all wrapped up in indulgence.
However, most of us are so consumed by maintaining enough willpower to keep from over-eating, that we forget about the calories we can accumulate by over-drinking. Calories from alcohol add up quick. Plus, they are considered ’empty’ calories meaning they don’t provide your body with any vital nutrients, nor will they make you fill full.
To keep you from stressing over one more thing this season, we’ve put together this guide on what to sip on when you’re out to healthy cocktails you can make at home . Now you can enjoy some Holiday fun and not derail your fitness progress. Raise your glass to our tasty makeovers; this might just be your healthiest and most stress-free season yet.
Guide to Healthy Holiday Drinking
Before you Drink
Although these are all healthier ways to drink, the key to “healthy” drinking is really moderation. One way to do this is drinking water in-between alcoholic drinks. It will help you gauge how much you’ve had, how drunk you are, and whether or not you should stop. To an extent, drinking water after a night out can also prevent a hangover.
Eating food before you start drinking — especially something with starch or dairy — can coat the stomach in preparation for the alcoholic attack it’s about to endure and prevent symptoms like nausea, upset stomach, and headaches, according to Forbes. On top of that, the food will soak up some of the alcohol, mediating the body’s process of absorbing alcohol.
If you didn’t get a chance to eat before you started drinking, there’s no better time than the present. Drinking on an empty stomach has been shown to get people drunk faster, and getting drunk faster could lead to more drinking as the night goes on. Instead, try eating something — celery, carrots, nuts, or even dinner — while you drink. The trick is to be smart about what you’re eating, and to avoid letting alcohol-induced inhibitions sway you toward fattier foods like pizza or fast food
When you go out drinking
If you like liquor
Straight liquor is healthiest if served neat (alone and meant to be sipped), on the rocks (with a little ice) or mixed with water. That means vodka, gin, whiskey, and scotch are all fair game. It’s the clearer types of alcohol, however, that go easier on the body. They also go easier on calories. One serving of vodka contains only 97 calories and zero carbs, while a serving of gin has about 110 calories and zero carbs. Whiskey and Scotch actually have some flavor though, and for the most part, they stick within the caloric range of gin and vodka.
Although liquor served neat or on the rocks usually comes as a double shot, the whole point is to drink them moderately. That way, you don’t finish it right away, and then look for whatever is next. Drinking them like this also avoids caloric mixers like ginger ale or pineapple juice. Even though they taste really good, one serving of pineapple juice adds on an extra 133 calories and 32 grams of carbs, while ginger ale has 124 calories and also 32 grams of carbs — and those are on the low end of mixers.
If you like wine
Wine is a pretty healthy alternative to hard liquor — it’s also much tastier if you’re not used to them. Although a 5-ounce serving may be a slightly heftier 100 to 150 calories, and about 5 grams of carbs. Essentially, drinking healthily is a tradeoff. For a few extra calories and carbs, wine has a few proven health benefits, which are believed to come from high concentrations of the antioxidant resveratrol. Studies have shown that the antioxidant may be able to lower bad cholesterol while boosting good cholesterol, as well as reduce the risk of depression, cancer, and diabetes.
If you drink beer:
If wine, hard liquor, and abstinence are out of the question, then light beer is going to do some justice. Miller Light has only 96 calories and 3.2 grams of carbs; Bud Light has 110 calories and 6.6 grams of carbs; and Coors Light has 104 calories and 5.3 grams of carbs.
These beers are great for being healthy, but will you really only drink one of two? With lower calories and carbs, they also come with lower alcohol contents, which may cause you drink more to get drunk — a balance any beer drinker might want to think about.
If you’re going to try to avoid light beers and still be healthy, Guinness and other stouts are a good option. More often than not, stouts are made with whole grains, which give them their darker, caramel flavor. Compared to a lager, both have vitamins B12 and soluble fiber, but only stouts have antioxidants. Some evidence even suggests these antioxidants can have the same health benefits as wine, by reducing the risk of blood clots and other heart problems.
Healthy Holiday Cocktails to make
Jazz up your holiday offerings this year with a Cranberry Cosmopolitan – cranberries are a seasonal powerhouse protecting against urinary tract infections as well as being an excellent source of Vitamin C, manganese, and other phytonutrients called flavonoids. These powerful antioxidants help maintain cell structure and eliminate “free radicals” (aka: toxins) from the body.
Ingredients: 1/2 cup Cranberry Liqueur, 1/4 cup Cointreau, 2 tablespoons lime juice. Mix with 1 cup crushed ice; strain into martini glass. Makes 2 cocktails.
Blood Orange Sangria
- 2 cups sliced strawberries
- 2 cups apple juice
- 2/3 cup Triple Sec (orange-flavored liqueur)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 4 whole cloves
- 3 seedless blood oranges, each cut into 16 wedges
- 2 (750-milliliter) bottles fruity red wine
- 2 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
- 1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges
- 1 lime, cut into 8 wedges
Preparation: Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher, and stir until sugar dissolves. Cover and chill 8 hours or overnight. Discard cloves and cinnamon sticks. Pour sangría into individual glasses, including the fruit.
- 1/4 cup whipping cream
- 1/2 cup Irish whiskey, divided
- 1/4 cup sugar, divided
- 4 cups strong coffee, divided
- 1. Place 1/4 cup whipping cream in a medium bowl. Beat with a mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form.
- Heat 6 mugs by running under very hot water; dry with paper towels.
- Pour about 4 teaspoons whiskey into each glass. Add 2 teaspoons sugar to each serving; add 2/3 cup coffee, stirring until sugar dissolves. Top each serving with about 1 1/2 tablespoons whipped cream (do not stir).
- 3 1/2 cups 1% low-fat milk
- 1/2 cup fat-free sweetened condensed milk
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon grated whole nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1/4 cup bourbon
- 2 tablespoons brandy
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Additional grated whole nutmeg (optional
1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly with a whisk. Place egg yolks in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk one-third of hot milk mixture into egg yolks. Add yolk mixture to remaining hot milk mixture, stirring with a whisk. Cook over medium heat 1 minute or until slightly thickened. Pour into a pitcher; stir in bourbon, brandy, and vanilla.
2. Cover surface of eggnog with wax paper; refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. Garnish with additional nutmeg, if desired.