Nothing makes the holidays more enchanting than cozying up with a warm cup of your favorite holiday beverage. Many people who are trying to watch their weight dread the holidays as they have to come face to face with an abundance of delicious foods and desserts. However, being mindful about the drinks you drink is just as important as being mindful about the foods you eat when it comes to staying healthy during the holidays. What makes beverages like hot cocoa and eggnog so enjoyable is that they are best enjoyed during the cold winter weather. There is no reason why you have to give up your favorite holiday drinks completely.Here are the five most common holiday beverages and tips on how you can healthfully incorporate these drinks into your holiday fun:1. Hot Chocolate: Whether you top it off with whipped cream or a handful of mini marshmallows, it is almost required to have a cup of hot cocoa in your hand while cozying up by the fire. If you order hot cocoa from a restaurant or coffee shop, always ask for it to be made with fat free or low fat milk, and skip the whipped cream. To make instant hot chocolate at home, look for packages that are low fat/fat free or low sugar/sugar free and use low fat or fat free milk. If you like your hot cocoa with a topping, add a dollop of light whipped cream (~ 1 tablespoon) or use 5-8 mini marshmallows.
2. Eggnog: Eggnog is a heavy holiday drink made with whole fat milk, heavy cream, whipped eggs, sugar and sometimes spirits such as bourbon, rum or brandy – that’s a lot of calories in your glass! If you’re an eggnog fan, enjoy a healthier version of this drink by filling half to three-quarters of your glass with low fat or fat free milk and the rest with eggnog. You can also reduce the calorie content by requesting your eggnog without the alcohol. There are also a lot of low fat versions of this holiday classic sold in your supermarket.3. Apple Cider: Apple cider is often preferable to apple juice because it holds onto some of the fiber content of the apple. However, it is still a drink that is loaded with added sugar, so read the label and look for low sugar options. Apple cider is a very sweet drink, so satisfy yourself with just a little bit, or cut it with a little bit of water. If you have the time, try to make apple cider at home by using 100% apple juice and a variety of spices like cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg and cranberries. You’ll enjoy the flavor without the extra calories and sugar!4. Coffee Shop Lattes: This is an important one, as it is tempting to trade in your morning coffee or tea for a tantalizing “limited time” holiday latte often high in calories and sugar. I would recommend only treating yourself to one of these special drinks. There is nothing wrong with allowing yourself to indulge if it’s something you really enjoy, but I wouldn’t suggest making it an everyday purchase. Choose the small size and request it be made with fat free or low fat milk. Check out the display board with nutrition information and choose the “limited edition” drink that is lower in calories.
5. Cocktails: The holidays are a time to eat, drink and be merry, which is where cocktails become an important part of many holiday get-togethers. If you choose to forego alcohol this holiday season, you can still serve your favorite cocktails as non-alcoholic beverages. If there’s no way you are saying “no” to a cocktail, limit it to 1-2 drinks and have a glass of water in between. Always have a designated driver if you plan to drink alcohol at your holiday party.Holiday beverages are a fun part of the celebrations. Continue to enjoy them, just make smart choices. You’ll be happy you did.
Bonnie R. Giller is the Founder of DietFreeZone .com. She helps chronic dieters break free from the pain of dieting and get the healthy body they love by giving them the 3 things they really need to succeed – a healthy mindset, caring support and nutrition education. Get a free copy of her e-book 5 Steps to a Body You Love Without Dieting at DietFreeZone .com.