Holiday Beverages…Holy Calories!

The holiday season, from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day, is one that is often filled with food, food and more food. We all know that it can be a calorie minefield. There are parties, family meals, and the seemingly all-day dessert and high calorie snack buffets camped out on many a kitchen table or counter. We are inundated with so many temptations to knock us off of our healthy eating strategies. Some of us jump right in and don’t look back. The holiday food smorgasbord is fine! Others take more of the middle road, while those whose willpower never takes a holiday, stay on their healthy diet track. We all choose a path and we all face the consequences.

Many, but not all, of us are pretty well versed about which often-delectable concoctions are high in calories, fat and more items. I’ve discussed this before and offered tips to avoid the holiday bulge that can suddenly appear from our abdomens in early January, just like the creature from the movie ALIEN. But I’m not talking about the most overt culprit, the food. For more than a few, there’s an overlooked culprit. If it’s not the food, what is it, you ask? What resides in a cup, a can, a mug, a glass, a jug and a bottle? You got it. It’s the beverage.

Because it’s that time of year, I’ve been to many a holiday party and hosted a few of my own. I’ve seen all of the typical seasonal drinks being offered and I’ve seen many revelers throw back quite a few. And it’s a caused me a shudder or two. Because I’ve seen so many consume more calories than they need in a day through just the beverages they’ve drunk. And this isn’t even all the liquids imbibed in a whole day. Sometimes it’s just in a meal or in a couple of hours at a party. And so many of us don’t even think about it or know what we’re drinking. After all, it’s just the beverage, right?

It’s far easier to drink our calories that many of us think. And during the holiday season, the opportunities abound. Let’s take a look at the calorie content of some of the classic beverages making the rounds at this time of the year.


Non-alcoholic Eggnog – One cup (8 ounces) has approximately 343 calories

Alcoholic Eggnog – One cup has about 406 grams of fat

Apple Cider – One cup has about 117 calories

Hot Chocolate – One cup without marshmallows/whipped cream can contain as much as 200 calories.


Have you had any of the above drinks recently? Have you only had one cup (8 ounces) worth? Did you consume only one serving? Think about it.

Now we can certainly make and buy lighter versions of the above beverages. I’m a huge hot chocolate fan, but I drink diet hot cocoa from a mix (Swiss Miss). It’s an envelope with powder to which I add water, mix and enjoy. It has 25 calories. But there’s something about the holidays that bring out the calories and that includes our beverages. So, be careful there.

More than a few of us tend to loosen up in general in what we eat and drink during celebratory periods. I was surprised to see a friend of mine who usually drinks diet soda (0 calories) instead opt for a regular soda (140 calories in 12 ounce can.) Why, I don’t know. And let’s not forget alcoholic beverages like wine (about 125 calories) and regular beer (averaged out at about 153 calories in 12 ounces). What about mixed drinks that contain sugary mixes like margaritas and creamy drinks like Irish coffee?  There’s over 200 calories in Irish coffee.

Water has zero calories. So does tea and coffee, with no added sugar or cream. We can be low to moderate in our beverage calories. And this is a good idea. Even during the holidays, moderation is a good way to go. Is that what you’re doing?


Visit Lisa Tillinger Johansen at, on Facebook at Lisa Tillinger Johansen and on Twitter @LisaTJohansen.



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