Rethink Your Drink This Holiday Season

By Lillian D. Rozanski, Sports and Fitness Dietitian, Thibodaux Regional Health System

During the holiday season, “Making spirits bright” often involves alcoholic spirits. Those Christmas and New Year’s cocktails, beer, and wine contribute hundreds of empty calories to your waistline—in addition to safety concerns associated with too much alcohol. Stay smart while you celebrate, and review these helpful tips before your next party.

The Downside of Too Much

You’re probably aware that drinking too much alcohol can decrease inhibitions; it’s easy to forget most cocktails are loaded with empty calories. This combination can result in losing control of how much you eat.

The Calorie Lowdown

Since the Dietary Guidelines recommend a maximum of one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men, it’s important to understand what constitutes one drink.

One drink is

  • 5 fluid ounces of wine
  • 12 fluid ounces of beer
  • 1.5 fluid ounces of 80-proof hard alcohol (like gin, vodka, or whiskey)

Each of these drink servings has about 100 – 150 calories.

During the holiday season, people often ignore these guidelines in spite of the consequences. Studies have shown that too much alcohol increases the risk of health conditions including cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, and osteoporosis.

Sobering Strategies

Here are a few tips to follow at your next holiday party:

  1. Don’t drink on an empty stomach; the alcohol will hit you too quickly. Eat something before you leave the house.
  2. Throughout the party, snack on healthy appetizers. Scout the room before you start drinking and locate the healthier options (like veggies) that you can munch.
  3. Avoid mixed cocktails, which are typically loaded with sugar and calories. Stick to a single glass of wine or a bottle of beer instead.
  4. Alternate alcoholic beverages with non-alcoholic, low-calorie choices like water, seltzer, or diet soda.
  5. Of course, never mix drinking and driving. Remember, you don’t need to be completely drunk to hit the legal limit: buzzed driving is drunk driving.