By David Zinczenko, ABC News Nutrition and Wellness Editor
Prohibiting a vice only makes it that much more tempting, as any fan of “Boardwalk Empire” can attest. So when it comes to your weight, trying to lose by cutting the booze at holiday time is a tough tack to take. Everyone’s got a bottle they’d like to share with you to celebrate the season.
And consuming in a moderate way (think Wise Men, not “Mad Men”) can actually be good for you. Moderate alcohol consumption can actually reduce your risk of developing heart disease, gallstones and possibly diabetes, according to the Mayo Clinic. But if you do partake, don’t just watch the booze — watch the package it comes in. Many holiday drinks can bring on not only a buzz, but a belly. Here’s what to drink — and what to rethink — when the bar is open and “Jingle Bell Rock” is on auto replay.
If you‘re looking for a special holiday treat:
Drink It: Hot Toddy. 145 calories
Rethink It: Eggnog. 400 calories
While a nice foamy glass of rum and raw eggs sounds delicious (if you’re a pirate training for a boxing match), it’s also 400 calories. A traditional mix of brandy or whiskey, hot tea, lemon, and honey that averages only 145 calories means that just two drinks of a Hot Toddy at a holiday party could save you 510 calories — that’s more than a half rack of Chili’s baby back ribs.
Holiday Party Survival Guide: 4 Swaps to Save 1,000+ Calories
If you‘re looking for something creamy:
Drink It: Kahlua and Coffee. 142 calories
Rethink It: White Russian. 390 calories
The cream alone in a white Russian provides 234 calories and 23 grams of fat. While that extra layer of fat will keep you warm in the winter, if you’d like to wear a bathing suit come summer, I suggest skipping this one. Kahlua is a great cold-weather go-to at only 91 calories per ounce. When coupled with hot or iced coffee and milk, you’ve got a cocktail under 200 calories.
If you love margaritas:
Drink It: Margarita on the rocks. 153 calories
Rethink It: Frozen margarita. 750 calories
Many an office Christmas party has been thrown at a Mexican restaurant, because it’s the one food almost everyone can agree on. But what comes out of those frozen margarita dispensers is more like a liquid Starburst than anything a grownup should drink. A proper margarita is just tequila, lime juice, and Cointreau or Triple Sec, and weighs in at a mere 153 calories. Jimmy Buffet would be proud.
If you want a low-calorie beer:
Drink It: Guinness stout 125 calories
Rethink It: Lite beer, about 100 calories
While lite beer will save you a few extra calories, it’s not enough to make up for the additional minerals and vitamins you’ll get in a glass of Guinness stout. And if you like dark beers, Guinness can save you more than 100 calories over many specialty winter brews.
David Zinczenko is ABC News Nutrition and Wellness Editor and the author of “Eat It to Beat It!” To discover more hidden sources of sugar, and how to lose weight by skipping other ingredients in our everyday food, check out “Eat It to Beat It!” here.