Dec. 19--Toasting family and friends with a glass of wine or some other alcoholic drink in December can lead to an extra few unwanted pounds in January.
What many people fail to realize -- or simply choose to ignore -- is that those festive holiday coffee drinks and seasonal spirits are chock-full of calories. Even wine isn't calorie-free.
"Some of the richer drinks we associate with Christmas, like eggnog and drinks made with cream, can get us in trouble," said Connie Holt, a registered dietitian and associate professor of the School of Hospitality Management at Widener University in Pennsylvania. "Plus, we tend to drink larger amounts during the holidays as well."
From eggnog lattes to holiday ice-cream shakes and Bailey's Irish Cream, all
it takes is a few gulps to add hundreds of calories to an already-overloaded diet.
"Because of the alcohol content in many of these holiday drinks, it's easier to lose track of how much you are consuming," Holt said. "My advice to people is to eat something before you go out. If you eat a little something like cheese and crackers or peanut butter crackers or even drink a glass of milk, there is at least something in your stomach."
Warm coffee drinks loaded with sugar and whipped cream also can really pack the pounds.
"I would like to say I only gain a few pounds in December and January, but I would be lying," said Jessica Lujan, who wiped the cream off her lips from a caramel br lee latte from an East Side Starbucks. "It's enough with
the food and the drinks, then you add this yummy specialty coffee in the mornings, it really adds up."
Lujan said she pays for it in mid-January and early February. "I don't even bother stepping on the scale," she said.
"But you know what? It's the holidays -- so why not?"
According to the nutritional information provided on the Starbucks website, a tall caramel br lee latte contains 370 calories, more than your average Christmas cookie.
"You can get a very nutritious drink from coffee places if you order lattes made with skim milk," dietitian Holt said. "The only problem with that is, it usually comes with a huge dollop of whipped cream on top. I just flip the whipped cream off, but most people can't do that -- it's very difficult to do."
Holt said low-fat beverages are available, and it's up to us as consumers to make those decisions.
She said another problem is having an overzealous host at dinner parties.
"People tend to refill their glasses before they're empty, so you're unable to keep track of how many drinks you've had," she said. "I was just at a party where the host came around with a bottle and filled every glass as he went along the way. After a couple of times you lose track of how many glasses you had
and the next thing you know, you can really feel it and it's only 8 o'clock. Then it's time to head for the coffee."
She said to find a happy medium between eating and drinking your calories.
"I would say moderation in both," Holt said. "It's best if you can actually think about and make your decisions before you go out to a party. If you want a glass of eggnog, then before you get to the party, have something in your stomach. After that, get a drink of water. This will help fill your stomach, leaving less room to overindulge."
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