To Avoid Holiday Weight Gain, Don’t Drink Your Calories

holiday weight gain

Do you know one easy way to avoid holiday weight gain? Know the calories of what you are drinking.

I admit it.  I have a Starbucks addiction.  Most of the staff at the Aiken Starbucks store know me by first name and greet me when I come in.  They even know my beverage of choice without my telling them: a grande Coconut Milk Latte with one stevia. Check out the calories for several of their popular holiday drinks.  

Toasted White Chocolate Mocha (grande) 420 calories and 56 grams sugar

Eggnog Latte (grande) 450 calories and 52 grams sugar

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate (grande) 490 calories and 65 grams sugar

Peppermint Mocha Frappuccino (grande) 450 calories and 62 grams sugar

Each of these drinks contains almost one-fourth of the calories in a standard 2000-calorie daily diet for Americans, and much more sugar than is ideal.  Believe me, I am not picking on Starbucks.  I love their drinks, but if this is your daily fare, it is no wonder that the average American gains a pound over the holiday season. 

Other High Calorie Beverages

For those who attend a holiday party, it can be easy to drink 600 or more calories during the evening.  Margaritas average 254 calories and whiskey sours average 240 calories.  

Do you like sweet iced tea?  It is THE Southern drink, after all.  When I was growing up, my mom made tea with two family sized tea bags in a half gallon of water to which she added one cup of sugar.  I bet this is the recipe that most of you know for making sweet tea.  Well, one cup of sugar equals 48 teaspoons, so if you drink only eight ounces of iced tea (and who can drink this little on a hot summer day?), you will have six teaspoons of sugar!  This is the maximum suggested amount of added sugar per day for a female. 

Or how about a cold Coca-Cola, or my daughter’s drink of choice, a Dr. Pepper? These both have 40 grams of sugar (10 teaspoons) in a 12-ounce can.  That is more than the maximum amount of added sugar suggested for males.  

 Maybe we should figure out some alternatives to these beverages that don’t have so much added sugar and calories.  

Tips to Lower Beverage Calories

  • Use stevia as a sweetener.  You can still drink your sweet iced tea or coffee, but use stevia as a sweetener.  Stevia is a natural sweetener made from a plant with no artificial chemicals.  The brand that I use is Sweetleaf and it is available in the natural foods section of Kroger.  
  • Drink water.  Our body needs water for a multitude of processes and many of us go around dehydrated much of the time.  Add some lemon, lime or mint if you like extra flavor.
  • Drink mineral water.  This is my drink of choice when I want the fizz that we get from sodas.  I usually add lemon or lime, but you can also add a small amount of the juice of your choice to your mineral water for a lower sugar option.  
  • Drink your probiotics.  Fermented drinks such as kefir (made with milk), kombucha (made with tea), or Kevita (made with coconut water), are very low in sugar and also have the good bacteria that our intestines need.  A 16 oz. bottle of Kevita only has 2 grams of sugar (a half-teaspoon).  These are available in the natural foods section of your local grocery stores. They are more expensive, but if you find you like these drinks, you can also make them yourself at home.  I have made Kombucha before and currently hope to make water kefir.  
  • Drink one (maximum two) lower calorie alcoholic beverages at parties.  Choose red wine (125 calories) or a vodka with seltzer water (95 calories) instead of higher calorie mixed drinks.  If beer is your preferred beverage, then choose a light version.  My husband’s favorite Michelob Ultra has only 95 calories in a 12-ounce bottle.  Even better is a sparkling water with a twist of lemon or lime, with zero calories.  

Why not save your calories for an occasional food treat and avoid the holiday weight gain? I checked online and found my favorite Starbucks drink has 190 calories.  I think I will order a plain coffee next time and just use a splash of coconut milk to reduce my calories and sugar!

Visit the Recipes section of my site and find a few low sugar treat and dessert options. What are your favorite lower calorie drink options? Leave a comment below.

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