Liquid calories and carbs may be a one way to pack on the pounds and spike your blood glucose, but that doesn’t mean you can’t toast to your health with delicious lightened holiday drinks and mocktails. Here are some of my festive faves and a few strategies to keep all those glasses of holiday cheer from weighing you down.
The problem is that most mixers and sodas pile on excess calories and carbohydrates, and, if you choose to drink alcohol, keep in mind that liquor adds calories with little nutrition. What’s worse is that drinking our calories rarely fills us up the way eating does. Many people don’t compensate for their liquid calories, and they fail to restrict their eating at the next meal. Drinking only water will solve the problem, of course, but it doesn’t feel very festive, especially during this time of year. My suggestion is to alternate calorie-containing beverages with calorie-free drinks or nutrient-packed tomato or vegetable juice (50 calories, 10 g carbohydrate/8-ounce serving). When I do choose to have an alcoholic or calorie-containing drink, I’m careful not to top off my glass. That way I can keep track of how much I’m drinking.
Consider trying – and serving – a few of my holiday favorites:
Soy nog. Trade in traditional eggnog with its approximately 340 calories and eleven grams of saturated fat per cup, for a glass of soy nog that rings in at only about 180 calories and has no saturated fat. Both sorts of eggnog do contain carbs, usually ranging from thirty to thirty-four grams per cup serving, so be sure to include that into your meal plan.
Flavored seltzer water. Seltzer is just plain water that’s been carbonated. I prefer it to club soda, which has added minerals, and thus sometimes has a salty or mineral-y taste. Squeeze lime into your seltzer and garnish with fresh mint for a no-calorie, no-carb treat that looks pretty. Or mix seltzer with your favorite juice – just remember to count the carbs from the juice. A favorite at my house is seltzer water with a splash of cranberry juice and a few fresh berries dropped into the glass.
Mock (or Virgin) Bloody Mary. Treat yourself to a serving of vegetables in a glass. Start with tomato juice and add a squeeze of lemon, Worcestershire sauce, and hot pepper sauce (add horseradish if you like!). Stir it up with a celery stick for a satisfying crunch.
Spiced apple cider. Simmer apple cider with cinnamon, cloves, and allspice, and enjoy a half-cup serving. You do need to include the carbs from the cider in your total for the day, but this drink has the bonus of filling your home with a festive holiday scent.
Mock sangria. Ditch the wine and sugary soda in favor of fruit juice and diet ginger ale. Don’t forget the fresh berries and orange and apple slices. Ensure you add in the carbs to your daily count.
Sparkling punch. Pour sparkling grape juice and diet lemon-lime soda into a punch bowl and float fresh orange slices and mint leaves for a festive liquid treat, making sure it fits into your meal plan.
Each of these lightened beverages is more festive when served in a wine or champagne glass and given a fun name such as Winter Wonderland or Santa’s Holiday Sparkler. Garnishing your drink with a cinnamon stick or a toothpick threaded with fruit adds to the holiday feel.
One final favorite of mine that feels perfect for nighttime during this cooler time of the year is steamed milk. I heat a cup of skim or 1% milk, add a touch of sweetener and vanilla extract, and finish it with a sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg. I find it warms me inside and out.
Jill Weisenberger, MS, RD, CDE*, is the author of Diabetes Weight Loss Week by Week, contributing editor for Environmental Nutrition, and has written for many publications including EatingWell, Diabetic Living, Her Sports + Fitness, and LifeScript. Weisenberger is a paid contributor for The DX. All opinions contained in this article reflect those of the contributor, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies, or affiliates.
*“Certified Diabetes Educator” and “CDE” are certification marks owned and registered by the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators (NCBDE). NCBDE is not affiliated in any way with Sanofi US. NCBDE does not sponsor or endorse any diabetes-related products or services.
© 2013 The DX: The Diabetes Experience