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Published on December 04, 2017

Don’t let your holiday cocktail tip the scaleDon’t let your holiday cocktail tip the scale

Eggnog. Wine. Mulled cider with rum. Winter warmers and holiday beers. Anyone for champagne?

It’s fun to celebrate with friends and family while sharing a glass of something special, but be aware of the sugar and alcohol content when you do, advises Nicole Cormier, a registered dietitian who owns Delicious Living Nutrition and is co-owner of The Local Juice + Pantry, both in Hyannis. She cautioned that sugar not only adds calories, but causes inflammation.

“My number one suggestion is to drink mindfully and choose when you enjoy drinking,” Cormier said.

One or two alcoholic drinks in a social setting can be beneficial to your health by reducing stress and making you feel connected to your community, she added.  But it’s important to know how your body reacts to alcohol, she said. Everyone is different, and your physical health plays a role.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, adult men should consume no more than two alcoholic drinks per day and adult women, no more than one. Pregnant women, recovering alcoholics, children, and people with certain medical conditions or taking drugs that interact with alcohol should not drink at all.

Just what is one drink? The CDC defines a drink as:

  • 12 ounces of beer with 5 percent alcohol content.
  • 5 ounces of wine with 12 percent alcohol.
  • 1.5 ounces (a jigger) of liquor with 40 percent alcohol (or 80 proof).

The CDC notes that while moderate alcohol consumption may lower some health risks, such as heart disease, more recent studies question this finding. According to an article in The Nutrition Source, an online publication of the Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health, “It’s safe to say that alcohol is both a tonic and a poison.” The article notes that while moderate drinking may help ward off Type 2 diabetes and gallstones, as well as lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, heavy drinking can harm the liver and heart and unborn children in the womb, raise the risk of breast and other cancers, contribute to depression and violence, and is implicated in a large share of fatal traffic accidents.

Cormier’s recommendations for smart holiday drinking:

  • Avoid sugary drinks. If you need a sweetener, use maple syrup or local honey.
  • Use cold-pressed juices that are dense in vitamins and minerals for mixers.
  • Instead of liquor, add flavor to cocktails with fresh fruit or herbs.
  • Substitute non-dairy ingredients, such as almond or coconut milk, for milk and cream.
  • Soda water with lemon or kombucha can be alternatives to alcoholic drinks.

Mallory Doolan, clinical dietitian at Falmouth Hospital, also advised avoiding sugary drinks.

“Calories can add up quickly in the holidays,” she said.

Eating while you’re drinking can help slow consumption, she added.

[RELATED: How to celebrate — and stay healthy — this holiday season]

“You don’t get that same feeling of fullness when you’re drinking your calories.”

Think about portion sizes, such as limiting your glass of eggnog to 4 to 8 ounces, instead of a tall glass, she suggested.

Doolan’s recommendations for smart holiday drinking:

  • Stay hydrated. “Satisfy your thirst before you drink (alcohol).”
  • Be aware of the quantities of calories and alcohol you’re consuming.
  • For beer drinkers, try sticking to light beer.

As far as calories go, here is a run-down, according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism:

  • 12 ounces of 5 percent ABV beer – 153 calories.
  • 12 ounces of light beer – 103 calories.
  • 5-ounce glass of wine, red – 125 calories; dry white – 121 calories; sweet white, -, 165 calories.
  • 4-ounce glass of champagne – 84 calories.
  • Jigger of 80 proof hard liquor – 98 calories; liqueur – 165 calories.

If you’re wondering how eggnog stacks up, Hood reports that a half-cup or just 4 ounces of its Golden Eggnog contains 180 calories (80 from fat), 9 grams of fat — of which 5 grams is saturated fat (26 percent of the daily recommendation), 65 mgs of cholesterol (21 percent of daily recommendation) and 21 grams of sugar.

And that’s before you add any rum or whiskey.

Cormier’s Holiday Drink Recipes

Almond Nog 

  • 3 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 3 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • ¼ tsp grated ginger root
  • 8 ice cubes
  • ¼ cup brandy, bourbon or rum, or to taste
  • Cinnamon sticks for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a blender until creamy. Serve in glasses with a dash of nutmeg and a cinnamon stick for garnish.

Cold-Pressed Juice Cocktails 

Fall Rita

  • 1 cup Special** (apple, pear, lemon ginger, cucumber juices and cardamom, cinnamon and maple) syrup
  • 2 oz tequila
  • Garnish with mint, apple slice and grated ginger root

Serve over ice

Gin & Juice 

  • 1 cup Flourish** (cucumber, apple and lemon juices, and mint)
  • 2 oz gin

Garnish with lemon, cucumber, mint and apple slice. Serve over ice

Cape Codder Harvest

  • ½ cup Harvest** (a blend of cranberry, apple, lemon and orange juices)
  • 1 cup soda water
  • 2 oz vodka

Garnish with cranberries and orange peel. Serve over ice.

** Available at The Local Juice