2. Don’t Drink Your Calories
Calories consumed from beverages can add up quickly and cause unwanted weight gain. Most beverages provide little to no fiber or protein (other than milk) so they do not keep you feeling full for very long. An 8 fl oz. glass of apple juice has an average of 120 calories and 0 grams of fiber, whereas a medium sized 5.5 oz. apple has 70 calories and about 3.5 grams of fiber. The whole apple would keep you full longer and have fewer calories and, therefore, would be a better choice than the glass of apple juice. If you choose to have juice in the mornings, limit yourself to a 6-8 fl oz. serving of 100% fruit juice. Low fat dairy milk, soy milk or almond milk are acceptable caloric beverages to consume in moderation as these provide good sources of calcium, vitamin D and protein for not too many calories. Limit consumption of dairy including milk, yogurt and cheese to three fat-free or low-fat servings per day.
Rich hot chocolate and specialty coffee drinks can be a major source of excess calories during the colder winter months. The key to cutting calories on your specialty coffee favorites is to ask for a small serving size made with skim milk, no whipped cream and sugar-free syrup, if available. A 12 fl oz. tall Starbucks Gingerbread Latte made with 2% milk and topped with whipped cream has 260 calories. You can save 110 calories by order the “skinny” version of this drink made with skim milk and leaving out the whipped cream. Those small savings in calories can go a long way!
Alcoholic beverages consumed in excess can also cause unwanted weight gain due to their high caloric content. One gram of alcohol contains 7 calories, whereas 1 gram of carbohydrates or 1 gram of protein contains 4 calories. One alcoholic beverage is equivalent to 5 fl oz. wine, 12 fl oz. beer, or 1.5 fl oz. (1 shot) of 80 proof liquor. This means a 12 fl oz. can of Bud Light with 12 grams of alcohol and 6.6 grams of carbs has 110 calories (12 grams alcohol x 7 calories per gram and 6.6 grams carbs x 4 calories per gram), a 5 fl oz. glass of red cabernet wine with 5.5 grams carbs and 15.2 grams alcohol has 127 calories, and 1 shot of vodka (minus the sugary mixer) with 14.9 grams alcohol has 103 calories. An 8 fl oz. serving of alcoholic Holiday egg nog can have as much as 400 calories! As you can imagine, calories will add up fast if you’re consuming a few alcoholic beverages plus the food at that holiday meal. The recommended limits for alcoholic are no more than 2 alcoholic beverages per day for men and no more than 1 alcoholic beverage per day for women.
Try to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Most people need 64 fl oz. of water per day. Try meeting your fluid needs through water by keeping a reusable bottle of water on hand to remind you to drink enough water throughout the day, or by placing four individual 16 fl oz. disposable water bottles in your refrigerator each day and drink all four by the end of the day. Be sure to drink water before, during and after exercise. If you exercise strenuously for 1 hour or longer or exercise in extreme heat like Bikram yoga, you may need to replace the electrolytes lost through sweat by consuming sports drinks during your winter workout.
Stay tuned for part 3…
Jenny Cooper, RD, LDN
Hi! It’s Joy!
About 8 years ago I realized that I was consuming a lot of extra calories in my drinks. I used to love soda (approximately 120 calories in a can) and who doesn’t love a cherry slush from Sonic Drive-In (170-620 calories depending on size) or limeade (110-370 calories) or better yet a cream slush (390-600 calories). This realization caused me to change my ways and I began drinking only water and coffee, of course. When I have coffee I use fat free creamer and a small amount of sugar which has anywhere from 50 to 100 calories depending on the amount. This is my daily indulgence that I do not have to feel guilty about since I am drinking water the rest of the day. Now since moving to Italy I do have wine with dinner on many evenings, but even then try to limit it to one 4 oz. glass.
Jenny mentioned glorious Starbucks, which I do miss dearly, where my drink of choice is a tall (12 oz.) skinny vanilla latte (90 calories). You can even order drinks in a short size (8 oz.). It is actually the perfect amount for me. It gives me that little boost I need for the day or the afternoon You can see a list of Starbucks drinks that are under 200 calories here.
Unfortunately there are no Starbucks here in Italy, but we do have awesome Italian espresso and cappuccinos. The Italians do not do large drinks so I do not feel guilty when ordering a cappuccino which is only about 8 oz. They are really good too and definitely better than Starbucks’. They do not do flavored coffees though so I will just dream of the day I can once again enjoy my yummy skinny vanilla latte.
Fruit juices are another way that we often consume too many calories and by choosing fruit instead we stay fuller longer and with fewer calories. My sister-in-law introduced me to the most delicious fruit dip ~ low fat vanilla yogurt! That’s it, nothing else. Just yogurt and fruit. I like to make fruit salad with chopped fruit of my choice and mix in some low fat vanilla yogurt. It is really good and healthy. Jenny recommends that we get 3 servings of dairy a day and low fat yogurt is a great source. I really like the Yoglait French Vanilla flavor.
Figure Friendly Fruit Dip/Salad
- fruit of your choice
- low fat vanilla yogurt (a little goes a long way)
- you can also add some granola to give it a nice crunch.
If you prefer organic, Stonyfield is a good choice as well.
I hope these tips will help you to avoid weight gain during the holidays. I don’t know about you, but extra pounds and debt are two things that I do not want following me into 2012!