By: Katie McCollum MS, RD, LDN

The holiday season has a reputation for indulgence. We often focus our attention (and willpower) on being mindful of the foods we eat, but it is easy to forget how quickly the calories we drink can add up. Check out the tips below to help you re-think your holiday drink. 

1. Hit your mark. Our bodies are about 60% water and every system depends on it.  Aim to get 64 ounces of water daily to maintain adequate hydration and proper health. Having a hard time? Always carry a water bottle with you, or use alarms or reminders, to help you remember to drink. One of our favorite apps is Plant Nanny.

2. Flavor-flav. Add fruits and herbs to water or seltzer water in a large pitcher to make it more enticing.  Make sure herbs are crushed and fruit is cut to allow maximum absorption.

*Cinnamon apple- sliced apples with 5 whole cinnamon sticks

*Sangria- 4 cups grapes, 3 thinly sliced blood oranges, and 2 cored and sliced apples 

*Pear-fect ginger- 5 cored and sliced pears with 10 thinly sliced, fresh ginger 

*Cherries jubilee- 2 cups pitted and halved cherries, 3 thinly sliced lemons, 2 gently crushed vanilla beans or ⅛  vanilla tsp extract 

*Slightly spicy- 2 thinly sliced cucumbers with 2 seeded and sliced jalapenos  

*Plum yum- 2 scrunched, fresh sage leaves, 10 pitted and quartered plums, and 2 pitted and sliced peaches 

*Berry-licious- 2 cups raspberries with 2 cups blackberries

3. Eat your water. Include more fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products in your day to increase dietary water. Fat-free milk, cantaloupe, strawberries, watermelon, lettuces, cabbage, celery, spinach, pickles, and cooked squash are 90-99% water!

4. Be equal parts naughty and nice.  Alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic drinks. After finishing a cocktail, drink a glass of water before your next drink. Drinking water throughout your evenings will help you reduce calories from alcohol and keep you alert and hydrated for the morning! 

5. Calorie conscious. Choose a drink with calorie content in mind. When out for fun night with friends, customize your drink just like you would your meal. For example, mix your cocktails with seltzer water, club soda, or low calories juices, or choose low-calorie liquor brands like “Skinny Girl.” When ordering your favorite hot beverage from a coffee shop, ask for skim milk or less syrup. 

6. Skip the mixer. Order your drink “on the rocks” to eliminate added calories from a mixer. Flavored liquors allow you to get the taste of a sweetener without adding calories. 

7. All about the bubbly. Diluting your alcoholic beverage with sparkling water or club soda will also help save calories.  Experiment with a wine seltzer or vodka seltzer and add a fruit garnish instead of fruit juice.  

8. Work it out. Staying active during the holiday is important for meeting your health goals. Water helps muscles remove waste like lactic acid, so they can work more efficiently. Make sure to drink water before, during, and after exercise. The amount you need will be determined by losses that occur during exercise.  

9. Yellow sNOw. When properly hydrated, urine should be pale yellow in color. Keep in mind the color of urine will dilute when it hits the toilet water but beware of dark yellow urine as it may indicate dehydration.

10. Savvy swaps.  These easy swaps will help you enjoy your favorite holiday drink with less calories and sugar. 

*Eggnog (whole milk, heavy cream, and sugar)- replace whole milk with skim milk or non-fat milk, cut the sugar amount in half (instead of 1 cup try ½ cup), replace heavy cream with fat-free half and half 

*Mulled wine (red wine, spices, and sugar)- swap white sugar for honey as a more natural sweetener (honey still has 20 calories per teaspoon and will raise blood sugar like white sugar does, but raw honey offers B-vitamins and some minerals) 

*Sangria (fruit juices, sugar, and wine)- swap for wine spritzer- try white wine with seltzer water then garnish with cranberries or orange slices to make it festive  

*Poinsettia (vodka, champagne, and cherry juice)- swap champagne for seltzer water to keep the bubbles and reduce the calories, choose 100% juice instead of a juice cocktail 

*Bailey’s Irish Cream (cream-based liquor, coffee, and cream)- go heavy on the coffee and light on the cream, sub Bailey’s for plain whiskey (less sugar, fat, and calories), try skim or low-fat instead of cream, swamp sugar for honey to sweeten 

*Mimosa (orange juice and champagne)- try ½ champagne and ½ seltzer to reduce calories from alcohol, choose 100% orange juice  


Challenge: Rethink your holiday drink! Commit to one of the 10 tips each day this week.   

Tip: It may be helpful to track your progress on paper or with a picture and share with your provider at your next visit to stay on track with meeting your holiday health goals.