Friday, November 18

Dear God, It’s Eggnog Season

Pumpkin spice lattes, peppermint mochas and eggnog, oh my!

As we welcome the season of thanks, we begin the most challenging time of year to maintain healthy habits.

Homemade goodies magically appear in the break room. Favorite recipes, handed down from generations, flood the buffet table. As if that wasn’t tempting enough, restaurants and bars whip out their holiday menus enticing us to “get in the spirit of the season” and “eat, drink and be merry” with their calorie-laden treats.

I’m all for eating, drinking and merriment, but the extra pounds that go with it, no thank you.

So, how do you survive without going up a pant size?

For starters, know thy enemy.

One of the season’s biggest calorie busters is beverages.

Picture this…you’re at the mall, shopping for gifts, feeling festive and joyful (or crabby and tired, depending on the crowds), either way what you really want is a little pick-me-up. Stopping in the local Starbucks you see their beautiful print ad for a peppermint mocha. Well, doesn’t that sound just perfect, you think. “Would you like whipped cream with that?” the cute little tattooed and pierced barrista asks.

“Why yes I would,” you reply. Why not, right? It’s the holidays.

You leave Starbucks, holding a steaming cup of peppermint goodness and wander down to Nordstrom to drool over their shoe inventory. Ah, pure bliss. Right?

Yes, except for the 470 calories you just ingested. Yup. A 16-oz peppermint mocha with all the trimming has almost as many calories and fat as a McDonald’s Quarter-pounder with cheese. (The quarter-pounder has 510 calories.)

Take a look at these holiday beverages and their calorie count.

Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino—470 calories and 13 grams of fat in a 16-ounce serving.
Hot Buttered Rum—418 calories and 17 grams of fat per serving.
Pumpkin Spice Latte—410 calories and 17 grams of fat per 16-ounce serving.
Eggnog—350 calories and 19 grams of fat per 8-ounce serving.
Hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps—380 calories

Yikes! So, what’s a good plan of attack?

1) Skip the eggnog, mochas and spice lattes altogether, which I realize is easy for me to say since I don’t like them anyway, but this is really your best option.

2) If the lattes are your traditional holiday indulgence, then at least make them skinny, e.g., order them with sugar-free syrups, nonfat milk and forego the whipped cream. For comparison, a 16-ounce skinny peppermint mocha has only 130 calories. That's much better than the 470 calories in the full-fat, full-sugar version.

3) Same goes for the eggnog, at least get the light version, although it really doesn’t help much.  It reduces the total calories to 280 per cup versus 350 for the full fat version. Your best bet here is to drink it sparingly.

4) Finally, if you are going to drink alcohol, skip the mixed drinks, instead choose light beer, red wine or a wine spritzer made with club soda. (A typical wine spritzer has only 100 calories.) 

The holidays don't have to sabotage your healthy habits. Arm yourself with information and continue to make good choices.

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