Holiday cocktails have a lot more calories than you might realize

Some holiday drinks and mixes can have more than 500 calories each.

Some holiday drinks and mixes can have more than 500 calories each.

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Tis the season! This is the time of year to look forward to. Expect to spend time with family and friends, holiday celebrations, shopping, decor and sightseeing.

This is also the time of year when a lot of people put on 7-10 pounds. We’re already dealing with trying to shed the COVID weight, and now we’re going to have sweets, candies, pies, cookies, and all the delicious holiday cocktails.

It seems like every holiday gathering includes an array of special holiday drinks. Some can have more than 500 calories each. Yikes!

This can put a huge impact on your daily allowance.

Studies have shown that liquid calories do not provide the same feeling of fullness as solid food. Liquid calories are easier and faster to consume and do not satiate hunger. So even though we may have already consumed 600 calories from the holiday cocktail, we’re still eating a lot more food than we would have if we hadn’t had the cocktail. Logical?

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And we all know what alcohol can do to our willpower. So if you’re really trying to prevent weight gain while on vacation, it may be worth paying attention to those drinks.

To put it in perspective, a cup of eggnog has 350-450 calories per cup. Add a dose of rum, and it’ll jump another 100 calories.

Shelves of buttered rum contain 350 calories, Kahlua and cream contain 355 calories, and holiday margaritas have 480 calories. Whew! We’re talking about an hour-and-a-half electric walk to burn just one holiday cocktail.

It’s usually the mixers that are causing you problems. Alcohol is pretty consistent in the amount of calories it contains. An ounce and a half (“dose”) of liquor contains 100 calories.

So let’s talk about some low-calorie alternatives to traditional holiday cocktails.

The simpler the better. How about a shot of cranberry vodka mixed with sparkling soda water and a bit of lime? Or a wine drink made with equal amounts of wine, sparkling water, and fresh raspberries. You may want to have a glass of cranberry and ginger juice mixed with vodka or rum. Or even a non-alcoholic cup of hot cider, containing only 120 calories. Sparkling apple and cranberry juice contains only 110 calories without alcohol.

And remember, non-alcoholic holiday drinks can be high in calories, too. A 16-ounce pumpkin spice latte contains 410 calories; Mocha mint contains 470 calories; One holiday fruit contains 235 calories; Hot chocolate with whipped cream, 320 calories.

If you enjoy milk and other coffee drinks, order them with skim milk or almond milk. Skip the whipped cream, chocolate drizzle, and candy sprinkles on top. Order fewer flavored syrups to reduce sugar and calories.

It’s not about depriving yourself of special holiday gifts—it’s about finding new ways to enjoy old favorites that won’t lead to regret on January 2.


Suzy Bond is a registered and licensed Dietitian / Dietitian in private practice. Contact her at

This article originally appeared on Florida Today: Holiday Cocktails Have Far More Calories Than You May Realize

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