Alcoholic drinks

Enjoy Christmas Drinks without Piling on the Pounds

By Dietitian Juliette Kellow BSc RD

With numerous parties, lunches, nights out and evenings in with family and friends, it's easy to consume vast amounts of alcohol during the festive season. But while plenty of booze will help social events go with a swing, it won't do much to keep your waistline in shape. It's fine to enjoy a drink - just remember to choose sensibly and follow these tips.

  1. It's a favourite trick, but mix white wine with soda water or diet lemonade to make it last twice as long and half the calories. If you can't bear to dilute it, opt for a dry white or red wine as these contain fewer calories than sweeter wines. Half a bottle of red or dry white wine contains around 250 calories! You have been warned.  
  2. Beware of alcopops - they're loaded with calories and little else. And because they don't taste very alcoholic it's easy to drink large amounts of them. If you like the fruity flavour, add a dash of cordial or fruit juice to a wine and soda. Meanwhile, there are a few reduced-sugar alcopops now on the market so look out for these - although remember, they are still high in alcohol.  
  3. Follow in the footsteps of celebrities and enjoy a glass of bubbly. In general you drink less as it's served in smaller glasses and the bubbles can help fill you up. Allow 100 calories for a glass.  
  4. Most measures of spirits poured at home will be larger than those served in bars and pubs with the result that your drink will probably contain twice as many calories. If you're going to do a lot of entertaining at home, it's worth investing in a spirits measure so that you can measure out your favourite tipple. In the meantime, always pour spirits into the glass before adding ice or mixers, so you can see just how much alcohol you have.  
  5. It's the oldest trick in the book, but mix spirits with low-cal mixers such as diet cola, diet lemonade, slimline tonic or slimline bitter lemon. Allow around 50 calories for a single (25ml) shot with a diet mixer.  
  6. Steer clear of beer, lager and cider as they're loaded with calories. And the higher the alcohol content, the more calories they contain. For example, a pint of standard beer contains around 160 calories, whereas a bottle of strong lager can contain anywhere between 120-200 calories alone. Watch out, too, for trendy new ciders served in a pint glass with ice. They contain more than 200 calories per pint. 
  7. Beware of trendy wine bars. Many serve spirits in double measures (50ml) as the standard with the result that you get double the calories. Some pubs also serve 35ml measures of spirits rather than 25ml measures and so also contain more calories. Finally, watch out for huge wine glasses - some are so large that a glass of wine may actually be close to half a bottle.  
  8. Choose cocktails with care. As a guideline, avoid anything that's made with cream, coconut milk or syrupy juices - they're packed with calories. And remember that the more shots a cocktail contains, the higher its calorie value will be. Where possible, ask for diet mixers to be used and remember to sip slowly!  
  9. Avoid creamy liqueurs after dinner and instead have a single shot of brandy if you really fancy ending your meal in style. Most cream based liqueurs contain around 80-100 calories per 25ml measure compared with 50 calories in a brandy.  
  10. Remember that happy hours are designed to get you to drink more and keep you in the same place all night. Unfortunately, this means while the bar gains pounds, so do you as you indulge in far more drinks than you normally would. The key is not to give into temptation.  
  11. Finally, why not offer to drive from time to time over the festive season, so that you won't be able to drink anything other than low-cal diet drinks!

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