Sip It Or Skip It: Healthiest And Unhealthiest Holiday Drinks

This holiday season, our family and friends are held close and our plates tend to be filled with all of our favorite foods. Spending your calories wisely can be difficult, especially when some holiday drinks contain as many calories as a meal.

Choose Your Drinks Wisely

We spoke with nutritionists about how they avoid the holiday bulge by choosing the healthiest drinks and avoiding the high-sugar, hangover-inducing beverages.

Be Aware of Popular Holiday Beverages

We know that holiday beverages are comforting, especially after a long day of shopping or following hours of wrapping presents. Instead of reaching for your pre-packaged hot chocolate, make your own from scratch using a few simple ingredients. Holiday eggnog may be a tradition with your family that you can't avoid, but you can make it lighter by using non-fat ingredients and reducing the amount of sugar. 

Healthiest: Apple Cider

"Check the ingredients, as long as it only has only apples, it is a holiday treat with little sugar and no fat or cholesterol," said Scott Schreiber, certified nutrition specialist and licensed dietitian nutritionist.

Healthiest: Champagne

"Some champagne varieties contain the least amount of added sugar," said Tory Tedrow, registered dietitian from SugarChecked. "A four ounce flute contains about 100 calories."

Healthiest: Ginger Kombucha

This spicy health drink is perfect for the holidays. "Kombucha contains probiotics, vitamins, and minerals," Schreiber said. "Ginger is great for an upset stomach and aids with digestion. Kombucha has been touted as a health tonic."

Healthiest: Hot Chocolate

Using just three ingredients can go a long way when making a delicious cup of hot cocoa. Use warmed almond milk, unsweetened cocoa powder, and stevia to make your holiday beverages nutritionist approved.

Healthiest: Hot Toddy

This drink combines lemon, honey, cinnamon, cloves, and brandy which adds up to only 100 to 150 calories. The lemon juice adds a dose of vitamin C to keep you healthy during the holidays. 

Healthiest: Filtered Water

"It's easy, contains zero calories, and will fill you up so that you do not overeat," Schreiber said. Instead of reaching for juice with your holiday dinner, go for water for ultimate hydration.

Healthiest: Pomegranate, Lime, and Sparkling Water

"This is a light and refreshing drink that will give you an antioxidant punch and a boost of vitamin C," Schreiber said.

Healthiest: Red Wine

"Red wine contains resveratrol and other compounds that fight cancer and heart disease," Schreiber said. "Make sure you limit to only two glasses, as the health benefits wear off as you consume more."

Healthiest: Sangria

Loading up your glass with more fruit and less alcohol can help slow down the buzz and make you drink less.

Healthiest: Sparkling Punch

Diluting your drink with sparkling water will help reduce calories, sugar, and the amount of alcohol in the drink. It is a great way to hydrate, while alcohol dehydrates you. 

Healthiest: Starbucks Holiday Spice Flat White

"A short serving (eight ounces) made with two percent milk contains 130 calories and six grams of protein to keep you full," Tedrow said.

Healthiest: Starbucks Peppermint Mocha

"This drink has six grams of filling protein but stick to the short size and hold the whipped cream for a total of 180 calories," Tedrow said. "Also, ask for a half pump of syrup to shave off some of the 26 grams of sugar."

Healthiest: Starbucks Iced Gingerbread Latte

"Adding ice to beverages lowers the calorie content," Tedrow said. "A tall serving (12 ounces) with no whipped cream contains just 150 calories and six grams of protein, which is great for satiating that sweet craving!"

Healthiest: Trader Joe’s Light Egg Nog

"A half cup serving contains 110 calories, but the majority of the calories are from sugar, so it's best to keep this beverage virgin or stick to just one shot of alcohol for an additional 100 calories," Tedrow said.  

Unhealthiest: Boxed Hot Chocolate

"Hot chocolate is usually made from a mix (a ton of preservatives and other non-nutritive chemicals) and milk," Schreiber said. "These are useless calories that will be metabolized as fat."

Unhealthiest: Christmas Punch

"The majority of these contain sugar, milk products, and alcohol," Schreiber said. "This is a recipe for obesity."

Unhealthiest: Eggnog

"Egg nog is full of calories, fat, and cholesterol," Schreiber said. "Drink this if you want to pack on the pounds."

Unhealthiest: Fruity Cocktails with Sugar Syrup

If you are looking for something filled with sugary juices, artificial food coloring, and high-calorie syrups, this cocktail choice is perfect. Avoid this high sugar drinks and opt for low-calorie wine instead.

Unhealthiest: Hot Buttered Rum

This drink clocks in at around 350 calories with hot melted butter, rum, and brown sugar. Steer clear from this holiday classic and opt for something that won't hurt your waistline. 

Unhealthiest: Mudslide

"This is a white Russian with Irish cream and chocolate syrup," Schreiber said. "There is nothing healthy in this drink."

Unhealthiest: White Russian

White Russians contain cream, which is a nightmare for those with dairy sensitivities," Schreiber said. "Cream contains a ton of fat and calories. No, thank you!"