6 Steps for Mindful Holiday Drinking

Expert tips from a dietician to help you drink wisely

Drink glasses cheering with holiday lights in the background

Smart holiday eating strategies can help you navigate (often unhealthy) holiday meals. They can guide you to make good choices at the buffet table and avoid the dessert options—but don’t forget about the calories in your favorite holiday drinks.

Alcohol isn’t all bad—in some quantities. There are plenty of studies that suggest that the occasional glass of wine has some health benefits, like a reduced risk of heart disease.

And it’s natural to drink a little bit more than usual during the holiday party circuit. After all, it’s the holidays, and you likely have many more big get-togethers and meals with loved ones than normal.

However, you should keep an eye on how much you’re drinking. For one, many festive drinks contain as many calories as a frosted Christmas cookie! So, consider these strategies for lightening up:

Step 1: Choose a lower calorie drink

Instead of a martini (which can have up to three shots of alcohol and 300 calories in a large one), get a champagne or white wine spritzer. That’s made with half wine and half seltzer, and is about 180 calories.

Or get a simple coffee and Kahula—in place of an Irish coffee, which is typically made with heavy cream—to save more than 100 calories.

Step 2: Mix the drink with something lighter

Margarita and daiquiri “mixes” and regular sodas are usually full of added sugars, so mix your alcohol with club or diet soda instead.

Step 3: Pick your glass carefully

A tall, skinny glass makes it seem like you’re getting more.

Step 4: Add more ice

This will help you stretch your drink so that it lasts longer, which will likely keep you level-headed for longer, too.

Step 5: Leave out the straw

Using a straw encourages you to drink faster. That means you’ll likely get a refill or refills sooner, enabling you to drink more in the same amount of time.

Step 6: Don’t forget to take an occasional break

Every other round, drink something non-alcoholic. Go for a water, seltzer, or even a virgin version of what other people are drinking.