"The Skinny" on Holiday Beverages
Surprising Fat and Calorie Counts
You may stick to just a sniggle of pie or a taste of soufflé this holiday season, but what is filling your cup? Sugary and/or alcoholic beverages can sabotage good eating habits and pack on the pounds. And if you’re diabetic, they can do much worse.
“Alcohol makes the liver work harder; it must remove alcohol from the blood first before regulating blood sugars,” says Mae Hynes, dietetic intern at the University of Virginia Health System. Essentially, this means the liver is not producing the glucose that you need. The result: hypoglycemia or a drop in blood sugar, which can be serious enough to make you lose consciousness. What’s worse, the symptoms of hypoglycemia (confusion, dizziness, shaking) resemble intoxication in many ways, so friends may not realize that you need help.
If you are a diabetic and decide to imbibe, it’s imperative that you take the necessary precautions to incorporate these drinks into your diet.
Consult your physician first.
If you will be upping your intake of alcoholic beverages, be sure to make your doctor aware. She will be able to determine potential complications with medications or other health conditions.
… and test again.
Monitor your blood sugar prior to, during and after a party if you will be drinking to be sure your blood sugar is not too low.
before you drink.
A well-balanced meal and frequent snacking will offset the effects of alcohol, providing you with the glucose you need. A precautionary snack before bedtime will help keep your levels from crashing in the middle of the night.
Be sure to account for the added carbohydrates found in juice, sodas and other mixers when calculating your daily carb intake. Your best bet is to stick with diet drinks when available.
Bring your glucose monitor and extra sugary snacks with you. And be sure that someone you’re with is aware that you are a diabetic, knows the signs of hypoglycemia and how to react if there’s a problem.
If carbs are a concern, some drinks are better than others. Here are our picks:
- 4 oz. of low-fat eggnog has fewer carbs and more protein than mulled cider and an extra 200mg of calcium to boot (protein prevents blood sugar from dropping as rapidly)
- light beer is lower in carbs than wine
- wine has fewer carbs than dark beer
- beer is a lighter
option than holiday punch (you never know what’s in that punch; it could have
soda, juice or added sugar that can get you in trouble)
Diabetic or not,
we should all think before we drink.
“We can consume twice as many calories per meal just by adding a few sugary drinks or holiday cocktails,” says Hynes. More calories mean more pounds and more pounds mean a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes and other health problems. So skip the punch and drink alcohol in moderation (that’s one drink for women per day and two for men, per the USDA).
To cut down on the calories during the holidays, substitute water – at least 16 oz. per day – for your usual thirst-quenchers so you’ll have some wiggle room if a party is in your future.