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Wilburn: Holiday weight gain can come in form of drinks, not just food

POSTED: March 20, 2008 5:00 a.m.

During the holiday season, many people expect that they will gain weight. What they may not know is that what they are drinking is affecting those added pounds.

While you are doing your holiday shopping, you may be tempted to sit down and relax with a refreshing drink.

If you choose a mocha-flavored coffee drink, it can add 400 to 500 calories to your daily intake. That is the number of calories many people consume at one meal.

If you are a person who needs your coffee, consider asking for fat-free milk and no whipped cream. This could shave 200 calories from the drink, making it a more reasonable choice.

Alcoholic drinks provide calories. Alcohol provides seven calories per gram; one 12-ounce can of beer provides approximately 150 calories. A piña colada can add close to 300 calories.

According to Science News, the thing providing the most calories in the American diet is soda and fruit drinks. Adults are getting 14 percent of their calories from soda and fruit drinks containing less than 10 percent juice.

A 20-ounce bottle of soda contains no nutrient value but adds 250 calories. The calories come from sugar.

In that 20-ounce bottle of soda is the equivalent of approximately 16 teaspoons of sugar.

When you drink your second bottle of soda in a day, that increases your sugar intake to 32 teaspoons and 500 calories.

It takes 3,500 calories to add up to one pound of body weight. If it’s the whole milk coffee drink, that pound can be added in seven days of drinking one 500 calorie drink per day.

If sugar-sweetened soda is your drink of choice and you drink one 20-ounce bottle per day, it would take 14 days to pack on an extra pound.

When making your drink choice, remember that they can be calorie laden. Choose fat-free milk drinks and limit alcohol and sugar sweetened beverages to help keep your holidays healthy.

Drink lots of water instead, and add a lemon slice if you need a little flavor.

Playing it safe with eggnog

Eggnog is a holiday favorite and tradition in many families. An 8-ounce glass of nonalcoholic eggnog made with whole milk has 342 calories. Choose a lower fat version to save unwanted fat and calories.

One way to lower calories is to use fat-free milk. The American Egg Board recommends that you always use pasteurized eggs or a recipe that calls for a cooked custard base to avoid the risk of foodborne illness.

The following are some tips for preparing safe eggnog.

Eggnog made with raw eggs may not be safe because salmonella bacteria may be present even if the eggshell is clean and uncracked. Adding alcohol only inhibits bacterial growth; do not rely on it to kill bacteria.

If you do take the chance on a raw eggs recipe, because of the risk of salmonella, do not serve to senior citizens, pregnant women, very young children or people with weakened immune systems.

You can also use pasteurized eggs, which can be found next to regular eggs at the store. Or you can use egg substitutes, which have already been pasteurized. Using a pasteurized product means that no further cooking is necessary. Eggnog sold in grocery stores has been prepared with pasteurized eggs.

If you use raw or unpasteurized eggs, choose a recipe in which you must cook the egg and milk mixture to 160 degrees Fahrenheit (use a thermometer). At this temperature, the mixture thickens enough to coat a spoon. Refrigerate it immediately. When making a large amount of cooked eggnog, divide it into several shallow containers when refrigerating; this will allow it to cool quickly.

Debbie Wilburn is county extension agent in family and consumer science with the Hall County Extension Service. Contact: 770-535-8290.



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