April 23, 2009

There's nothing like a little spiked eggnog or champagne to get you in the spirit, so to speak. Here are six holiday diet tips to help maintain your low calorie diet while allowing you to enjoy the party season without regrets:

Diet tip #1. Eat before you drink. If you imbibe on an empty stomach, the alcohol will be absorbed into your bloodstream more quickly, notes Susan Kleiner, R.D., a Mercer Island, Wash.-based sports nutritionist. In other words, the liquor will go straight to your head. Drinking when you're hungry also makes you more apt to pig out on fattening foods. Some good pre-party noshes: a small meal or snack containing fiber, protein and healthy fat, such as low-sodium chicken soup, lowfat cheese and whole-wheat crackers, or a handful of nuts.

Diet tip #2. Do water chasers. Alternate H2O and alcohol over the course of the evening, advises Jackie Berning, Ph.D., R.D., an associate professor of nutrition at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. This will prevent you from guzzling your cocktail and also will keep you hydrated. "Alcohol has a dehydrating effect, so it's important to drink at least two glasses of water for every alcoholic beverage you consume," Berning says.

Diet tip #3. Nix the 'nog. With more than 200 calories in a 5-ounce serving, holiday eggnog, which typically contains brandy, milk, sugar and raw egg, "is like liquid Haagen-Dazs," says Kleiner. "It isn't a beverage -- it's a dessert!"

Diet tip #4. Dilute it. Order low calorie alcoholic drinks like vodka and club soda, rum and diet Coke, or gin and diet tonic that include a calorie-free mixer. Or cut your wine serving in half and make up the volume difference with club soda to create a refreshing wine spritzer.

Diet tip #5. Fake it. Fool yourself -- and your friends -- by having a nonalcoholic drink that looks like a stiff one. For example, order a sparkling water on the rocks with a twist of lime and a swizzle stick.

Diet tip #6. Set your limit. Resolve ahead of time that you'll only have one or two drinks. After that, switch to water, seltzer or a diet soft drink. Beware of waiters and party hosts who keep filling your glass, Kleiner warns. "That makes it hard to keep track of how much you've had to drink."

Check out these tips for low calorie alcoholic drinks; they're ideal for when you're planning your next gathering with friends and family.

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