Holiday drinks don't have to load you down

Many people put on a few pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year's — and it's not just food that's to blame. Popular cold-weather beverages also can be packed with calories, fat and sugar.

Substitute ingredients: Hot chocolate and eggnog still taste great with low-fat or skim milk instead of whole. You can also use egg substitutes in eggnog and keep it liquor-free.

Take advantage of antioxidants: Look for hot-chocolate mixes with dark chocolate as the first ingredient; they have more flavonoids, compounds that can reduce inflammation linked to heart disease. Add some cinnamon to hot apple cider to help improve blood sugar and cholesterol levels. And drink a glass of red wine for antioxidants that might protect against heart disease and eye problems.

Stick to small sizes: Think of treats such as eggnog lattes and mochas as desserts, not drinks.

Beware of mulled wine: Adding sugar and spices to wine boosts the calorie count: a 5-ounce glass of mulled wine has about 175 calories, compared to about 125 in a glass of red wine.

Hold the toppings: Cutting whipped cream from a drink such as peppermint mocha can save 60 to 70 calories and six to seven grams of fat.

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