Drowning yourself in spiked eggnog is one way to survive the holidays, and you wouldn’t be alone in doing so: Americans consume a whopping 135 million pounds of eggnog each year, most of which we can only assume has a decent helping of rum in it.
Sadly, eggnog plus booze equals one very good way to quickly pack on the pounds. (For reference, Americans typically gain one to three pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, and most of us never lose that weight.) Some eggnog brands cram as many as 440 calories, 58 grams of sugar and 10 grams of saturated fat into a single 8-ounce cup, while adding a shot of rum piles on another 100 calories to the mix. To put that into perspective, a Big Mac contains the same number of calories (540) and the same amount of saturated fat, but 49 fewer grams of sugar.
Surprise! All these things will wreak havoc on your body:
- Calories: A high-calorie diet combined with an inactive lifestyle results in weight gain.
- Sugar: A sugar-laden diet is associated with all kinds of ailments, from heart disease to depression.
- Saturated Fat: A diet rich in saturated fat raises the level of harmful LDL cholesterol in the blood, which increases your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Because life is little more than a cruel joke, adding alcohol only makes matters worse: “Mixing saturated fat and sugar with alcohol spikes your insulin level and puts a serious strain on your digestive system,” explains nutritionist David Friedman, author of Food Sanity: How to Eat in a World of Fads and Fiction. This reduces the amount of fat you burn (more on that here) and increases your risk of developing a litany of chronic diseases, including heart disease and kidney disease.
Knowing this, Friedman provides two simple tips for lessening the unhealthy impact of spiked eggnog:
- Opt for the ready-made “light” eggnog varieties available at most grocery stores — this can cut the calories and fat content by 40 percent.
- Dilute your usual eggnog one-to-one with cashew, coconut or almond milk. These dairy substitutes come in at significantly fewer calories.
Or maybe just ditch the eggnog altogether. Pounding straight rum is festive, right?