The year 2020 is one we’re more than ready to put in the past. It’s time to ring in new beginnings, or commemorate — and drown out — the past. This time of year, especially between Thanksgiving and New Years, Americans increase their alcohol intake by two fold, according to a 2018 study.

We’re not going to lecture the drinkers or decry the effects of alcohol — but we are going to cast light to a common side effect many people find themselves regretting: holiday weight gain. Holiday weight gain is a divisive topic. Some reading this may put on up to six pounds of weight, while others little at all. Most of these pounds come from people at this time of year excusing themselves from sensible eating. There’s nothing to fear from a cookie or two; however a cookie, cake, and pie washed down with hot chocolate becomes an issue.

And holiday drinks serve up a lot of empty calories.

Let’s discuss calories in beverages and forget about the rest. Holiday drinks in general boast a very large amount of calories. Add booze to them and it’s no wonder. Homemade eggnog up to 340 calories; hot buttered rum, 400. Hot chocolate 320. This is before the alcohol is added at around 100 calories per shot. Even champagne has 180 calories. Dark, heavy, or robust beers can have over 200.

Some math demonstrates how this gets out of hand. A person may have two eggs, toast, jam and butter for breakfast. This equates to around 650 calories. A salad, cup of minestrone soup, and a basic turkey sandwich for lunch, around 650 calories. Dinner is a bowl of chili, with ground turkey and avocado; another 650 calories. By all accounts this person is likely eating fewer calories than they burn in a day. However; after dinner a holiday party invites them to let go and have a few drinks. Even two servings of spiced hot apple cider and rum, at a moderate 250 calories each, puts them in the realm of weight gain.

After drinking, a couple holiday cookies and brownies can add another 500 calories.

A thousand additional calories add up fast. A pound of weight gain takes around 3,500 calories to accumulate. You can easily see how the weight piles on.

How to avoid this? Don’t avoid holiday treats; avoid overconsumption. Have lighter drinks, eat lighter meals, and know that a cookie or two is good enough. Instead of eating a normal dinner, have a salad with lean protein. Use sensible alternatives like diet sodas and low-calorie mixers. Have a smaller piece of pie, brownie, and a couple of the best cookies, not all of them.

Happy holidays to all!