Ways to enjoy healthy drinks & food during the festive season

Nutritionist Cheree Sheldon shares her top low-cal alcoholic drinks for those watching their weight. Plus, tips to keep on your healthy eating plan at Christmas.
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10 alcoholic drinks to AVOID if you want to lose weight

In the past, if you were watching your weight and wanted to have an alcoholic drink, there were very limited options, and most would stick to clear spirits and soda.

There are now lots of low-sugar and low-carb options if you want to have a drink or two. Keep in mind, that a lot of the premixed options are artificially sweetened, and they aren’t good choices for your health.

For anything that has the following numbers (950, 952,954 and 955), I would say to skip the pre-mixed version and make your own real version instead!

In this article you’ll find:

  • Low-calorie Christmas drink alternatives
  • Tips to get through happy hour and keep on track
  • Ways to avoid over-indulgence in the face of festive temptations

Jump ahead to find:

Top 10 low-calorie drinks from a nutritionist

1. Early harvest white wine

10 alcoholic drinks to AVOID if you want to lose weight

The grapes are picked earlier and it makes the drink lower in alcohol and lower in carbs.

2. Low-sugar beer

10 alcoholic drinks to AVOID if you want to lose weight

Some fancy craft beers are over 150 calories per bottle, but lower-carb beers are usually below 100 calories per bottle.

3. Ciders

While a lot of people are under the assumption that cider is a lighter choice, a full strength apple cider can have as many calories as beer.

With 207 calories and a massive 30g of carbs. Picking a lower carb option brings it down to 153 Calories and 13g carbs for a drink.

4. Red Wine

A ‘standard’ drink of wine is 100ml. Most pubs or restaurants actually serve 150ml glasses of wine, while when you pour for yourself, you are most likely to pour well over 200ml at a time!

Keep this in mind when working out how many calories you are drinking. As on the surface, red wine looks innocent at 78 calories per 100ml, however, who just drinks 100ml?!

5. Bourbon and coke

This is a drink that’s traditionally very high in calories. 264 Calories per 100ml, and given a can of premix is 375ml, it’s going to add up pretty quickly.

Zero sugar premixes are available, but as they are sweetened artificially, why not pick a cola sweetened with stevia and add your own bourbon?

You can even water the cola down with a bit of soda water or make sure you have it in HEAPS of ice to water it down a bit!

6. Bloody Mary

Any excuse to add veggies right?? Vodka with tomato juice and spices, this is just over 120 calories per serve. Add oysters on the side for a real treat!

7. Mojito

10 alcoholic drinks to AVOID if you want to lose weight

It’s all about making your own versions of your fave drinks to make them low Calorie. A mojito is a cocktail made with white rum, lime, mint and sugar syrup.

It weighs in at 217 Calories and 25g of sugar per drink! If you make it without the sugar syrup it’s still divine, and it reduces the calories to 65 and has no added sugars! If you miss the sweetness, add a tiny bit of stevia.

Check out this delicious mojito recipe!

8. Espresso Martini

Equal parts vodka, coffee liqueur, and espresso coffee make up this popular cocktail, but the coffee liqueur adds 80 calories and 11.3 carbs per drink.

Can you skip the liqueur and just make your own version with vodka, espresso and a touch of stevia? If you do, it will only be 67 calories with no carbs!

Enjoy our espresso martini recipe!

9. Moscow Mule

Another vodka-based drink, except this time with ginger and lime. Swap the ginger beer for the low-sugar version to reduce the calories.

10. Sparkling wine

A standard glass of sparkling wine is 100 calories and 2g carbs.

5 cocktail and mocktail recipes under 100 calories

Mojito Slushy Cocktail

Calories: 67

Mojito Slushy

Here’s a fabulous cocktail recipe that will go down a treat on a warm Christmas Day – a Mojito Slushy!

Grab the recipe here!

Blueberry Breeze Cocktail

Calories: 86

blueberry breeze

Whether it’s the festive season or you just want something fruity to drink at your next dinner party, this Blueberry Breeze Cocktail is just for you!

Grab the recipe here!

Cheerful Mocktail

Calories: 55


Want to enjoy some Christmas cheer without the alcohol or calories? This Cheerful Mocktail is a tasty addition to any festive celebration!

Grab the recipe here!

Passionfruit and Pineapple Mocktail

Calories: 76


Want a summery drink for the festive season but trying to avoid the alcohol?

Grab the recipe here!

4 Ingredient Watermelon Margarita

Calories: 111

Watermelon Margarita

Ok, so this one is technically above 100 calories, but it’s so close we thought we would include it anyway.

Grab the recipe here!

Healthy Mummy happy hour tips

christmas feast
  • Watch your portion sizes – just like you do with your food, be sure not to over pour your drinks as they can quickly add up.
  • Alternate alcoholic drinks with water – it will help you in the morning as well as keep you in control
  • Drinks to avoid include creamy cocktails (they are often huge and filled with, of course, cream), creamy drinks like Baileys, cocktails made with sugar syrup, pre-mixed drinks such as Breezers (as they pack a punch with sugar and calories too).
  • Set yourself a limit – if you are going to a party, why not tell yourself that you will enjoy 3 drinks and that’s it? The same goes with the canapés!
  • Instead of making fruity punch, why not make a healthy iced tea? It’s super low-calorie as well as refreshing when served over ice.
  • Our Christmas Recipe Book has many other drinks recipes that are perfect for this season.
Drinks Calorie guide 1
Drinks calories guide

Tips to enjoy the festive season without overindulging

Many people associate Christmas time with excessive eating and drinking.

If you’re worried about eating or drinking too much over the party season, the good news is there are ways to manage your food and drink consumption, so you don’t hinder your weight loss plans – plus still have fun!

1. Don’t arrive ravenous

There’s nothing like extreme hunger to test anyone’s willpower.

If you arrive at a gathering hungry you are far more likely to end up overdoing it on alcohol, plus whatever food happens to be served first (which tends to be pastry or batter covered).

Try to prepare for this by having a nutritious snack before you arrive, such as a banana, yoghurt, some trail mix or a Healthy Mummy Smoothie (especially if you know there won’t be a main meal served).

2. Don’t stand near the food or the bar

christmas wine and food

Try to keep busy chatting with people away from the snacks, and avoid the tendency to overeat just for something to do with your hands.

Grab a water so that your hands are busy if that helps.

3. Choose your drinks wisely

Free drinks can be a killer for willpower. Especially large, creamy, sugary drinks with umbrellas in them.

If you do fancy a cocktail it’s best to go for something icy rather than creamy, and one that is flavoured with fresh fruit is better than something packed with syrups or cordials. Think Mojito (160 cal) instead of a Creamy Midori Splice (370 cal).

A great option is to enjoy a glass of white wine or champagne with some sparkling water in it. You still enjoy the flavour but it drastically reduces your alcohol and calorie intake. Plus no one will know that you are being drink-smart.

4. Avoid anything deep-fried, buttery or creamy

There is, for some reason, a tendency for people to think that everyone needs more batter and mayonnaise in their life at social occasions.

Snacks such as deep fried prawns, sausage rolls, creamy dips and spring rolls abound on canapé trays all over the country. These are best avoided – unless they are a Healthy Mummy healthier recipe. Try filling up on healthy options such as carrot sticks and hummus instead, a small amount of cheese, or some fresh fruit. 

Check out the healthy recipe alternatives on the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge recipe hub.

5. Try to source the better choices in the food department

vietnamese rice paper rolls

Your best bet is to fill up on better options such as quiches, rice paper rolls, fresh fruit, bruschetta, sandwiches on wholegrain bread, smoked salmon, meatballs and sushi.

Check out this delicious bruschetta recipe!

Check out this healthy Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls recipe here.

6. Set yourself some limits

Cucumber christmas canape

If you find you don’t have an ‘off’ button for the drinks or food at the party, it can help to set yourself a number of each that you will have.

That way you can still be a part of the event and enjoy yourself, but if you reach your 3-drink or 4-canape limit then this might help you to keep yourself in check and not overdo it.

7. Don’t overfill your plate

If there is a buffet or a sit-down meal, try your best to keep your portions in check.

It’s easy to get carried away when you want to try everything, but remember that this is not your last meal and that you are trying to be healthy (so best to take the extra dinner roll out of your purse).

8. Watch the sauces and dressings

There is nothing that can undo your great choices faster than a creamy sauce or high-fat salad dressing. If in doubt, leave it out and go for a splash of olive oil for your salad or some mustard for your roast beef.

9. Have a line or two ready for over-eager waiters

If you are one of those people that find it hard to say no to a smiling waiter with a tray of party pies, it pays to be organised.

There’s no need for you to give them your life story, a simple line such as “They look great, but I’m all set thanks” or “I’m fine for now” will suffice.

How to find the lowest calorie drinks

When you are trying to lose weight, choosing the better option from the bar can be confusing. With all the low carb beers, low alcohol wines, not to mention the offers of fruity cocktails – it can start to feel like there are too many choices.

Of course, it’s not just calories you want to keep an eye on with your alcoholic drinks – sugar is another one to watch. Many drinks (even the non sweet ones) contain sugar (due to the fermentation process, as well as added sugar in others) so it’s important to take note of that as well.

1. Beer


When it comes to beer, it’s pretty easy to remember – the lower the alcohol content, the lower the calories. Alcohol content is more important than whether the beer claims to be ‘low carb’ or not.

So if you fancy a couple of drinks at a BBQ, a light beer is a good choice as it comes in at 100 calories for a 375ml serve (compared to 145 cal for a full strength).

2. Wine

A typical glass of wine comes in at 90 calories for a 120ml serve. It’s important to note that wine is much stronger than beer (around 12% for wine compared to 4.8% for beer) so be careful not to overdo it.

You may try enjoying a wine spritzer – which is half wine (or try half champagne) and half sparkling water. You still enjoy the taste of the wine, but it helps to keep you hydrated and clear headed (including the next morning).

3. Spirits

Once again there is a big jump in the strength of spirits with most coming in around the 40% mark.

While a single 30ml nip of vodka or scotch contains around 65 calories, it’s the mixers that you need to keep an eye on.

Topping up your rum with a 375ml Coca Cola will add a further 161 calories (and almost 10 teaspoons of sugar!). Ginger beer and lemonade are not much better at 165 cal and 124 cal respectively.

Juice is another one that people often mistake as being a great choice for a mixer. But the 200ml of pineapple juice adds 100 calories and plenty of sugar to your drink too.

Processed juice from a container often has added sugar (as well as the natural sugars) so are best avoided if you can.

The better choices? Go for soda water with some fresh lime – soda contains 0 calories and 0 sugar.

Also why not try adding just a splash of juice to your spirit and then topping up with sparkling water?

You could also try some diet soft drinks – they aren’t an everyday option by any means (as they contain sweeteners and numerous additives) but they are much lower calorie and lower in sugar than their full strength counterparts. And don’t be fooled into thinking that tonic water is a healthier choice – it’s very sugary and high in calories too.

no spiced stars

For more tips on how to plan for your food and drinks over Christmas, get your copy of our Festive Cookbook.


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