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Nog or bubbly? Tips for healthy imbibing

We've all read about how to minimize unhealthy eating habits during the holidays, but beverages seem to get less attention. At New Year's celebrations, we might be tempted to drink more alcohol than usual, or toast with sugary Champagne or throw in an aperitif of port or other sweet liqueur.

Here are a few tips from the experts on how to avoid the fat booze-boost:

■ Eggnog is fat. How much fat? According to a calorie-counting site (www.caloriecount.about.com/calories-eggnog-i1057), an 8-ounce serving contains 19 grams of fat, 343 calories and 21.4 grams of sugar.

■ Here's something that also tastes like what we think Christmas should taste like: Coffee-Mate cinnamon vanilla creme. If you put two tablespoons in each cup of coffee and had two cups a day for a week, that would be 56 grams of fat, 1,120 calories and 140 grams of sugar.

■ Try wine instead of almost any other alcohol. According to Men's Health, a 5-ounce glass of wine has about 125 calories and has a lot of properties that are healthy, compared with 159 calories for a 12-ounce beer that will just fill you up.

■ Just because you can see through it doesn't mean it's not freighted with calories. A shot of hard liquor has about 90 calories, and those calories add up faster when you add mixers.

■ Linda Gigliotti a dietitian at the University of California, Irvine, says alcohol can weaken your resolve to eat sensibly (ah, that explains it!) She also advises to wait until midnight for the bubbly, and to drink two glasses of water for every drink you imbibe.

■ Here's something I learned from foxnews.com's Dr. Manny Alvarez: Don't make yourself a rum and Diet Coke, thinking the 1-calorie thing will do you good.

"Mixing alcohol with a diet beverage results in a higher concentration of alcohol in the blood stream," he writes. "Sugar metabolizes alcohol. In this instance, sugar is good for you."

■ Don't mess around with those booze-infused energy drinks. The caffeine masks the effects of the alcohol, making you more alert and apt to want to party on. Also, if you get addicted, your favorite brand might not be around in the new year.

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