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Monday, November 30, 2009

Eat, drink and be merry?

I'm a label reader. Shocker, right? I'm sure you hadn't guessed. So as I sit here pondering this entry and enjoying a glass of Cabernet, I find myself wondering why the nutrition information isn't required on the bottle. Is it so bad for us that they don't dare say? So of course, I start to investigate...

OK, let's see. So USDA says my red wine has about 25 calories per ounce. So in a standard 5 ounce pour (and looking at mine, I'd say I was a bit more generous...), that's 125 calories per glass. White wine is about the same. That means there's 650 calories in the bottle (750 ml). What does this tell us? Well it quite obviously explains the way I looked in my early 20s. Oh my. By the way, this photo shows 5 ounces. Yes, that's all.

As I dig deeper and deeper, it gets worse and worse. Your average light beer is about 100 calories, with "regular" beer around 150. It continues to skyrocket, with some ales upwards of 250 calories per 12 ounce bottle. PER BOTTLE. Don't even get me started on the carbs.

And wait, what's this? My heart is breaking. USDA says the average 16 ounce margarita has about 500 calories. Google and I immediately tried to disprove this, but the numbers topped 1100 and I stopped looking. And here I thought it was the chips and queso that were the problem.

I like to have a glass of wine with dinner, share a bottle with friends at our dinner parties or enjoy myself on our occasional nights out. With these numbers, though, I'm thanking my lucky stars that I'm a bit of a homebody! But with the holidays upon us, and after some gentle nudging by some Svelte Gourmet fans, I thought it might be a good idea to talk about some of our favorite beverages.

Vodka, whiskey and your other varieties only have about 60-70 calories per ounce. The problem? Mix 2 ounces of alcohol with 8 ounces of fruit juice and you're back up to around 250 calories per drink (or more!). Same with soda. Wow, this is frustrating.

Even more frustrating are our everyday drinks. I maintain that the FASTEST way to sabotage your diet is to drink your calories. Why the fastest? Because you don't even have to chew. Down it goes in the name of thirst-quenching. I just looked in the fridge and Keith's grape juice has 120 calories in 8 ounces. That would be fine if one drank just 8 ounces. But with the size of beverage cups going the way of dinner plates, even full of ice you're probably drinking at least 4 times that. Sure, there are benefits to fruit juice, but if you're going to drink it, read the label -- most are loaded with sugar. And regular soda? That 44 ounce fountain soda has about 560 calories. Yikes! As a label reader, I know that while the average sports drink touts 50 calories per serving, there are 2.5 servings in that bottle. Diet drinks are loaded with artificial sweeteners, and I allow myself one per day (though I disobey myself more often than not). I should really try to break that habit. Maybe as my New Year's resolution?

Anyway, this is all very depressing. So I'll try to make it up to you with a couple tips.

I'm sure sommeliers all over the world will gasp at this notion (because of course there are sommeliers all over the world reading my blog...), but I like to mix seltzer with my wine. It cuts the calories in half (ounce for ounce, of course), allows me to keep my wits about me, and makes a nice little spritzer. Yum!

Keith mixes his grape juice with water. My mom does this, too, and I could never understand it. I always thought it was so weird. Then I married a man who does the same thing. Go figure! I stick to water during the day, but I understand that for some, plain water is an acquired taste. Try it with a squirt of lemon or pour some water in a pitcher over cucumber slices, limes, oranges or fresh mint. It adds a little flavor, without the calories. I happen to love sparkling water, and there are even flavored ones with no artificial sweeteners! Try these if you have trouble downing the requisite 64 ounces of water per day.

I know this is probably not what you wanted to hear today, right after a long Thanksgiving holiday and with more just like it coming up...but really, it's for the best. Armed with this knowledge, you can make conscious decisions about what you're eating AND drinking. There's no harm in enjoying yourself, it may just mean a little extra time on the treadmill. Pick up the pace during your holiday shopping and maybe you'll work off that extra glass of wine. That's how I think about it, anyway.

Hey, at least I didn't mention your venti latte from Fourbucks. But maybe you should look into it...


Anonymous said...

this makes me sad, but aware! Ug.

Anonymous said...

Solution: Gin and soda water with a squeeze of fresh lime. Only about 70 calories for a full size serving (1oz alcohol) :)