On Thanksgiving, you may eat the biggest meal of the year. But if you're concerned about your waistline this holiday season, watch out for what you choose to drink, too.
A new study finds that Americans are consuming twice as many calories from beverages compared to decades past.
"Adults are drinking 220 calories more per day than they were 30 years ago," says Kiyah Duffey, a nutrition researcher at the University of North Carolina.
This time of year, super sweet and rich drinks are plentiful.
"It look like a half cup of this eggnog is 170 calories," says Susan Fried, during a stroll down a supermarket aisle in Ellicott City, Md. Fried directs the University of Maryland's Clinical Nutrition Research Unit, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health.
And since people are more likely to drink a cup of eggnog, getting 340 calories from a single drink is "quite a bit," she says.
And studies suggest that the calories we drink are not as satiating as the calories we eat. Especially when it comes to sweet drinks.
Decades ago, we got more physical activity and people drank water to quench thirst, says Fried. "Whereas in the store here, there are lots of options and they're tempting to drink," she remarks as we walk down the supermarket aisle.
In the juice aisle, Fried inspects a nutrition label for calories. "This cranberry juice has only 70 calories a cup," she says, "so it's a much better choice."
But if eggnog is a drink you really enjoy, Fried says there's no reason to deny yourself.
"My philosophy is to eat (and drink) defensively." If you're going to have a glass of eggnog or a few glasses of wine, you should be aware that you're front-loading a meal with a few hundred extra calories.
For instance, spiking a glass of eggnog with a double shot of liquor adds another 100 calories. And a glass of wine has about as many calories as a can of soda.
But all is not lost — even a walk can help. "Every year after Thanksgiving dinner," says Fried, "we go for a long walk." And an hour at a brisk pace will burn about 250 calories.