Many people put on a few pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year's -- and it's not just food that's to blame. Popular cold-weather beverages also can be packed with calories, fat and sugar.

Here are tips from nutrition experts to make drinks healthier:

Substitute ingredients. Hot chocolate and eggnog still taste great with low-fat or skim milk instead of whole. You can also use egg substitutes in eggnog and keep it liquor-free.

Take advantage of antioxidants. Look for hot chocolate mixes with dark chocolate as the first ingredient. Add some cinnamon to hot apple cider to help improve blood sugar and cholesterol levels. And drink a glass of red wine for antioxidants.

Stick to small sizes. Think of treats such as eggnog lattes and mochas as desserts, not drinks.

Beware of mulled wine. Adding sugar and spices to wine boosts the calorie count: a 5 oz. glass of mulled wine has about 175 calories, compared to about 125 in a glass of red wine.

Hold the toppings. Cutting whipped cream from a drink can save 60 to 70 calories and 6 to 7 grams of fat.

Mix in zero-calorie drinks. After enjoying one sweet drink and maybe a glass of wine, stick with water or diet soda.


Many cases of food allergies and eczema -- a skin condition marked by itchy rashes -- are unavoidable. But dermatologists say these steps may help reduce your child's risks.

Consider your pregnancy diet. Babies whose mothers eat peanuts are more likely to test positive for peanut allergies.

Breastfeed your baby. For babies who have a parent or sibling with allergies, there's evidence that exclusive breast feeding for the first four months reduces the risk of eczema and cow's milk allergy early on.

Don't introduce solid foods before age 4 to 6 months. Rice and oat cereals are good first choices because they rarely trigger allergies. Many pediatricians recommend not feeding highly allergenic foods to a child until age 1 (cow's milk and citrus fruits), 2 (eggs and wheat) and 3 (peanuts and fish).

Ditch antibacterial soap. Regular soap and water is fine for cleaning -- and may be better at preventing allergies as a child's immune system matures.

Newport News (Va) Daily press