For those of us who are—how should I say it?—big boned, it's not easy getting through the holidays without fretting about our weight. The old media myth used to be that the average American gained 7 to 10 pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but research now shows it's closer to 1 pound. That's right: a single pound.
So perhaps we're not indulging ourselves as much as we thought. Still, I hear people over the holidays, especially those facing the middle age spread, worrying over this slice of pie or that hunk of fudge. (Typically after the fact.)
Wine is part of that, too. Who hasn't watched a reveler wave off a glass of wine, worried about the calories and carbohydrates? (And saving room perhaps for more cake?) Too each his or her own, of course, but it's an interesting exercise to see how your favorite indulgences compare in the nutrition department.
A 5-ounce glass of red wine has about 125 calories on average, while a similar glass of white has 121. Both have about 4 grams of carbohydrates. That's according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
Contrast that with a 12-ounce cola, which carries roughly 140 calories and 39 carbs. A 12-ounce can of Budweiser stocks 146 calories and 11 carbs, while a classic vodka martini has about 250 calories, give or take an olive.
The good news is that none of those drinks carry an ounce of fat.
But let's talk holiday food, and just for an unhealthy baseline, let's establish that McDonald's claims that a Big Mac has 550 calories, 46 carbs and 29 grams of fat. (Urp!)
If you like to nibble on cheese the way I do, consider that a 1-ounce slice of cheddar has 113 calories, 4 carbs and 9 grams of fat. Pillsbury says that your average gingerbread man has about 90 calories, 12 carbs and 5 grams of fat. Finally, a typical slice of apple pie weighs in at 411 calories, 57 carbs and 19 grams of fat.
Yes, a slice of apple pie is roughly as bad for you as a Big Mac, but more important to notice: wine consumed in moderation is better for you nutritionally than most of the holiday indulgences I've mentioned above.
In fact, research has shown that moderate wine drinkers are generally leaner, not fatter, than nondrinkers. A study published in Archives of Internal Medicine in 2010 found that while nearly all the women gained weight as they aged, women in their 40s and early 50s who drank two or three glasses of wine a day gained less than half the weight as abstainers.
So by all means enjoy a glass or two of wine regularly over the holidays. If you're going to fuss over your weight, wine is the least of your worries.
Jack Fleming — Rancho Palos Verdes, CA — December 17, 2012 12:13pm ET
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