Though alcohol has some serious health and weight loss downsides, which is why we don't advise our dieters to drink on phases two and three of the 123Diet, it's hard to get through the holiday season as a teetotaler.

Luckily, according to science, the occasional alcoholic beverage may not actually be that bad for you. Though red wine is the alcohol type that usually gets the most health accolades because it contains the rare antioxidant resveratrol (which you can also find in peanuts, blueberries and cranberries) moderate drinking of all types of alcohol has been associated with quite a few health benefits.

For instance, though too much alcohol has been associated with an increased risk of dementia, older adults who drank between one and six drinks a week were actually less likely to develop it.

Moderate alcohol intake may also be good for your heart; it has been found to raise good cholesterol, decrease blood pressure, and reduce the risk of blood clots. It also may reduce your risk of diabetes, which itself is a huge risk factor for heart disease.

Additionally, while alcohol abuse remains one of our leading causes of death, moderate drinking may actually reduce your overall mortality risk.

Still, all these benefits disappear and risks of cancer, obesity, depression, and liver and pancreas disease emerge if you drink too much. Thus, experts agree that it's far better not to drink at all than to risk overdoing it.

If you were wondering what constitutes "moderate" drinking, since men tend to weigh more and metabolize alcohol faster, experts believe that they can healthily drink about two drinks a day. Women should probably stick to one.

However, don't think "a drink" means you can use a glass big enough to fit half the bottle! Best to stick to five ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or 1.5 ounces of liquor.

So now that we've gotten through how much and why to drink, there comes the question of what to drink. Unfortunately, some of the most common Christmas cocktails are bona fide diet destroyers. A heavy eggnog could be worse for you than dessert!

Your more conventional mixers aren't much better; even seemingly healthy or innocuous fruit juices can contain unholy amounts of added sugar and corn syrup!

Juice that comes fresh squeezed from actual fruit, on the other hand, is a-ok; since alcohol is known to be detrimental to the immune system, why not try and cancel out the damage with some immune-boosting orange?

Though diet soda may seem like a tempting mixer option if you're trying to cut calories, the stuff is loaded with artificial sweeteners that can seriously harm your health and hamper your weight loss long-term. Sparkling water is a better option, but make sure you don't accidentally end up with tonic water, which contains quinine and sugar.

Also, though a frozen drink may be tempting to those celebrating Christmas in Australia (remember, it's summer there!), these super-sweet cocktails can be some of the worst offenders calorie wise. Why not spike one of our low-calorie shakes instead?

On the other hand, if you're in the mood for a hot drink, skip the sugar-laden mulled wine and use lemon juice, tea, and whiskey to make yourself a light hot toddy. It should only run you around 100 calories if made with honey and 70 if you use stevia or cut out the sugar entirely.

Another red wine idea is to whip up a sangria packed with healthy fruits and flavored with stevia or honey rather than ultra-inflammatory white sugar. Using them as cocktail add-ons could also be a great way to incorporate more fat-burning herbs and spices into your diet. Try cinnamon, mint, ginger, or even cayenne pepper if Bloody Marys are on the menu!

Or, for maximum antioxidant power, you could use fat-free wondercocoa, red wine, and your favorite plant-based milk substitute to whip up a red wine hot chocolate.

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Though it does tend to be high in carbs and has a somewhat unfavorable alcohol-for-calorie ratio, beer does have B-vitamins going for it. Plus, beer's carbonation may make it more filling than some other alcoholic beverages.

Some people thus find beer harder to overdo it on; it takes much longer to drink twelve ounces of a carbonated beverage than it does to down a shot of tequila!

Similarly, it will probably take you a lot longer to drink a dry wine than an irresistibly sweet one. It's a win/win, since drier wine also tends to have a lower sugar and calorie content.

If you do go with the beer, a light lager should be your first choice; lager itself is probably second best, then ale, then stout. Ciders tend to highest in both carbs and calories.

So what about the liquor shelf? You should definitely avoid anything cream-based;  a shot of Bailey's, for instance, has 147 calories, 9 g of sugar, and 6 g of fat. More generally, you should think twice about anything sweet or flavored; for instance, a shot of fireball has a good 40 calories more than a plain shot of whiskey!

However, a shot of plain liquor usually won't be more than a hundred calories, and there are also flavored varieties of liquor out there that have about the same amount of calories or even less.

It can be somewhat hard to figure out which is which, since alcohol manufacturers, unlike food manufacturers, are not legally obligated to provide nutritional information for their products. Fortunately, drinkers who share our concerns developed a site called "Get Drunk Not Fat," which sorts drinks by their alcohol-to-calorie ratio and lists their calorie count.

Whatever you choose, stick to one glass (ok, two max) and drink it with or after dinner instead of breaking out the booze before you've even hit the appetizers. Drinking on an empty stomach could easily result in a lot of thoughtless snacking!

Still, if you do happen to overindulge in food or drink, try not to beat yourself up about it; it is the holiday season, after all! Just stay safe, and make sure you have a designated driver on hand!

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