Saturday, February 2, 2008

Healthy Happy Hour

Of course, we all want to be social and enjoy ourselves at happy hour, but we also don't want to pack on the pounds. Here are a few of my suggestions for a healthy (and low-cal) happy hour:

  • Just say no to high-calorie fruit drinks. Most fruity drinks are loaded with calories and sugar-- some have as many as 300 calories per drink! If you have 2-3 drinks over the course of the evening, that's close to 900 calories! (Yikes!) Better options are flavored vodka with soda water or regular vodka with soda water and a splash of fruit juice (approximately 70-80 calories per drink) .

  • In the mood for beer, go light. Most light beers come in around 100-120 calories per bottle, but still have quite a lot of flavor and taste delicious. I've drank so much light beer over the years, I usually prefer it to the "heavy" option. Also, if you order a bottle of beer instead of a draft, you automatically have portion control (just 12 oz).

  • Steer clear of frozen beverages. Similarly to fruity drinks, frozen drink mixes are packed with calories and sugar. If you really want a margarita or pina colada, ask the bartender to make you the "real deal." You'll save quite a few calories, and the original cocktail, in my opinion, tastes a lot better!

  • Alternate water with alcoholic beverages. Water (or soda water) slows your pace when it comes to consuming alcohol. It also hydrates you, making the following morning much more enjoyable. Bonus: If you alternate booze with soda and lime (aka a "mocktail), it almost feels like you are enjoying a cocktail (for zero calories).

  • You can't go wrong with white wine. My "go to" drink is always white wine. It's delicious, flavorful, and relatively low in calories (about 120 calories per 5 oz glass). I always feel much more sophisticated when I am holding a wine glass, and tend to savor each sip instead of chugging it down like I might with a beer or cocktail. You can also "lighten-up" white wine with soda water (aka wine spritzer), which cuts calories and/or makes your glass of wine last longer.

  • Beware of free bar snacks. There is a bar in our hometown that serves free popcorn (you know, the super buttery kind). I'm not much of a popcorn fan, but after a few cocktails, my new favorite food becomes popcorn. My best advice for situations like this is just don't start! Once I have a taste of popcorn, I just can't stop myself, and end up snacking the entire night. Another tip: Remember where people's hands have been. If I am thinking about digging into a bowl of popcorn, peanuts, pretzels, etc., I think: unwashed hands from the bathroom. Ewwwww! That thought alone stops my desire to snack!

  • More tips for social events and eating out.