A Healthy Happy Hour?
For lots of people, Friday is the perfect excuse to head out of the office or leave the kids with a sitter and proceed directly to happy hour. Anyone who knows me will tell you I like my red wine, and enjoying a glass or two on a Friday evening is one of my favorite ways to wind down after the work week. If you don’t drink alcohol, your Friday night plans may still involve some good conversation and “decadent” snacks with friends. Regardless of what’s on your agenda, the good news is you can enjoy a little downtime without completely blowing your efforts at living a healthier lifestyle.
I’ve already written about my l0-cal cocktail options for some popular beverages. Here are a couple of other tips that help me balance my efforts to lead a healthy lifestyle with my need to blow off some steam and unwind:
- The Every-Other-Drink Rule: If you think you may want more than one drink, space them out. Start with a glass of wine or a cocktail, and when your glass is empty, order a glass of water, seltzer or diet soda for your next beverage. You’ll still feel “social” sipping on something, but by the time you’re done with that non-alcoholic drink, happy hour could be over and you’ll have saved yourself some calories and lots of sugar, too! (If you do order another “leaded” drink, it’ll only be your second alcoholic beverage instead of your third.)
- Happy Hour & Hunger Don’t Mix: There’s nothing worse than arriving at a bar or a friend’s house with a stomach that’s growling for anything. That’s when you inhale half a bowl of chips or order the loaded potato skins without a second thought. If you can, have a healthy snack within an hour before you go out so you’ll be less likely to indulge in the high-calorie, high-fat snacks. Some of my favorite pre-happy-hour snacks include: 94% fat-free microwave popcorn and an apple; a low-fat string cheese and an apple; or a serving of raw almonds and a plain fat-free Greek yogurt. If I’m not ravenous, I may be able to enjoy one drink and one glass of water and hold off on eating altogether until I have healthier options back at home. If I’m having too much fun to leave, at least hunger won’t keep me from noticing some of the better menu options, like a salad or steamed veggies.