Happy Thursday! Hope you’re having a great week. For those of us in the U.S., we’re looking at the Memorial Day long weekend, which is basically the unofficial start of summer. This is a time of year when social invitations pick up and we enjoy more time outdoors with friends and family—or going on more dates because it’s easier to motivate yourself to go out and meet people when it’s above freezing. Other side of that coin is that if you’re in a relationship, it’s a lot easier to get out and do fun stuff outside.

Happy hour drink and food specials can be a great way to catch up and connect without breaking the bank. The downside is that this can make it way too easy to go overboard on calories. Another thing that can contribute to summer weight gain is swapping those after-work gym sessions and fitness classes for the bar.

A lot of my clients freak out a bit when they look at their summer calendars, but it’s totally doable to be social and still be healthy.

watermelon mimosas

For starters, figure out where you can fit in exercise. If evenings become challenging this time of year, take advantage of the early daylight and go for a walk or a run first thing or give early bird workouts and classes a shot. Though it may not work for everyone, your lunch break is another great time of day to fit in some physical activity.

What you put in your mouth counts too. Sure, I could talk about how alcohol = empty calories and blah, blah, blah, but let’s be real—when enjoyed in moderation, alcohol can be part of an overall healthy life.

Last summer, I wrote an article for YouBeauty about lower-calorie cocktails. A few of my favorite low-cal drink options:

  • Prosecco or champagne
  • Gin and Club soda (feel free to swap tequila or vodka)
  • A classic margarita on the rocks
  • Whiskey on the rocks (I’m all about this rye right now)
  • Rose or white wine spritzer

*As far as food goes, the most important thing is to decide if what you eat is going to be a snack or dinner.

If you’re going the snack route, keep it light but nourishing. Remember: eating crap makes you feel like crap. You’re going to feel a lot more balanced and satisfied with 200 calories worth of real food than 200 calories of chips and salsa or “just a few” fries. Steer clear of fried and breaded items. For larger plates, share with pals to keep portions in check, but go slow on stuff that’s hard for you to keep track of. A few things to try:

  • Oysters
  • Shrimp cocktail
  • Grilled chicken, meat, or fish skewers
  • Sliders can actually be great, but stick to just one or two of the buns.
  • Olives
  • Popcorn
  • Hummus with pita and veggies
  • Cheese or charcuterie plate

oysters

If you’re making a meal of bar food, you still want to aim for a mix of protein and veggies, maybe with a small amount of complex carbs in there. For example, if you’re doing something like $1 tacos, get one with meat and one with vegetables. Or maybe you do shrimp cocktail and a cup of soup or side salad.

If you’re going to be eating off a few shared small plates, ask for an extra empty one so you can assemble yourself a plate so your brain registers that you just ate dinner.

Hopefully this goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: Don’t feel like you have to eat something if you’re not hungry. That said, have a plan for what to eat after so you’re not rummaging through your cabinets, buzzed.

In this Shape article, I shared some tips for avoiding the drunchies. Of course, life happens, and our plan for a healthy dinner or early bedtime falls by the wayside. Once in a while, that’s totally okay. That doesn’t mean you have to think you’ve “blown it” and have to resign yourself to eating ice cream from the carton standing in front of the refrigerator.

My personal favorite “OMG I did not mean to have that second drink and now it’s too late to make dinner” food is a steamed sweet potato with peanut butter and jelly. It takes about 5 minutes to make in the microwave and provides a stabilizing mix of protein, fat, and carbs. Add a giant glass of water and you’re good to call it a night.PB and J Sweet Potato

Do you ever hit up happy hour? Any favorite foods to eat while drinking? 

This post has been part of another Running with Spoons Thinking Out Loud link party, where randomness is the name of the game. Thanks to Amanda for hosting.

Thinking Out Loud2 - Healthier Happy Hour

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