We're guessing that you probably have a love/hate relationship with happy hour. On the one hand, you love the social aspect of it, the release you feel once you're there, and—of course—the snacks. (Wings! Chips! Guac! Oh, my!) But at the same time, you hate it because of those very snacks—they're not exactly healthy, especially when combined with the extra kJs from the drinks.
So we asked Dr Keri Gans, author of The Small Change Diet, for her top stay-slim-at-happy-hour tips:
BEFORE YOU GO…
Have a snack: We're talking a real snack, though, not the last crumbs of your co-worker's birthday cake. Anything with a protein/carb combo works, like low-fat yogurt and a piece of fruit. Do this so you won't be starving when you get to the bar, which is the fastest way to end up housing nachos.
Make dinner plans: One of the biggest dangers of happy hour is not having anywhere to go afterward because you end up adopting the "well, this is my dinner" mentality and ordering a burger with the works. Do not do this. Having a destination in mind, even if it's just cooking with your boyfriend or roommates at home, makes it easier to not order bar munchies. After all, you know you'll be eating better food later.
WHEN YOU'RE AT THE BAR…
Go hard: And by hard, we mean hard liquor. Seriously! Liquor-based cocktails like whiskey gingers or tequila sodas have a stronger taste, so you’re less likely to drink excessively—which is great since that usually leads to consuming tons of empty kJs from alcohol and making poor eating choices later on.
If you're going to order snacks, order them before you start drinking: That way, the booze won't have lowered your inhibitions yet, so you’re more likely to make a healthier choice. Stay away from fried anything, and go for something grilled (like grilled calamari) or tomato-based (like bruschetta), which will lower the kJ count.
Put the freebie bowl of popcorn on another table: Most bars don't have public bowls of snacks anymore, but some still do, so be cautious—they're way easy to mindlessly munch from as you're sitting there dissecting the latest horrible email from your boss. Get up and place them on another table so you won't even be tempted. And don't be embarrassed about it...blame it on germs if you have to!