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Healthy Happy Hour Hacks

By Staci Amend
December 3, 2014

Following a weight loss programespecially Jenny Craig—doesn’t mean you have to put your social life on hold. We understand that life doesn’t come to a screeching halt just because you’ve decided to make healthier choices! There will always be client lunches, weekend getaways, tailgating parties, happy hours and other events that present extra temptation. So can you breeze into the bar for a couple of hours without blowing a week’s worth of hard work? Absolutely. Here are just a few tips for staying on track.

Sip a little smarter
Alcohol can be a triple-whammy for dieters: it’s extremely high in calories, nearly all of those calories add minimal nutrients so they are considered as “extra” AND it’s known to lower inhibitions—which can lead to some not-so-great food choices. Nutritionally, alcohol provides 7 calories per gram, so it counts as fat and/or starch servings. For a healthier happy hour, your best bet is a non-alcoholic “mocktail” like seltzer water with a splash of fruit juice and a wedge of lime. People who don’t drink do this all the time; they’re refreshing and totally guilt free. If you do decide to drink, choose wine or light beer over sugary mixed drinks and try to limit yourself to one glass.

Watch those weekends.
A study at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill revealed that women consume about 115 more calories on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday than they do on weekdays. It makes perfect sense, right? You’ve curbed your cravings all week long, so it’s easy to justify letting go just a bit. But over the course of a year, those extra 300–400 calories (about half a candy bar) can add up to an extra nine pounds! It’s a helpful bit of math to keep in your mind when you’re about to reach for the beer nuts.

Steer clear of salty snacks.
Obviously, bars and restaurants were designed for people to indulge in food and drink—and happy hour food caters specifically to the “drunk munchies” crowd. You’re likely to find lots of greasy, cheesy, salty foods on your happy hour menu: foods that can ruin a week’s worth of healthy eating in one serving! If you know that bar snacks are a temptation for you, don’t be afraid to tuck a bag of Jenny Craig Cheese Curls into your purse. And when your bartender offers you a menu, politely decline.

Skip the bar altogether.
As the name suggests, it’s the HOUR that’s happy—and it doesn’t necessarily have to take place in a bar! In fact, if the purpose of your gathering is to catch up with a friend, a loud bar isn’t always the best place to do that. Instead, meet your friend at a coffee shop for fat-free, sugar-free latte or an unsweetened iced tea. Or even better, plan your get-together around a workout! Take a fitness class or go for an evening walk together, and both of you will benefit from your outing.

Get back on the wagon.
So… those four smart tips you just read? Maybe they didn’t exactly happen. Perhaps you had a couple of drinks—and a couple of snacks—that were definitely not on your plan. Now what? Well, berating yourself for one little slip-up isn’t going to make you feel any better… and continuing to stray off-track won’t, either. So get right back on that healthy-eating wagon. Tomorrow is always another day!

Related Content:
Dining Out? Plan Ahead!
It’s Okay to Splurge Every Now and Then
Healthy Eating During the Holidays: You CAN do this