Indulging in drink after drink is never a good idea for your health or your waistline, but there are ways to indulge in moderation and have a little fun without the guilt.
Alternate cocktails with water. Most of us don’t drink enough water, and alcohol significantly contributes to dehydration. If you plan to stay awhile, sip slowly and alternate drinks with a glass of water.
Even if you just have one drink, sipping a glass of water before and after will help ensure you stay hydrated so that your energy levels aren’t depleted and you won’t feel sluggish and unmotivated in the morning.
Choose wine over sangria. While sangria may seem like the lighter, “healthier” choice, many varieties have added ingredients like syrups, liqueurs or soda that add up to a lot more calories, often well over 200 calories a glass.
Plus mixers like that typically contain unwanted ingredients like lots of sugar or even high fructose corn syrup. A five-ounce glass of Merlot has just 115 calories and is filled with antioxidants that contribute to better health.
Mix drinks with seltzer water instead of other carbonated waters. Doing this will help eliminate consuming the added sodium and other unwanted substances.
Use only fresh-squeezed or 100 percent fruit juice. This also helps to limit added sugars. As even pure fruit juice contains a lot of natural sugar, you may want to dilute it with water and/or ice to reduce calorie and sugar intake.
Make your own simple syrup. When a drink recipe calls for simple syrup, make your own by mixing ½ tablespoon of organic, raw honey and ¾ tablespoon warm water. Although honey contains natural sugars, by choosing organic, raw honey you’ll also get a healthy dose of antioxidants.
Don’t use large glasses. Stick to 8 ounce glasses. It’s too easy to over consume when a large glass is used. Those liquid calories add up quicker than you think.
Have a healthy snack first. Before joining in on happy hour, enjoy a healthy snack like a handful of raw, organic almonds so you won’t be tempted by happy hour specials on the menu, or lose your inhibitions and consume too much alcohol.
Make smarter drink choices. Drinks like frozen margaritas and strawberry daiquiris taste delicious, but they’re filled with sugar and often come with a host of other not-so-healthy ingredients like high fructose corn syrup. Smarter choices include lighter, clearer drinks such as a vodka with seltzer water or a glass or red wine.
If you’re making your own, use fresh, whole fruit or fresh-squeezed fruit juice instead of sugar or syrup. For example, a grapefruit/vodka is a peppy cocktail that can be made by combining the juice of ½ a grapefruit with 1 shot of vodka topped with ½ cup seltzer.
Or, try the “Drunken Arnold Palmer” by using a number of nutritious ingredients. Just combine a black tea bag with ¾ cup hot water, the juice of one lemon and one teaspoon of raw, organic honey. Chill, and then add one shot of vodka, using a lemon wedge as your garnish.
Being healthy doesn’t always have to mean forgoing happy hour. Of course, you can have a different kind of happy hour without the alcohol too. Meet up with your friends at a local coffeehouse where you can kick back and listen to poetry readings or even a local music performance. Even better, go for a walk together around the park on a nice day, or hit the gym.
-The Alternative Daily