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A Healthier Happy Hour

Web MD -- Spring is officially here, and longer, warmer days mean getting outside and being active after a winter of hibernation. Spring also means getting social: ‘tis the season of happy hour(s) after all.

Happy hour is traditionally the bane of all things healthy. Two-for-one deals on beers, margaritas, and mudslides lead to absent-minded munching on chips, nuts, and pretzels. Should you have more than a few drinks, you are increasingly likely to be lead down the greasy fried appetizer path, which turns into late-night pizza or Chinese takeout. Then comes the next morning… But spring and summer happy hours don't have to end in a beer belly or hangover disaster – it starts with what you're drinking.

-          Beer doesn't have to be banished from the menu. In fact compared to many mixed and blended drinks beers are a better option, but make them light. Light beers like Bud light, Corona light etc. are under 110 calories/bottle. Darker beers can be double that

-          Wine is a winner too: no matter who's pouring it, 5oz of white or red will be 110-120 calories/glass

-          Mix drinks with club soda (aka seltzer). Skip soda and juices and even nix tonic water from your ordering repertoire. They are all empty sugar calories.

-          Freshly made margaritas are a great choice if they came from real ingredients (lime, tequila, and orange liqueur). But skip the pre-made mixes and blended frozen ones: they are straight up sugar, sodium, fake flavorings, and food dyes mixed with bottom-shelf tequila. That's a hangover waiting to happen.

-          The simpler the better! Be careful of "specialty cocktails" like mudslides, white Russians, and even fancy-sounding apple or pomegranate martinis.

Just like when you go to a restaurant, keep track of how many drinks you consume. These calories add up very quickly. If you're a frequent happy hour go-er, here's a challenge: can you keep your drinks in single digits for the week? How about under 5?

What's your go-to drink in the warmer months? Have you ever changed it to stay healthier? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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