Keep Happy Hour Happy: A Survival Guide


It has been a long week and the thought of heading out to Happy Hour and letting your hair down sounds like the perfect remedy.  Unfortunately, the pitfalls of Happy Hour can be many for your waistline…if you have not done your due diligence and armed yourself with the knowledge to make your smartest decisions.  Luckily, I have done your due diligence for you!  By the time that you are finished reading this, you should be ready to party like a pro sans the guilt that can follow a night out. 

I have categorized some of the most popular drinks and snacks for you into a spectrum ranging from your ‘Best Bets’ to your ‘Worst Bets’.  Don’t worry…it is entirely possible to maintain your figure and still enjoy yourself!

Begin by adhering to the old saying, “prevention is the best medicine”.  Before you even walk out the door, set yourself up for success.  Eating a healthy snack such as a piece of fruit or a yogurt PRIOR to going to Happy Hour will help to insure that you are not ravenous when you arrive; this will also enable you to make better choices throughout the evening.  With that said, prepare to enjoy yourself with my handy guide:


*Serving size is always an important factor to consider, as it greatly impacts the caloric value of your cocktail.  Your best bet is to stick with one alcoholic beverage and a large water on the side; by sipping them alternately, you can make your cocktail last.


  1. Wine (5 oz.)…whether you choose red or white, this classic choice is a pretty good bet for the calorie-concious.
  2. Flavored Vodka and Seltzer (5 oz.)…with a multitude of vodka flavors out there, this is a highly customizable and refreshing choice.
  3. Mimosa (6 oz.)…the perfect choice for the girl who loves a little glamour!
  4. Bloody Mary (5 oz.)…this spicy number is definitely a sipping drink which makes it a great choice for reaching your goal of ordering just one!


  1. Rum and Coke (5 oz.)…this drink will satisfy a sweet tooth.  Ordering it with Diet Coke can help to mitigate its caloric impact.
  2. Light Beer (16 oz.)…if you are more of a beer girl, choosing a light beer will help to cut calories.
  3. Screwdriver (6 oz.)…if you want something refreshing, this drink will fit the bill!


  1. Frozen Mudslide (12 oz.)…this drink is literally the worst of the worst (and yet so delicious)!  If you plan on ordering one of these, make it a special occasion choice as opposed to your typical Friday night cocktail.
  2. Long Island Iced Tea (8 oz.)…besides its potential to deliver the mother of all hangovers, this cocktail is packed with calories.
  3. Margarita (6 oz.)…this saddens me as it is my favorite cocktail.  Although I have trained myself to drink SkinnyGirl Margaritas at home, I must admit that I would NEVER even consider not ordering a giant Margarita while out at a Mexican restaurant!  Worth the calories.  Case closed.  😉

So, now that you are armed with all of this information…what are you going to nibble on?



  1. Hummus (1/4 c.)…it is natural, delicious and comes in an assortment of varieties.  Ideally you want to choose veggies for dipping vs. pita bread (but one wedge wouldn’t hurt).
  2. Chicken Satay (2 skewers MINUS the peanut sauce)…this yummy choice is packed with protein.
  3. Guacamole (1/4 cup)…true, avocados are higher in fat than most fruits; however, they are packed with nutrients and are DELICIOUS!  Just be sure to choose veggies over chips as your primary dipping vehicle.
  4. Fruit and Vegetable Platters…always a great choice!


  1. Nachos (4 nachos)…with such a small serving size : such a high calorie ratio, you really have to ask yourself…is it worth it?
  2. Buffalo Wings (3 wings)…these babies are loaded with calories!
  3. The Usual “Deep Fried” Suspects…you know ’em, you probably love ’em.  Who doesn’t?  But let’s face it…the fried Mozzarella Sticks, the fried Calamari, the French fries, the Onion Rings, the Jalapeno Poppers, the Chicken Fingers…they are all loaded down with calories, fat, and salt.  Although they taste good in the moment, as I get older the after-affects of these foods are affecting me more greatly.  I find myself feeling generally crappy and dying of a nearly unquenchable thirst for the rest of the evening.

In closing, this article is simply designed to offer you “food for thought”.  Does this mean that you should not be able to enjoy yourself when you go out?  Absolutely not!  Here’s the thing…knowledge is power.  By having spent five minutes reading this article, you now know what your best and worst options might be.  If you choose a drink which is higher in calories, then you might want to choose a healthier snack option or vice-versa.  Some nights you may just decide to “go for broke” and order whatever you please…just try not to make this your Happy Hour modus operandi.  Enjoy!

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