Happy Hour, Travel and Restaurant Fare: How to Jump Health Hurdles

By: Emilie Sennebogen

Alcohol, food and vacations can be hard enough, but when you put them all together, it's a recipe for diet disaster. See more food portion pictures.

Eating healthy and nutritious food is essential if you want to maintain your proper weight and lead an active, fit lifestyle. You can set yourself up for success at home by stocking your fridge full of healthy, low-calorie and low-fat foods and beverages. The problem most people have with losing or maintaining weight is what happens outside of those closed doors. Alcohol, restaurant food and travel are three obstacles that can throw a diet off the rails pretty easily. Lucky for you, there are ways to stay on track even if you partake in happy hour, enjoy a meal out or hit the road for vacation.

Happy Hour


Everyone knows that alcohol is loaded with empty calories. But beyond those calories, alcohol also reduces the amount of fat calories you burn and can even ramp up your appetite for up to 24 hours after you've had your last cocktail. If you're a beer lover, consider making the switch to light beer. The caloric difference between a regular beer and a light beer is about 40 calories per 12 ounce serving. But beer is really something you should avoid all together at happy hour if you're looking to lose weight. Try some wine instead. A 4 ounce serving of red wine comes in at 80 calories, compared to 150 for a regular beer. White wine is even a little lower, at 75 calories [source: collegedrinkingprevention.gov]. But like anything else, your best bet at happy hour is to indulge in moderation. One or two glasses of wine shouldn't get you too far off your plan.


Eating during travel is a recipe for high-calorie and fat-rich foods, especially if you're on a road trip and all you have available is off-the-ramp fast food. The trick to eating well while on vacation is all about managing your willpower and cravings. While you may want to throw caution to the wind and indulge to your heart's content, you aren't doing yourself any favors. All the work you did pre-vacation will be for naught if you overdo it while dining out. The best way to manage your desire to indulge is to allow a little bit of it. Vacationing is no fun if you're on a strict diet, so allow yourself a treat or two without going overboard. If you're on a five-day vacation, allow yourself two indulgent meals and rein it in for the rest. Try a dessert one night and skip it the next. If you're on a road trip, look for some salad options at your favorite fast food joint.

Restaurant Fare

Eating in restaurants is a good way to pack on the pounds, because most chefs prefer to cook with the better tasting, high-fat ingredients. But with good health being on the forefront of many patrons' agendas, most restaurants these days have some solid options for healthier fare. So, it's largely up to your and your willpower to choose the heart-healthy grilled salmon with roasted vegetables over the bleu cheese and bacon burger with fries. If you aren't great at dissecting a menu, ask your server what kinds of healthy alternatives are available or if any of the other options can be prepared in a more healthful manner upon request.



Lots More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • "Alcohol Calorie Calculator." collegedrinkingprevention.gov, 2009. http://www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov/CollegeStudents/calculator/alcoholcalc.aspx
  • "Eating Heart-Healthy In Restaurants." cbsnews.com, February 17, 2009. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/02/17/earlyshow/series/health/heartscore/main4806051.shtml
  • "Eating Right When Eating on the Run." aarp.org, 2009. http://www.aarp.org/health/staying_healthy/eating/a2003-03-07-eatingrun.html
  • "Why Alcohol Calories Are More Important Than You Think." thefactsaboutfitness.com, 2009. http://www.thefactsaboutfitness.com/blog/alcohol-calories