Be Fit, Be Healthy – That’s What Friends Are For
A night out with friends while you are trying to make healthy choices can often sideline your good intentions. What started as “just one” at the bar after work can easily spiral into a dinner of fried hot wings and mozzarella sticks, not to mention a staggering amount of liquid calories. Rather than miss out on a chance to relax and socialize, try these tips to incorporate your healthy lifestyle into your social life. You never know, you may also be helping a friend in need!
Start a Supper Club
The traditional potluck is often characterized by calorie-laden comfort foods. Instead, choose a food theme such as a region-specific cuisine (Italian, Mexican, Thai) or seasonal ingredient (pumpkin, apples, squash) and challenge friends to bring a healthy version of their favorite dish. If you are kitchen-impaired, choose one healthy entrée and a couple of side dishes and have friends help you with the preparation.
Mix and Match Your Dinner and Exercise
Hosting friends for dinner can easily cut into your already limited time for exercise. Why not combine the two? Suggest an outdoor run or group fitness class you can all take together (Zumba®, Spinning®, boot camp) and cut down on kitchen time with a “make your own” style meal. A taco bar or design-your-own pizza station loaded with fresh veggies, lean protein (beans or fish for tacos and chicken for pizza), and low-fat cheese will hit the spot after working up a sweat.
Be Your Own Bartender
Even if you avoid the tempting bar snacks at your favorite watering hole, your friendly bartender could still derail your efforts for a healthful night. Recent research from the University of Bristol indicates that a simple factor like the shape of your glass can affect the rate at which you’ll consume your drink. Combine that with the tempting high-calorie cocktails (1 Pumpkin Martini = 330 calories) and rich microbrews (1 Dogfish Head 90-minute IPA = 295 calories) found in many bars these days and you have a recipe for a drinking disaster. Instead, channel your inner mixologist and ask friends to contribute an interesting ingredient (an herb, liquor, fruit, seltzer, or syrup) for a homemade cocktail. A Hot Spiced Cider is the perfect choice for a crisp fall evening and the Campari and Orange Sparkling Cocktail and Sparkling Pomegranate Cocktail will help you take advantage of seasonal produce. By experimenting with these cocktails at home you can control the portions, avoid the high-calorie mix-ins, and put that glassware that has been sitting in your cabinet to use.
Bring the Healthy Meal to You
Breaking the calorie bank on a night out can set you back emotionally, physically, and financially. Instead, consider making the investment for a night in. Hiring a healthy chef or attending a cooking class is a fun and interesting way to spend a night with friends. Plus, splitting the cost among a group may help keep the price tag low. For an extra challenge, look for classes that will teach you how work with ingredients or prepare meals that you aren’t already familiar with. For more information on cooking classes in the Boston area, visit the Boston Center for Adult Education.
Please note the links provided are meant as resources for you. The Clubs at Charles River Park and Massachusetts General Hospital do not officially endorse any of these items.