Kicking back with a drink might be how you unwind, but have you ever thought about making that sip a bit healthier? It turns out, you can mix a bit of mindfulness with your merlot or margarita. Whether it’s opting for lower-calorie options, slashing the sugar, or just making smarter choices about what you mix your liquor with, there’s plenty you can do to make your happy hour a little happier for your body.

Here are 13 tweaks and tips to keep in mind next time you’re pouring yourself a glass, all aimed at enjoying responsibly while keeping an eye on your health.

Note: The content of this article is not intended as medical advice.

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Add Fruit or Veggies

A cucumber margarita with ice cubes and cucumber slices.
Serrano Cucumber Margarita. Photo credit: Running to the Kitchen.

Adding fruit or veggies to your drinks not only improves the aesthetics; it’s a great way to infuse natural flavors and nutrients. This approach encourages more water consumption through the fruits’ water content and ups your intake of vitamins and minerals, making your drink a tad healthier. Muddled berries, ginger, lemon and mint all make for great tasting drinks.

Choose Lower ABV Alcohols

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Opting for alcohols with a lower ABV (alcohol by volume) can help reduce overall alcohol intake per drink. This means you can enjoy a social evening without overloading on alcohol, keeping your consumption moderate and reducing the risk of a nasty hangover. Hard kombucha drinks are having a moment lately and they’re a great lower ABV option.

Make Them “Skinny” By Reducing the Sugar

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We’ve all heard the terminology of making a drink “skinny” before. If you’re wondering what that actually means, however, it’s usually just cutting down on the sugar. This simple approach can significantly reduce empty calories. Not only does it help in managing your calorie intake but also lessens the risk of a sugar crash. Any drink where sugar is a main ingredient, like a mojito, can easily be made skinny.

Measure the Alcohol

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Keeping track of how much alcohol you’re pouring into your drinks can help maintain moderation and prevent overindulgence. Measuring out your alcohol ensures you know exactly how much you’re consuming. Limit pours to one or one and a half ounces.

Skip the Mixes

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Pre-made mixes often come loaded with sugars and unnecessary calories. By skipping them and opting for fresh ingredients, you can control what goes into your drink, keeping it as healthy as possible while still enjoying the flavors you love.

Opt for 100% Fruit Juice

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Using 100% fruit juice instead of sugary sodas, mixes or fruit cocktails can add natural sweetness and nutrients to your drinks. This choice offers a healthier alternative, providing vitamins and avoiding artificial flavors and added sugars. Using something like 100% pomegranate juice in a simple vodka, pomegranate and soda actually allows you to enjoy some naturally occurring antioxidants and help counteract the effects of the alcohol.

Turn it Into a Spritzer

Two glasses of mojito with lime and mint on a wooden surface.
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Diluting your drink with some club soda not only stretches your beverage but also reduces the alcohol content per serving. This spritzer approach keeps you hydrated and makes your drink last longer, all while cutting down on alcohol consumption. Love a glass of wine while you cook dinner? Make it a spritzer instead and see how much better you feel and sleep at night!

Alternate Alcohol and Alcohol-Free Drinks

A refreshing glass of peach iced tea, a healthier way to drink alcohol, garnished with fresh peach slices and mint on a rustic table.
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Alternating between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks is a smart way to stay hydrated and keep alcohol consumption in check. This strategy helps pace your drinking, reduces alcohol intake, and minimizes hangover symptoms the next day. You don’t have to choose boring water either in between drinks. Go for something that looks just as exciting as your alcoholic drink like club soda, splash of juice, lime and mint.

Use Vodka or Gin as Your Base

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Vodka and gin are lower in calories compared to many other spirits, making them a good base for healthier cocktails. They blend well with non-sugary mixers, allowing for a lighter drink that doesn’t skimp on the fun.

Replace Syrups with Honey or Maple Syrup

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Swapping out artificial syrups for natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup can reduce your intake of refined sugars. These natural options offer a subtle sweetness and bring a richer flavor profile to your drinks, along with some added nutrients.

Swap High-Calorie Sodas For Club Soda

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Club soda is a calorie-free mixer that can replace sugary sodas in your cocktails, reducing the overall calorie count. It adds the fizz and fun to your drink without the added sugar, making your alcoholic beverage lighter on the waistline. Any time I see a drink I like with sprite or ginger ale in the mix, I simply ask the bartender to swap it for club soda.

Pick a Smaller Glass

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Choosing a smaller glass can naturally limit the amount of alcohol you consume in one sitting. It’s a simple yet effective way to enjoy your favorite drinks responsibly, without going overboard.

Embrace the Mocktail Trend

A glass of blackberry lemonade with ice and mint.
Blackberry Lemon Mocktail. Photo credit: Running to the Kitchen.

Diving into the mocktail trend lets you enjoy the ritual of drinking without the alcohol. Mocktails can be just as creative and delicious as their alcoholic counterparts, offering a healthy and inclusive option for everyone in the party. They’re also having a moment lately and a whole new industry of non-alcoholic spirits is flourishing because of it. If you think you’ll spend a lot less on these drinks though, think again. They’re certainly not cheap but they can be just as fun as the boozy ones!

10 Risky Foods That You’re Better Off Avoiding According To Food Safety Experts

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Not to dampen your foodie spirit, but some eats come with a side of risk that’s not listed in the description. From raw sprouts that could be throwing a bacteria party, to that rare steak from your favorite restaurant that’s playing with danger, this guide walks you through the minefield of risky eats out there and offers some safer, just-as-tasty alternatives to try instead.

See Them Here: 10 Risky Foods That You’re Better Off Avoiding According To Food Safety Experts

10 Foods Safe To Leave Out Overnight And Still Enjoy

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Ever found yourself wondering if that pizza slice is still good after spending the night on the counter? We’ve all faced the late-night dilemma of whether to fridge it or risk it. Here’s a list of foods that can safely hang out on your counter overnight and still be tasty and safe to eat the next day. No more need to guess!

See Them Here: 10 Foods Safe To Leave Out Overnight And Still Enjoy

Top 10 Most Common Food Safety Mistakes People Make At Home

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Navigating kitchen safety can sometimes feel like walking through a minefield of dos and don’ts. Let’s shed some light on the common food safety mistakes that sneak into our daily routines. By understanding and adjusting these small, often overlooked actions, we can significantly improve our food handling practices and keep our kitchens and families safe.

See Them Here: Top 10 Most Common Food Safety Mistakes People Make At Home

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Founder and Writer at Running to the Kitchen | About

Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.

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