More often than not, getting together with friends involves eating – and lots of calories in the form of food and drink. We catch up at happy hour, where the drinks and apps are plentiful, or over a dinner out, where chefs are liberal with butter and oil and it’s hard to say no to dessert. But it doesn’t have to be this way: There are a variety of fun ways to get together with friends that won’t lead to calorie overload.
Invite friends over for dinner
When you serve dinner, you're in charge. You can serve a delicious meal, but in reasonable-size portions without unnecessary added fat and salt. “It’s much healthier because it’s within your control and you’ll have plenty of time to catch up without being in a loud, crowded restaurant where you might [feel] rushed,” says Keri Gans, R.D.N., a nutrition consultant in New York City and author of The Small Change Diet: 10 Steps to a Thinner, Healthier You.
Walk and talk
Meet a friend or a group of pals in the park to swap stories and catch each other on the latest news, suggests Jennifer Cohen, a fitness expert in Los Angeles and author of No Gym Required. If you usually get coffee when you get together, get it to go and enjoy it while you stroll (and burn off the calories).
Get a manicure or pedicure together
Instead of spending money on happy hour or dinner, why not go to a salon where you can sit and get pampered together? You’ll have the chance to catch up on each other’s lives and decompress at the same time, Gans says.
Meet a friend for breakfast
“People tend to make healthier choices at breakfast than they do at dinner,” Gans says. “Plus, drinks and desserts aren’t offered at breakfast so there are fewer opportunities to go down a path you wouldn’t want to.”
Play tourist together
Go sightseeing at museums, monuments and other landmarks on foot or bike, suggests Cohen. "You'll have a chance to chat and get a dose of activity and culture while you're at it. It's a win-win situation."
Go out for a light dessert
Meet for frozen yogurt -- minus a lot of extra toppings -- and you’ll be able to enjoy a healthy sweet treat and catch up with a friend, says Dawn Jackson Blatner, R.D.N., author of The Flexitarian Diet. A hidden benefit: “It’s easier to eat less at dinner when you know you have dessert coming,” she says.
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