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6 Snack Recommendations for 3 Popular Social Spots

By , Staff Writer
Tuesday: Meet mom for coffee. Thursday: Birthday happy hour for Carol at that killer place down the street, you know, the one with the perfect jukebox? Friday: Date night at the movies.
Sound familiar? Unless you're The Bachelor being whisked away by a private jet for dates to hike in Montana or jet ski in Tahiti, chances are the majority of your social outings revolve around the food and drink scene. Whether it's a date night or a friend night penciled in on your social calendar, the opportunities for an outing to throw off your carefully planned nutrition are plentiful for the average person. No one wants to be a hermit, after all.
Jackie Lynch, a Registered Nutritional Therapist and author of "The Right Bite," knows how difficult it can be to keep up with friends and family while maintaining a diet in the pursuit of healthy living. "As anyone who has gone on a diet knows, it's fine when you're at home—you manage the ingredients, you manage the portions—but outside, it's a minefield. You don't know [the ingredients hiding] inside and the portions are wrong," she says. "Most of my clients are very busy, working people. I would write a beautiful program for them to follow, but then they're at work, they're busy and they would dash out to grab a bite and wouldn't know what I would recommend for them [to eat]."
The book dives into eight popular places for food decisions that happen on the go, working to educate readers on the key nutrition facts they should know before venturing out into our calorie-soaked world and, ultimately, liberating them to understand food choices better. Lynch, who gave up a corporate job to start training in nutrition 10 years ago, says that there is a lot of peer pressure and a sense of not being able to join in if you can't treat yourself to food or alcohol while socializing. The key is finding ways to celebrate without overindulging.
Lynch recommends looking at a menu to find things with the most protein, which will fill you up longer. She also suggests preparing by measuring out a portion of your favorite social snack at home to see what it looks like in real life. "You can't spend your life weighing things out and stressing," she says. "But you can practice and train yourself to know your portions. Sometimes it's a revelation for people."
Next time you hit the town with an old friend or a dear family member, merge your social life with your healthy life and grab one of these six smarter items.

Coffee Shop

Thanks to Central Perk, Café Nervosa or maybe just the many writers creating their masterpieces at Starbucks, there is no doubt that the rise of the coffee shop meet-up is showing no signs of slowing down. The coffee shop's convenience, caffeine and casual vibes make it the place of choice for a quick catch-up with a friend, a first date or just a morning gab session with a colleague before work. Beware, though: Major calorie offenders are probably staring you right in the eye as you order your green tea. The muffins, coffee cakes and cookies enticing you from the glass case are typically loaded with enough sugar to throw off your entire day. Ignore their temptations and nosh on these nibbles instead.

The Right Bite: Almond Biscotti
"The clear winner here, as it's lower in sugar and fat than the other coffee bar options. Blending almonds with the flour ups the fiber content, keeping you going for longer and has the added benefit of small amounts of energy-boosting vitamins and minerals, such as zinc, iron and B vitamins."
Honorable Mention: Bran Muffin
"Don't be fooled by the fact that they may be slightly higher in calories than other muffins, because they contain at least twice as much fiber which is great news. Fiber has the 'fullness factor' which keeps you going for longer, so you won't get the munchies later on."

Bars and Pubs

Barney Stinson maybe said it best when he declared, "Hanging out at a coffee place is not nearly as much fun as hanging out at a bar." They don't call it happy hour for nothing. If music and musings on life with your favorite bartender is how you unwind after a hard day at the office, keep in mind that the calories you drink—especially those from alcohol—can be just as damaging to your diet as those you eat. When you step up to the bar, be sure that you're picking the right beverage to stay on track with your overall goals.

The Right Bite: Vodka Soda
"Vodka and soda is the smart choice here if you want to keep the calories and the sugar content to a minimum as it contains less than half the calories of a glass of wine or beer and only traces of sugar. It's also a great way to keep the alcohol content low, as a single serving contains just one unit of alcohol."
Honorable Mention: Red Wine
"If wine is your preferred tipple, then red wine is the one to choose. It will be far kinder to your waistline than medium white wine or sparkling wine, which contain about 20 times more sugar per glass."

At the Movies

When did catching up with the happenings in the Marvel Universe become synonymous with inhaling a bucket of artificial butter-soaked popcorn larger than your head? Fact: Mindlessly munching in the pitch black doesn’t mean the calories don't exist. If you're not down for sneaking in some lighter fare, Lynch recommends sticking to smaller portions of whatever is available at the counter and stay away from heaping on extra toppings. Keep everything in moderation at this calorie factory and focus instead on the cinematic masterpiece or so-bad-it's-great flick in front of you.

The Right Bite: Nachos
"Despite the high carb content, nachos have more mileage in health terms than any other classic movie snack, provided that you're smart about the topping. Opting for guacamole could make all the difference. Avocado is a great source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and it also contains some protein, which will keep you going for longer, reducing the risk of sugar cravings later in the movie. Adding spicy tomato salsa will give you a great antioxidant boost."
Honorable Mention: Small Popcorn
"If a movie just isn't the same without popcorn, then opt for the smallest size available and try sharing to reduce the portion further. Regular salted popcorn is a starchy option, but it's still the better choice if you're trying to keep in shape, as sugar content is minimal. It's crucial to keep away from sweet popcorn—even a small serving contains at least four to five teaspoons of sugar."
Social lives often take a hit when dieting gets introduced, but with a little planning and some smart decision-making in the face of peer pressure, your calendar can stay full while your waistline shrinks.
What are your smart suggestions for sticking to a diet or fitness plan while staying active with friends and family? 

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WANT2BTRIM 6/22/2021
Thanks Report
JULIJULINN 5/31/2021
TU Report
CECELW 4/7/2021
I love almond biscotti Report
CD24069739 4/7/2021
Thank you Report
NANCY- 4/7/2021
Water and a hard candy tucked in my cheek to suck on, for the movies. Report
NEPTUNE1939 4/7/2021
ty Report
Great suggestions. Report
Thanks Report
Thanks. Report
LIS193 4/7/2021
Thanks Report
I rather favor the coffee drinks at Mcdonald's than Starbucks. They are cheaper and taste good even though I only had them once. Otherwise, I had a Shamrock Shake at Mcdonalds which I think has more calories than their coffee drinks! Report
WOW...thanks! Report
MOONDRAGON31 12/3/2020
Great article Report
Thanks for sharing Report
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
Hubby & I go out every day. I have lost weight do you just learn. Sometimes I just get an appetizer or soup & salad. I often take my own homemade salad dressing. Other times we split an entree or ask for kiddie menu. They honor for seniors & most servers don't care if you want to eat less. Options can be limited but we manage. I drink lots of ice tea & also whiskey w/ soda. A splurge will happen but life is to be lived so a beer or cocktail now & then is just tracked knowing it'll be veggies only if I am hungry later on. Not too big on coffee but when drinking it black for dessert might have a brandy shot in it once a year or a pony of amaretto in place of dessert. As for movies, we don't go much & hit the early show so food isn't that tempting. Who wants popcorn at 10 in the morning!? Report
I think it has been 20 years or more since I was in a bar, and even longer for the movies. There aren’t really any movie places within 90 mile one way trip, same with the coffee houses. Report
It's a good idea to have a "go to" plan for places you know you'll be going to.
The info about wine is way off - dry white wine and particularly very dry sparkling wine have less calories than red wine. Red wine is good for other reasons, but it is not lower in sugar and calories. Numbers come straight from the Sparkpeople database. Report
going to movie today with my sons and do not plan on eating. My usually movie fare is popcorn and soda but not so much now. Report
I like the ideas presented here. I am not against bringing a light snack to the movies, usually popcorn rice cakes. I also never thought of the almond biscotti. Report
Thanks for the info Report
thanks Report
I have learned to snack healthy. Report
Good information. Report
I must say I do enjoy my appetizers but I don't over do it. Enjoy the company and take sips of water. Report
I love snacks but this is not a super big temptation for me foodwise - usually just my coffee is the treat, don't really do bars, and at movies a diet soda at the most - the movie is the real treat. Report
I'm a mixed bag. Sometimes I will splurge on the calories a little for a social event. But usually I am really good at looking at the menu online before I go and picking out that item that has the best bang for the caloric buck. Then I don't even look when I am in the restaurant because I don't want to be tempted. I never EVER comment on what other diners are eating, because frankly I don't like it when people are critical of my choices, so why would I want to give what I wouldn't want to receive. Report
Sharing = Portion Control
Having 'a bite' of a indulgence can be less calories/carbs/sugars than a serving of the right bite. Report
I love eating out but it is not a threat to actually makes it easier....I just bring half home. Report
I love the concept of the “right” bite...making informed, conscious choices. Amen! For me, going out with others is honestly all about the people, Measuring similar items at home in order to visualize the correct portion later?! Genius, I will absolutely try this! Report
im a party pooper, if we go out to movies or anywhere we eat at home first then just get large ice waters to drink, we only go out to eat about once a year (theyre stuck with my cooking the rest of the year lol) Report
I have no problem making good choices while I am out. It's all the people who make poor choices that make it hard. Seeing and smelling stuff you can't have can be unbearable. If it's too much, sometimes I will get a diet soda with my water. I never drink soda, so it's very sweet to me and seems like a treat. It can settle down my overwhelming sense to go crazy and eat everything. The carbonation is super bloating as well which makes it hard to over eat. I also use gum as a distraction. It gives my mouth something to do and taste. Report
It isn't the food choices that I find challenging while dining out, it's comments from others regarding my choices and the food / drink pushing that often occurs. Report
Gertrude1927 - it's the sugar content. Sparkling wine has fewer calories, but more sugar. There's also the resveratrol factor, which favors red wine. Report
champagne has fewer calories than red or white wine so why is red wine better? Report
If a person is really super worried, stay home, have friends who know you well bring their own snacks, because they understand your struggle and are tired of your complaints whenever you go out together. Report
Welll ... I must be a real party-pooper, as my social life usually revolves around well lit restaurants with friends so I can easily lipread. Dark bars and coffee shops, not so much, although I sure treat myself to coffeeshops. These days I ask if they have coconut milk or whole cream that I can use in my coffee, rather than half and half or artificial creamers. I have my own milk allergy/sensitivities. I'm also having them leave out the sweetened goo, and using my own stevia (or some of the rare independent coffeeshops not bound by "corporate" rules DO actually carry stevia - but not StarBuck$.). I have them leave off the whipped cream (that way they have to fill the cup all the way to the top with the actual coffee product - none of this filling it half way for the $3-5 bucks and then filling the space up with sugary gooy whipped cream topping!!). And I'll add cinnamon and nutmeg etc. I just do what I can!! Report