Does your heart get all fluttery and happy when someone texts you and asks those two magical words – “patio tonight?” Us too.

The morning after a night of poutine and pinot, not so much. We know why overindulging is bad for us: cocktails have lots of calories without any nutritional benefits. In addition, “drinking in the evenings and staying up late can mess with your sleep schedule and cause dehydration,” says Toronto-based registered dietitian Shauna Lindzon.

Given that we don’t want to miss out on the short window of patio time our north-of-the-45th-parallel life offers us, we asked the experts how to navigate happy hour the healthiest way possible.


Make it fresh: Skip over the pre-mixed margaritas – this isn’t spring break 2007 – and choose drinks with fresh ingredients like mint leaves, ginger or fresh-fruit purees, says Lindzon. (At least you’ll get some nutrients.) White-wine spritzers are another fave low-calorie option.

Drink water, and lots of it: You should have a full glass of water for every alcoholic beverage you drink. We know, we know, that’s waiting-in-line-for-the-post-office levels of exciting. If you’re not a big fan of tap (who is), registered dietitian Jessica Tong suggests sparkling water, herbal teas or water flavoured with fresh herbs and cut-up fruit.

Skip the greasy snacks: Yes, nachos and beer go better together than Bella Hadid and the Weeknd. Have a handful by all means, but then order a something a little less nutritionally disastrous. Lindzon recommends plates with at least two different coloured veggies and lean protein like grilled chicken or fish. Fibre (beans, lentils, brown rice and whole-grain bread) is also key. “It helps to manage blood sugar control and keep you fuller for longer,” says Tong.

Take your vitamin C: All those late nights out can be hard on your immune system. “Vitamin C has potent antioxidant properties and helps to boost immune function,” says Tong. Bell peppers contains 1.5 times more Vitamin C than oranges and kiwis double.

Ask yourself, do you really need a patio date for the seventh night in a row? Why not take a walk in the park or grab a coffee with a friend instead? Your body and your wallet will thank you.