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Calories don't count after midnight, right?

May 22, 2012|By Emily Van Zandt, RedEye

"Someone take these fries away from me! I have to eat at the next bar."

Typical Thursday night.

Since taking up the shot glass-encrusted mantle of RedEye's nightlife producer, my diet has become less than stellar. Try eating wings as a nightcap four days a week and let me know how ready you are for swimsuit season.

But while I can't blame the bars entirely (I could log more gym time and opt for more veggies at lunch), it's pretty obvious that if you're trying to lose weight, most Chicago bars and pubs should be on your do-not list.

The problem is universal. A recent post on NPR's food blog "The Salt" broke down images of Earth at different times of day with dots ranging from green (healthy) to red (unhealthy) popping up as people ate throughout the day. The verdict? As it gets later, we eat more junk.

While the study didn't break down why this happens, it's not hard to guess. Just take a calorie count of some of the trendiest bar snacks this year: deviled eggs, chicken liver mousse spread on butter-soaked toast and charcuterie plates for days. And that's just the trendy crap. We still have to do battle with the likes of egg-topped burgers, macaroni-and-cheese pizza and Portillo's/Taco Bell/McDonald's/whatever-is-still-open on the way home.

Can't a girl get a couple crudites past 1 a.m.? Maybe a smidge of hummus?

Even in the age of Skinny Girl Everydrink, it's rare to find a late-night menu that includes healthy options. Instead, we turn to the fried and the coated to soak up the damage we're doing. And rightfully so—if you've been downing cocktails since 6 p.m., there's no salad in the world that can undo that damage at midnight.

If you're truly watching your health, you probably shouldn't be fading out every weekend. But you should still be able to grab a couple drinks without fear of derailing what you worked hard for in the gym that week.

Maybe my penchant for southern snacks has me ignoring some tasty, waist-friendly options when I'm out, but I'm hard-pressed to name more than a couple late-night dishes that fit the bill. So fill me in, RedEye readers—if you're still trying to lose a few pounds before June, do you go out or hide at home? E-mail or tweet me some recommendations for healthy(ish) bar food options and you just might see them in RedEye soon.

Emily Van Zandt is a RedEye reporter. If you tell her to pack healthy snacks in her purse she will laugh at you. evanzandt@tribune.com | @redeyedrinks

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