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My Starbucks Holiday Season Health(ish) Ordering Tips

While I'm still slowing down with my coffee intake and being mindful of hydrating myself(rather than having 2-3 coffees a day), I can't resist a good Starbucks holiday drink sometimes either. Luckily for me, my new place is quite the trek to the nearest Starbucks location, so I'm not tempted to go as often, but when I do get a chance to go, I'm switching up my order in a way that makes it a little bit healthier(without compromising taste) and makes me feel better afterwards too(instead of feeling sugar-crashy).

First, here's a rule that I live by....

The things I'm choosing to eat or drink should fit my criteria. And some of the things in my criteria list is choosing things that TASTE GOOD but that aren't filled with tons of sugar or artificial ingredients. As the consumers, we're allowed to ask for what we want, with the only real risk being that your request can't be fulfilled. When I go into Starbucks or any cafe or restaurant, I'm not worried about sounding "too extra" Because you're allowed to ask for what you want and what's going to be the best option for you!

Some things to remember about Starbucks...

1. Starbucks(and a lot of independent cafes too) can make your drink "extra hot": I know, this one sounds super "extra", but if you're taking your Starbucks to go on a long drive or outdoors to a market, you might be like me and want your drink to stay hot for longer. When you're ordering your drink just say "extra hot please" and they'll steam it a bit longer for you. 2. They have a variety of dairy-free options too: if regular milk/dairy products don't sit well with you, don't be afraid to ask for their variety of dairy-free options: almond milk, coconut milk, and oatmilk(holiday drinks can be made with these too). 3. Starbucks typically makes their own whipping cream in house: why is this good to know? Because it means they usually carry full-fat(35%) whipping cream behind the counter. Personally, when I visit a Starbucks and I'm ordering a coffee, I like a splash of this heavy cream(sometimes referred to as whipping cream) to be added in. Because it's full-fat, it makes it very low in sugar(usually 0-1g of sugar per carton) and it makes for a good blood sugar-balancing addition. *if you can tolerate dairy.

Here's how I make my order healthy'ish...

Option 1: turn your regular order into something fun! When I'm at Starbucks, I love a tall or grande americano(1 shot espresso + water). But during the holidays, or any time of the year where I feel like switching it up, I ask for a flavour shot to be added in: peppermint, hazelnut or vanilla. They even have syrups like gingerbread or pumpkin spice(in the fall) you could ask for as well, and spices like cinnamon or nutmeg too(these options are completely sugar free).

Option 2: if I do opt for a holiday drink, no matter which one I choose, I always always ask for it to be made "half sweet" or 1/4 sweet". This is because a regular grande size drink(medium) normally has 4 pumps of classic syrup + the syrup of whatever drink you chose(eg. gingerbread latte). You can even ask for your holiday drink to be made with 1 pump of vanilla(instead of the 4 pumps of classic syrup) and 1 pump of the flavouring(such as gingerbread or peppermint). I find it still tastes really good, but with way less sugar - and hopefully no sugar crash either!

An extra tip from a Nutritionist...

I know that sometimes it sounds better to choose "sugar free" sweeteners for your drinks, but from a nutrition and health standpoint, it's actually not any better for us. Artificial sugars may be effective in not spiking blood sugar levels(although that is questionable now that we're studying these sugars more), they have the potential to create damage in our gut lining and affect our digestion and absorption of nutrients in the long term. Not to mention, these "sugar-free" options have been linked to headaches/migraines and several other chronic health issues since their introduction into the food market. For me, as much as possible, I try to choose natural sweeteners such as maple syrup or honey, and when it comes to Starbucks orders when they ask me "sugar-free or regular vanilla" I always ask for regular.


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