If you’re having a hard time getting in the holiday spirit, perhaps a festive drink will help get you in the mood. While seasonal specialty coffees are a traditional favourite, they’re often a sneaky source of fat and calories which can pack on the pounds.
On this episode of The Perfect Bite, host Andrea Jenna is joined by registered dietitian Elaine Clark from Me and You Nutrition. They look at five popular holiday drinks and reveal which one is the worst for you.
“Since the average medium size coffee has 300-500 calories and 10-14 teaspoons of sugar, I’d definitely consider them to be a dessert rather than just a drink," Elaine explains.
But, of course there are ways to enjoy these decadent drinks without absorbing the calories of a meal.
“You can order your holiday drink in a small size, opt for skim or 1% milk when that’s available, choose half a flavour shot instead of a full, or go with a blended drink of half holiday coffee, half regular coffee,” she suggests. “And always skip the whip. That step alone will save you 100 calories and 6 grams of saturated fat.”
“You could go with an unsweetened, flavoured coffee, like hazelnut or Irish Cream, a small non-fat latte, or a flavoured tea such as peppermint,” Elaine says. “Even if you need to add a little sugar and milk to any of those drinks, you’re still going to come out with far less calories than a sweetened holiday drink.”
McDonald's McCafé Peppermint Mocha (Second best choice: medium, 2% milk: 310 calories, 10 g fat, 42 g sugars)
“It’s pretty diluted,” says Elaine after taking a sip. “This is not very strong.”
“No,” agrees Andrea. “But the peppermint kicks in after.”
While this wasn’t the healthiest option, it did come in a close second, with 310 calories, 42 grams of sugar and 10 grams of fat.
Second Cup Candy Cane Latte (Least healthy: medium, 2% milk, no whipped cream: 420 calories, 13 g fat, 55 g sugars)
“Wow,” exclaims Elaine. “There’s a lot of sugar in that.”
“I don’t even taste anything, it’s just sugar and milk,” says Andrea.
While the sugary taste might be yummy, this drink packs a wallop when it comes to calories and sugar.
“By far it would be the Second Cup Candy Cane,” Elaine says when asked what the worst drink is. “It has 420 calories, 10 grams of the artery-clogging saturated fat, 14 teaspoons of sugar, and it has 370 milligrams of sodium.”
“That’s like five shakes from a salt shaker into your drink,” she continues.
Starbucks Peppermint Mocha (Andrea’s favourite, grande, 2% milk, no whipped cream: 330 calories, 8 g fat, 52 g sugars)
“I know which one this is,” Andrea says of this popular holiday beverage. “This is what Santa drinks!”
“I get the after peppermint to it, and it’s sort of a cocoa-y chocolate taste,” Elaine says.
While this beverage wasn’t the healthiest, Elaine reveals that it actually has the least amount of saturated fat, at four grams. However, a whopping 13 teaspoons of sugar puts this drink in third place overall.
Timothy’s Peppermint Swirl Latte (Elaine’s favourite, medium, no whipped cream: 360 calories, 13 g fat, 39 g sugars)
“Very milky,” comments Elaine after trying this holiday treat. “It doesn’t taste overly sweet.”
“It’s almost like a toffee or something,” Andrea says.
Tim Hortons Peppermint Chocolate Latte (Most healthy option: medium: 230 calories, 7 g fat, 29 g sugars)
“Not a lot of taste,” Andrea comments.
“No, not flavoured at all,” Elaine agrees. “It’s not rich chocolatey like it looks like it would be.”
Even though the taste testers weren’t crazy about how this beverage tasted, it was the healthiest option of the bunch.
“Nutritionally, the best here is going to actually be the Tim Hortons,” the nutritionist says. “It had the least number of calories and sugar of all the rest of them, and it was on the lower end for saturated fat compared to the rest of the drinks here, coming in at 230 calories, 6 grams of saturated fat and 7 teaspoons of sugar.”
What's your favourite holiday drink to indulge in? Do you agree with our taste testers' choices? Let us know in the comments below.