It’s not officially the holiday season until you’re able to order Starbucks holiday drinks! Right after pumpkin spice latte season, we roll straight into white peppermint mochas, cinnamon dolce, eggnog, and just about every other holiday lattes you can think of. Knowing how to order Starbucks drinks the smart way can help you reduce the sugar risk to teeth while also minimizing the impact on your waistline!
Most of us tend to be worried about the potential weight gain we put on during the holidays. Between office snacks and leftovers to Starbucks holiday drinks, those extra calories a few extra times a day will eventually start to stack up. But the truth is they also impact our teeth just as much as our waistlines.
You see, every time you take a sip of liquid, it coats numerous tooth surfaces throughout your mouth. You might almost say sweet liquids are worse on teeth than eating straight-up candy. They get into areas that are harder to clean, such as between teeth or deep down in the tiny grooves on chewing surfaces. Do that every day and you’ll start to see an uptick in cavities.
Each time we sip on something with sugar or sweetener, those acids stick to and etch our teeth for about a half-hour period. If you’re sipping over a longer time span, you’re lengthening the contact time that acids have on your teeth.
Even non-coffee lovers typically like this one! A peppermint mocha gives you all the zing of a cup of coffee with the sweetness of hot cocoa and peppermint. Like a lot of Starbucks holiday drinks, a grande is just over 400 calories (close to 440) with approximately 54 grams of sugar. If you’re skipping breakfast or staying up late to do some holiday shopping, you can probably get away with drinking one here and there without putting on any weight. But if it becomes a part of your weekly menu, you’ll start to notice before the holidays are over.
Consider having them mix your drink as a “skinny” or with almond milk. And if you want less of one flavor than another, ask them to cut your pumps of syrup too. Each one has over 25 calories and 5 grams of sugar, respectively.
Nutrition: 65 calories, 12 grams of sugar
Danger! You can buy these babies off the shelf at the grocery store. If you’re worried you’ll indulge more than you probably need to, make yourself wait in the drive-through line so that it’s a deterrent. A grande has around 400-420 calories and 59 grams of sugar (yikes!) The iced version is on the lighter end but the Frappuccino blended option has even more sugar (65 grams!!!) A traditional venti is 70 grams of sugar and 510 calories. It’s the pump of white chocolate mocha sauce that will really get you on the sugar, so feel free to have them cut it back some. Even though you have the option to sub things out, the difference isn’t really big enough to make it a guilt-free indulgence. Let’s just say you should count on one hand the number of these Starbucks holiday drinks you have each season!
Nutrition: 73 calories and 11 grams of sugar
You’ll get about 20% of your daily calorie intake off one of these 410-calorie grande drinks, each one containing around 40-49 grams of sugar, depending on which one you get. The iced version is a bit lower than the others. Keep in mind that the average daily recommended allowance for sugar is 36 grams.
If you were to read the ingredient label, the caramel brulee sauce is the 2nd ingredient listed behind milk. And the first ingredient in the sauce is corn syrup. If you’re not used to reading labels, ingredients are always listed in the order of how much there is. It’s not a bad idea to ask them to cut back on the shots or pumps of syrup if you want to indulge once or twice this holiday season.
Nutrition: 53 calories and 10 grams of sugar
It’s like drinking a pie, isn’t it? If you’re a chestnut praline lover, you know exactly what I’m talking about. A grande of this holiday brew will come in at 330 calories and 39 grams of sugar. It’s a healthier substitute for a lot of Starbucks holiday drinks! If you get the blonde version, it’s about 10 fewer calories and 4 grams less sugar, which isn’t a lot, but it can add up. If you’re happy to cut one pump of syrup, the whipped cream, or sugar topping, you can lessen the load on your waistband and teeth. But it’s definitely not guilt-free! Opting for the short version will clock in 190 calories and 21 grams of sugar, so you won’t have to feel quite so guilty about drinking one every now and then.
Nutrition: 53 calories and 10 grams of sugar
Eggnog lattes are one of the heavier calorie drinks you’ll find during the holidays. A grande has 450 calories and 52 grams of sugar. If you didn’t already know, 4 grams of sugar is about 1 teaspoon. Soooo…we’re talking about somewhere in the vicinity of 13 teaspoons of sugar just in that one drink alone. To put things in perspective, a can of Coke “only” has about 9 teaspoons. And we’ve all seen the science fair experiments of Coke on eggshells!
Fortunately, there’s some relatively good news for eggnog latte lovers. If you’re comfortable going with the iced version, you can cut your calories down to 290, with 33 grams of sugar. That’s still a lot of sugar, but it’s just under what’s in a can of Coke. Maybe you want the taste of the syrup but it doesn’t need to be as thick or bold as a full hot brewed latte. Consider asking that they only add one pump, since each one is worth about 20 calories and 5 grams of sugar (just over one teaspoon.)
Nutrition: 33 calories and 5 grams of sugar
Blonde roast or cold brew (5 calories and 0 grams of sugar)
Splash of almond milk (8 calories and 0 grams of sugar)
One pump toffee nut syrup (20 calories and 5 grams of sugar)
A grande cinnamon dolce latte has 340 calories and contains 40 grams of sugar! A venti has 51 grams. In addition to the 4 pumps of syrup, it also has whipped cream and sprinkles on top.
Easily shave off a couple of hundred calories and half the sugar by ordering the skinny version. But if you’re craving the real thing, a short version of the original blend is a little more than half of all the “bad stuff” of the grande. Watch out for blonde roasts, since the acidity level can be higher than your typical dark roasts (making them more damaging to teeth.) You can even ask them to put fewer pumps of the cinnamon dolce syrup in your drink since each one contains about 20 calories and 5 grams of sugar. Consider subbing out almond milk instead of whole, since it’s low cal and sugar-free!
Nutrition: 33 calories and 10 grams of sugar
If you’re going to indulge in homemade or Starbucks holiday drinks, do so moderately. Maybe once a week instead of once a day. Or save them for Black Friday shopping and Christmas drives with the family when you go out to look at lights. Don’t fall back into a habit of picking one up every morning on your way into the office.
Knowing how to order Starbucks drinks on the “lite” side can reduce sugar intake and acid exposure, but it won’t eliminate it altogether. There will still be a risk to your teeth. It’s the same for sweet tea, soda, and sports drinks. None of them are something you want to indulge on all day every day. They will eventually catch up with you in one way or another.
You don’t have to deprive yourself of every holiday goody this season. Just snack (and sip) smart. When you do splurge on Starbucks holiday drinks, make sure you’re not sipping on them longer than you need to. Afterward, go and rinse your mouth out really well with water. The water will minimize the acids and sugars in your mouth and help with coffee breath.
At night, make sure you’re rinsing with a fluoride mouth wash before you go to bed. After brushing and flossing of course! And if you’re able to chew some xylitol gum throughout the day, that can help too.
Make sure to keep your regular dental checkups every six months so your dentist can let you know if you have any cavity-prone areas. If you do, get them tended to before you worry about how to order your drink!
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