Five Tips to Make Healthier Choices at Starbucks

Dietitian-approved five tips to eat healthy at Starbucks

My name is Erin and I am a Starbucks addict.

I love Starbucks. I could spend all of my money on their, let's face it, overpriced and expertly marketed coffee. I love the ritual of going to Starbucks with my colleagues. I love the decor, and the comfort of it's sameness. I love sipping the bitter, warm brew at my desk. In an effort to save single-use plastics, I even spent almost $40 on a super-cute Corkcicle mug because it perfectly fits a tall Americano (worth it!).

What I don’t love is adding tons of extra sugar and salt to my diet. But since I love you, my dear Food Lifers, I’ve made a list of my five tips to make healthier choices at Starbucks. Whether it’s cutting out added sugar, or choosing a high fibre snack, I’ll help you reach your nutrition goals while still enjoying a visit to your favourite local Starbucks.

With my five tips to make healthier choices at Starbucks, I won’t be talking about the use of artificial sweeteners. This is partly because I don’t like the taste of artificial sweeteners, but also because, in my opinion, there is much more to nutrition than calories. There is nothing wrong with using artificial sweeteners if that’s your thing, or if you have diabetes and are trying to manage your blood sugar, or if that’s how you choose to reach your nutrition goals. No problem! Using the Starbucks syrups that are made with artificial sweeteners is an effective way to keep the added sugar to a minimum. It’s just not my personal preference.

Five Tips to Make Healthier Choices at Starbucks

Drinks

  1. A plain latte with soy or regular milk is a great choice. No added sugar here. Plus, calcium, and 13 g protein in a Grande with regular milk, or 10 g protein with soy. If I'm feeling tired and need a mid-morning pick-me-up, I’ll go for a plain latte as a snack with a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts.

  2. Watch your portion sizes. I love a caramel macchiato. If I have a hankering, I’ll order a Tall. This way I satisfy my yearning for that sweet caramel taste, but I’m cutting out almost 4 teaspoons (15 grams) of added sugar by getting a Tall instead of a Venti.

  3. Any of the Teavana teas are a great choice if you’re looking for less caffeine than coffee. But watch out –the Teavana lattes have added syrup, which contain sugar. The Chai tea latte has 6.5 teaspoons (26 grams) of added sugar, while the green tea latte has 3.5 teaspoons (14 grams) of added sugar. Instead, you can order a steeped tea misto without syrup, or half sweet to cut down on the added sugar and still get that latte flavour.

Food

  1. Make the high fibre choice! Fibre is great for digestion, can help prevent heart disease and cancer, and keeps us feeling full longer. Some high fibre items on the Starbucks menu are: sprouted grain vegan bagel (7 grams fibre), roasted carrot and kale side salad (7 grams), strawberry and toasted almonds overnight grains (5 grams), or either the classic or blueberry oatmeal (4 grams, or 5 grams fibre, respectively).

  2. Many of the food items at Starbucks are high in sodium, or salt. The highest sodium items are the sous vide egg bites, the chonga bagel, and the cauliflower tabbuouleh side salad. To cut down on salt, choose one of these items instead: strawberry and toasted almonds overnight grains, any of the petite scones, or either a classic or blueberry oatmeal.

The winner of the Starbucks food items is: The strawberry and toasted almonds overnight grains.

High in fibre, and low in sodium, this one wins on both sides.

I hope you enjoyed my five tips to make healthier choices at Starbucks. Making healthier food choices while eating out is a great way to meet your nutrition goals, but I always like to bring healthy eating back to enjoyment. If you really love the mocha chip frappucino with extra whip, then get one, enjoy every sip, and move on with your life. No sense wasting time feeling guilty about it. Stressing about what you ate can raise your cortisol levels and increase your stress response, which is more damaging to your health than just having that less-nutritious item in the first place.

As always, love yourself, my dear Food Lifers. You’re the only you that will ever be.