How to Enjoy Starbucks Christmas Drinks on a Healthy Diet

·5-min read
Photo credit: Panuwat Dangsungnoen - Getty Images
Photo credit: Panuwat Dangsungnoen - Getty Images

Well, dig out your sequins, light your spiced berry candles and cue Mariah on Spotify: in a sure sign that the festive season soon cometh, the Starbucks Christmas drinks menu is out.

Fans of Starbucks Christmas drinks will be pleased to learn that the real classics of the genre - your Eggnog, Gingerbread and Toffee Nut lattes - make a return.

These red cup-cloaked, seasonal coffee options come propped up by newbies including the Caramel Waffle Latte and the Fudge Brownie Hot Chocolate.

As for what they taste like? The Caramel Waffle Latte - according to a press release sent to WH - 'champions the unique flavour of stroopwafel for the ultimate Holiday treat' (see below).

Practically, this means that your usual espresso and milk is blended with 'delicately spiced winter waffle sauce' (interested), topped with caramel whipped cream (tasty) and a special caramel-y crunch topic (talk to me).

While 2021's levelled-up, Christmas ready hot choc is a turbo-indulgent mocha and warming milk combined with biscuit sauce (a thing, apparently), topped with mocha whipped cream, mocha drizzle and a chunky fudge sprinkle topping. Below for your viewing pleasure.

Are Starbucks Christmas Drinks Healthy?

Erm...Are they Tasty? Sure. Nostalgic? Most definitely. Packed to the rafters with sugar and calories? Undeniably.

If you're ordering the Starbucks Christmas drinks minus the all the fancy (sleigh) bells and whistles - cream, drizzle, crunchy fudge topping etc - and with semi skimmed milk you'll still be notching up the lion’s share of 300 kcals and 30g+ of sugar each time you order.

Let's talk specifics.

(Note: all of the nutrition info applies when the Starbucks Christmas drinks are ordered tall - read: small - size, with semi-skimmed milk.)

How much sugar are in Starbucks Christmas drinks?

Starting with the new guys: the Caramel Waffle Latte comes in at 271 kcals and 28.7g grams of sugar.

While the Fudge Brownie Hot Chocolate (above) clocks up 297 kcals and 40.7g of the white stuff.

As for the returning Starbucks Christmas drinks classics? The Toffee Nut Latte (coffee x rich toffee x roasted nuts if you're not yet acquainted) is the option lowest in both sugar (14.6g) and calories (201). The Gingerbread Latte contains 236 kcals and 25g of sugar and the creamy Eggnog Latte contains 287 calories, with 32.4g of sugar.

For reference, the NHS states that adults should have no more than 30g of free sugars per day. So it's clear that ordering most of these babies from the Starbucks Christmas menu will blast through your daily quota.

So does that mean you shouldn't enjoy one of the Starbucks Christmas drinks from time to time? Well, no.

Starbucks Christmas Drinks: The Expert’s Verdict

Look, no one is saying that swapping out your milky Americano for a Gingerbread Latte every morning between now and Christmas Eve will help you feel 10/10.

But if you want to order one? Go for it. As registered dietician Tai Ibitoye reminds us, there is more to health than calories and other nutritional metrics.

Especially when you consider that eating in a way that’s supportive of all aspects of health – including reaching and maintaining a healthy weight – is a long-game.

‘A one-off from the Starbucks Christmas drinks menu probably won’t make a huge difference to your health in the grand scheme of things, so totally enjoy it,’ says Ibitoye.

‘Even though, there’s a lot of focus on calories and the sugar or fat content in beverages and food - it’s important to know that beverages as well as food are more than the calories, sugar and fat they contain.

'Food can provide a sense of enjoyment, satisfaction and sets the mood for celebrations ahead – in this case, Christmas!’

How Do I Fit Starbucks Christmas Drinks into a Healthy Diet?

According to our expert, the key thing is to work out your priorities when it comes to food and health, right now. Yes, too much sugar is unhealthy for a litany of reasons. But if you simply must sample the eggnog latte (feast your eyes, below), or anything else from the Starbucks Christmas Drinks menu, do crack on.

‘Have it as an occasional treat, perhaps on a nice and cosy Sunday afternoon or on your Friday coffee break,’ she suggests.

Size matters, too: ‘Consider ordering the drink you fancy in small size. That way you can still enjoy the taste, comfort and full experience, while saving on the sugar and calorie content.’

Oh, and here’s a tip for anyone who doesn’t mind being that person in the coffee queue who is unashamedly prescriptive with their order. ‘If you still want the whipped cream and / or syrup and ask the barista for just a little cream,’ Ibitoye suggests – ‘or just one pump of syrup.’

Starbucks Christmas Drinks: The Healthiest Way To Enjoy

Ultimately, while no one is going to argue that Starbucks Christmas drinks – or any similar super-sweetened beverages – are actively healthy, enjoying them isn’t necessarily bad for your health.

A healthy diet is one that’s varied. You want an abundant range of vegetables, fruits, legumes, proteins and healthy fats – but stuff that would win no nutritional prizes totally has its (albeit small) place.

‘A good diet is a balanced one. And I’d encourage anyone away from focusing on whether something is “bad or good” or “naughty or nice” to zoom out a little on focus on their overall diet,’ recommends Ibitoye.

‘Your diet should nourish your body, support your health and provide you with satisfaction and enjoyment.’

Words to savour, whether you’re someone who is buzzing to order the Caramel Waffle Latte off the Starbucks Christmas Drinks menu or someone who will be sticking with your standard Americano.

Or, you know, someone whose refined coffee tastes means you rule out chain coffee joints like Starbucks, altogether. (If that's you, why not check out our favourite coffee subscriptions.) You - and we cannot stress this enough - do you.

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