Whatever your stance with coffee, Starbucks is a place for almost everyone to find something to eat or drink. That doesn’t mean everything is diet-friendly, though, as there can be a lot of unhealthy ingredients hidden in coffeehouse favorites. If you love Starbucks but are working to make healthier choices, don’t worry – there are still some ways you can enjoy this convenient spot.
One of the nice things about Starbucks is that they come across as wanting to be as transparent as possible when it comes to the nutritional value of their menu items. Their website states that they understand that “small changes add up to a big impact” and they support their customers’ health goals. Starbucks also allows you to find nutritional information by using the menu calculators on their site.
Let’s look at how to best approach Starbucks from a healthier standpoint.
Tips for Making Healthier Choices at Starbucks
The Starbucks menu can be overwhelming to navigate when on a diet. Here are some things to consider when making food and beverage choices.
Choosing Healthier Drinks at Starbucks
Drip coffee is far from the only thing at Starbucks. Over the years, their menu has expanded to include some of the most colorful, flavorful, and well-known seasonal beverages out there. With the complexity of some of their drinks comes a highly variable nutritional composition.
Here are some of the healthier drink selections at Starbucks.
Brewed or iced plain coffee
You can of course either enjoy this black (without cream, sugar, or other additives) or with a bit of low-fat or non-dairy milk.
Low-fat or non-dairy latte or cappuccino
Lattes are mostly milk, and cappuccinos are mostly foam, so this is where the majority of fat, calories, and sugar will come from. Alternatively, you can order drip coffee mixed with a little milk for somewhat of a fake-me-out, healthier version of a latte. Note that if you add a flavored syrup, this will add calories and sugar (unless you choose a sugar-free version).
This is a basic drink made of espresso and hot water, with very few calories and no fat or sugar.
Teavana® Shaken Iced Passion Tango™ Tea
This is tea, ice, and sweetener. Although this option does contain 11 grams of sugar, this is less than half of what you’ll find in other iced teas or iced tea lemonade drinks on the menu, which contain well over 25 grams in just 16 ounces.
Evolution Fresh® Organic Green Devotion
This drink contains 100% juice with no additives or artificial sweeteners. The 5 grams of sugar come naturally from the greens and other veggies used.
Choosing Healthier Foods at Starbucks
Coffee isn’t the only decision to make, and you may be upsold at the drive-thru or tempted by the food display case in the store. It’s a little more difficult to ask for substitutions in Starbucks food options as most are premade (and contain added salt and sugar).
Here are some healthier food selections at Starbucks, though many still contain a lot of salt.
Hearty Blueberry Oatmeal
This is a small but satisfying breakfast option, made up steel cut oats and topped with fresh blueberries. You could pair this with a favorite coffee drink without totally going over your health goals for the morning. The sugar comes from both natural sugar in the blueberries and added sugar from the dried cranberries (which you could remove) and agave nectar used to sweeten it.
2.5 grams total fat
125 mg sodium
5 grams fiber
5 grams protein
13 grams sugar
Chicken & Quinoa Protein Bowl with Black Beans and Greens
This dish offers a nice variety of whole food ingredients, with both chicken and plant-based proteins tossed in a vinaigrette. Note that it does contain around half of your day’s sodium limit, something to keep in mind when planning the rest of your day.
17 grams total fat
1030 mg sodium
9 grams fiber
27 grams protein
11 grams sugar
Grilled Chicken & Cauliflower Tabbouleh
This is another nice combination of leafy greens, chicken and plant-based protein. Although it contains a substantial amount of fat, the majority of it is unsaturated. This dish is high in sodium, which comes from the feta cheese (that you could remove) and the added salt listed several times in the ingredients.
27 grams total fat
1140 mg sodium
4 grams fiber
21 grams protein
7 grams sugar
Baja Black Bean Veggie Wrap
Despite the high sodium content (which comes from the added salt and rice vinegar in the ingredients), this is a decent option that does incorporate some healthy ingredients. It’s full of plant-based protein from the black beans, and includes fresh veggies like cabbage, spinach, carrots, and tomatoes. The majority of the fat and calories here come from the jalapeno cream cheese spread, which you could probably scrape off if you wanted.
22 grams total fat
1300 mg sodium
7 grams fiber
21 grams protein
5 grams sugar
Sprouted Grain Vegan Bagel with Avocado Spread
Starbucks sells these two items separately, so this is something you’ll have to ask for together, but it makes a great pairing that leaves room for a small drink alongside it.
14 grams total fat
600 mg sodium
11 grams fiber
13 grams protein
4 grams sugar
Whatever role Starbucks plays in your life, you don’t completely have to abandon it in your quest for health. You just need to be aware of what may be lurking in your old favorites and be willing to make some substitutes or try something new. Or, take on the challenge of recreating some of your Starbucks favorites at home, using healthier ingredients.
For help in meal planning or developing your personalized goals, call Elite Body Data today.