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The “Healthy” Mistake You’re Probably Making at Starbucks

January 21, 2021
Photo Credit: Jess Lewis

Maybe you pop in all the time, maybe you only go there in a pinch — either way, chances are grabbing coffee from Starbucks is a part of your life. And though you’re probably already avoiding those venti super-sugary specialty drinks (right?!), your go-to Starbucks order might not be as healthy as you think. Read on to find out the “healthy” mistake you might be making.

You’re falling for skinny marketing.

A “skinny” drink sounds like a good choice, but generally isn’t, warns Bethesda, Maryland-based internist Dr. Sonya Chawla. “‘Skinny’ options use sugar-free syrups. Though they’re lower in calories, they have artificial sweeteners, which have been linked to obesity, insulin resistance, and diabetes,” she explains. She adds that sucralose, which is often present in those sugar-free syrups, has been shown to alter the microbiome of the gut, decreasing the beneficial gut microbes that keep us healthy.

It’s not just the faux sweeteners that you should watch out for, according to Dr. Chawla. “Skinny” drinks also have low-fat or skim milk, which she doesn’t recommend. “The fat in whole milk will keep you feeling fuller longer,” she says. And, while skim milk has less fat than whole milk, it actually has more carbohydrates and more sugars than the full-fat option. Need more convincing? “Whole milk also contains more fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamins D, A and E,” she says.

Follow these tips for ordering at Starbucks instead.

So, what should you order instead of that skinny latte? Dr. Chawla has a few tips.

  1. Consider almond milk. If you don’t like the idea of full-fat milk, almond milk is your best choice. It has “less sugar, fewer calories, more protein and more fiber than coconut, soy, or regular milk,” she notes.
  2. Add a pinch of cinnamon. Instead of sugar or an alternative sweetener, try adding a dash of cinnamon, which is naturally sweet and naturally high in antioxidants.
  3. Order the ‘short’ size. Here’s something you may not know: There’s a short size (that’s even smaller than tall) that’s often not on the menu.

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