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Ho, ho, ho-ly crap are those holiday drinks at your local coffee chain bad for you. We know, we all want to indulge in a sugary-sweet holiday drink while we're out shopping for Christmas presents, and sometimes we just need an excuse to feel the holiday spirit. But with all the gingerbread cookies, peppermint bark, pies, hams, — and don’t even make us count the wine and beer — the holiday drinks we’ve come to love and expect every holiday season are just adding onto your daily limit of calories and sugar.
There's no need to fret, though (as we're sure you're already panicking about meeting the in-laws or buying the wrong gift for your little ones) — you can still indulge in your peppermint, gingerbread, and cinnamon-flavored drinks this month.
While we can't tell you that a peppermint mocha is as good for you as a carrot stick, we can tell you that at every coffee shop you visit, there is a healthier holiday option available. With fewer calories, grams of fat, and the true killer of it all, grams of sugar, these drinks can still make your holiday season sweet as can be.
Of course, there are always options to make your beloved holiday coffee drink healthier — or "skinny." Ask for no whip (save it for the pie), or low-fat or skim milk in your drink to cut back. At some shops, like The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, you can ask for no-sugar-added or sugar-free syrups to make the drink a bit healthier.
Check out the holiday drinks to avoid this season, and see which ones are healthier options. After all, this is the season of giving — and that includes giving yourself a break for a sweet drink now and then.
Worst Drink at Starbucks: Eggnog Latte
Look, we feel your pain: we know you can’t resist that eggnog-espresso combination, with the steamed milk and ground nutmeg on top. But the Grande size with whole milk has nearly as many calories as a Big Mac (at 550 calories) with 470 calories — and 22 grams of fat. Even the Tall version with nonfat milk has 350 calories and 15 grams of fat. Note to self: Eggnog is the source of trouble this holiday season.
Best Drink at Starbucks: Gingerbread Latte
Despite that gingerbread flavored syrup, even the full-fat, full-whip Grande size of the Ginger Bread Latte (pictured with the Peppermint Mocha and Caramel Brulee Latte) only calculates at 360 calories. (It’s like ordering the grilled chicken sandwich at McDonald’s instead.) Order with nonfat milk and no whip, and a Tall weighs in at only 150 calories with 0 calories from fat and 0 grams of total fat. That’s a Christmas gift to your hips.
Worst Drink at Dunkin' Donuts: Peppermint Mocha Latte
A medium-sized peppermint mocha latte weighs in at 360 calories, with 9 grams of total fat — and that’s not including the added calories of a sweetener. You can cut back, however, if you order a small peppermint mocha coffee with no cream and sugar — that’s a mere 120 calories.
Best Drink at Dunkin' Donuts: Gingerbread Latte
At 310 calories for a medium-sized drink with whole milk, you’re without the added calories of a Peppermint Mocha. But even then, it still has 9 grams of fat. It’s best to get a small Gingerbread coffee with no sugar and cream; it’s only 90 calories. Moral of the story: Stick to the coffees at Dunkin’ if you want a holiday treat, and skip the lattes. (Like those iced ones next to the Gingerbread Latte.)
Worst Drink at McDonalds: McCafé Caramel Hot Chocolate (or the McCafé Egg Nog Shake)
Yeah, did you really think there was a way to make the Egg Nog Shake healthy? We wish we had magical powers to zap the fat out of your favorite McD’s treat, but no can do: vanilla reduced-fat ice cream, egg nog syrup, whipped cream, and a maraschino cherry make that nearly impossible. A medium-sized shake is 680 calories: to put that in perspective, a Quarter Pounder with Cheese is 750 calories — so add on a Kid’s Fries to that shake and you’re about equal to that burger. A small with no whipped cream or cherry is 460 calories, so the equivalent of the Premium Grilled Club Sandwich at McD’s. Of course, a shake isn't really a holiday coffee beverage, but we looked at the holiday coffees, too. The McCafé Caramel Hot Chocolate will still do a number on your waistline: 350 calories for a medium, whole-milk beverage. It's the toppings that really do you in: whipped cream, caramel drizzle, and chocolate caramel syrup.
Best Drink at McDonald's: McCafé Peppermint Mocha
There is hope after all: the killer drinks at Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts are surprisingly better for you than its egg nog shake/ partner-in-crime. A small McCafé Peppermint Mocha is 300 calories — but you should know that includes 12 grams of fat (a cheeseburger at McD's has the same amount of fat.) If you go for a small nonfat peppermint mocha with no whipped cream and no chocolate drizzle, you’ll cut back to 160 calories and only ½ gram of fat.
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