Edit Content
Food and Nutrition

Food for Thought: How to Order a Healthier Holiday Coffee at Starbucks (Stepwise and Maintenance)

Vanessa Martin, RD | Nutrition Specialist
/ December 9, 2022
starbucks drink on snow

If you’re anything like me, your holiday season officially started on September 1st when the pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks came back! But in case you missed it, all the other holiday menu favorites are back as well making a trip to Starbucks incredibly tempting and too easy to fall off track with your health goals. The average tall Starbucks holiday coffee drink can have anywhere from 300-400 calories and 35 grams of sugar! Those calories can add up quickly, especially if you’re drinking these daily.

The good news is that you don’t always have to sacrifice your favorite holiday coffee treat if you are on Stepwise or Maintenance. There are ways that you can modify the original recipe to make it healthier, lighter, lower in sugar and calories but still give you that comfort and taste that you enjoy! Here is how you can do that:

  1. Start by asking for a different milk base. Most drinks and latte standard recipes at Starbucks call for 2% or whole milk which can be anywhere from 150-180 calories alone in a tall cup. Ask for your milk to be almond milk (80 calories) or nonfat milk (90 calories) for a healthier swap. You can use other plant milks like coconut, oat or soy milk if you prefer but these will all be over 100 calories per tall serving. 
  2. Ask for less syrup and sauces. Many holiday coffee drinks will have at least 3 pumps of sugary flavored syrups and other sauces (which will contain more sugar). For example, a tall Peppermint Mocha has mocha sauce and both peppermint and vanilla syrups added. Most have 3 pumps of each sauce and syrup. Ask for one pump of each flavor to decrease the sugar intake.
  3. Skip any toppings and whipped cream. Trust me, it will be sweet enough! You can ask for unsweetened spices to be added instead. Spices like cinnamon or nutmeg provide  calorie-free flavor.
  4. Order the tall-sized beverage. The larger the portion size, the more calories and sugar you will consume. 

As you can see, it is totally possible to enjoy your favorite flavors of the holiday season while still being mindful about what’s in your cup!

Skip to content