Starbucks always lets us know that the holidays have officially arrived with their holiday cups and FaLa Lattes. But in addition to Christmas spirit and holiday cheer, these delicious drinks bring extra sugar, whipped cream and far more calories than your morning coffee should have. But instead of being the Nutrition Grinch and telling you to skip them all together, I’ve got some suggestions to lighten them up.

  • Save them for special occasions – they should definitely not be a weekly drink
  • Order with skim milk instead of 2% or whole – this can save 50-80 calories
  • Skip the whipped cream – this can save 70 calories, and isn’t it already sweet enough?
  • Request “less pumps” – for example, if a grande pumpkin spice latte has 3 pumps, I’ll get 1 1/2
  • Request sugar-free syrups
  • Order a small!

Pumpkin Spice Latte Venti (20 oz):

510 calories, 20 grams fat, 61 grams sugar

Skim Pumpkin Spice Latte Tall -No Whip (12 oz):

200 calories, 0 grams fat, 37 grams sugar


What are your holiday drinks tips?

26 Comments (Reply )

  1. Estela @ Weekly Bite
    Nov 09, 2010 @ 8:07 am

    I love the holiday coffee drinks! I always make sure to order it with skim milk.


  2. Paige
    Nov 09, 2010 @ 9:01 am

    I’m definitely tempted by the seasonal drinks (mmm, peppermint mocha!), so remembering that it should be just a treat is big for me.

    Also, I have a friend who makes an amazinggg peppermint mocha smoothie ( that is a much healthier alternative. I have to remind myself that healthy, delicious options exist too! Now if only I could get it at a drive-thru…


    • Emily
      Nov 09, 2010 @ 9:15 am

      The peppermint mochas are my favorite too!
      Thanks for sharing this recipe! :)


  3. Megan (Braise The Roof)
    Nov 09, 2010 @ 9:54 am

    I don’t order them all too often, mostly because I try to make coffee at home or at the office since Starbucks gets pretty pricey after a while! Although, when I do go out for coffee I try to order just a flavored brew- unless it’s dessert you really don’t need all the crazy sugar!


  4. Angharad
    Nov 09, 2010 @ 10:22 am

    Love this! I caved this year and tried a pumpkin spice latter and now I’m obsessed….I am also about to make and blog about a homemade version though so I’ll let you know how that goes!!


  5. kate
    Nov 09, 2010 @ 11:24 am

    sometimes i think the coffee shop specialty drinks signal the seasonal change for me more than the weather does!

    after working at a coffee shop, i discovered that half shots of syrup are the way to go. i want my coffee to taste like coffee not sugary water! at caribou the small and medium drinks have the same amount of espresso shots. so the smalls have the same amount of caffination with less calories from milk.


    • Emily
      Nov 09, 2010 @ 11:28 am

      Oooh, I love this insider tip!! Thanks Kate!


  6. kristin @ delishliving
    Nov 09, 2010 @ 11:50 am

    i am thankful that i am not a sugar loving coffee fiend. i’m just a coffee fiend, therefore i prefer a regular pike with a bit of lite cream. i do admit to indulging in these little treats now and then and your tips are just perfect!


  7. catherine (FOOD SNOB)
    Nov 09, 2010 @ 12:50 pm

    I don’t order coffee out much, but I do like a treat every now and then. A splash of pumpkin spice Silk Nog is a great treat in my AM coffee!


    • Emily
      Nov 09, 2010 @ 2:32 pm

      Love that idea too!!


  8. Mo@MommyRD
    Nov 09, 2010 @ 1:18 pm

    Am I the only one that does not care for the holiday coffee drinks? Where I get into trouble is the holiday sweet desserts/breads. :-)


  9. erica
    Nov 09, 2010 @ 2:40 pm

    Great post Emily. I actually ordered the pumpkin spiced latte this past Sunday with skim milk no whipped cream and was kinda disappointed. I guess that is what I get for not being a coffee drinker!


  10. Tracey
    Nov 09, 2010 @ 2:53 pm

    Great tips! I follow all of them when it comes to the special holiday drinks. However, I have been ordering my skinny vanilla grande latte more than once a week. Not only do I need to cut down on this for the calories but the cost is pretty high too!


  11. Melomeals: Vegan for $3.33 a Day
    Nov 09, 2010 @ 5:35 pm

    Wow.. I am shocked at the calories in those types of drinks.. unreal.. great tips!


  12. Faith @ lovelyascharged
    Nov 09, 2010 @ 5:48 pm

    My tip? Dissolve a peppermint stick in a cup of regular black coffee. Boom, unique flavor with less calories!


    • Emily
      Nov 09, 2010 @ 5:53 pm

      I’ve never thought of that one! As soon as candy canes are on the shelves, I’m trying it! (I guess they probably are already in stores!)


      • Nicole
        Dec 31, 2010 @ 3:25 pm

        What about all the sugars in the candy cane that you are now putting into your coffee? Corn Syrup, Glucose, Fructose……that can’t be good. I guess I am turning into the Nutritional Grinch!


        • Emily
          Dec 31, 2010 @ 3:40 pm

          Haha, I wouldn’t make it an every day habit, but a few times throughout the season wouldn’t be too bad! :)


  13. Tiffany @ Simply Shaka
    Nov 09, 2010 @ 8:38 pm

    I definitely second the no whip and skim milk rule of thumb. I save those drinks for a weekend treat or when I have a free coupon from Starbucks. I seriously don’t know how people order those EVERY day, that would kill me!!


  14. Amanda
    Nov 14, 2010 @ 10:08 am

    I’m not a huge fan of overly sweet drinks so I always request no whipped cream, skim milk and only 1 pump of syrup. Otherwise I get a “too much sugar” headache!

    I always get holiday-flavored drip coffee. It’s not sweet but the aroma is there.


  15. Lauren @ Fun, Fit and Fabulous!
    Dec 12, 2010 @ 11:19 pm

    MMMM I’m a sucker for coffee. I try and make my own holiday drinks by adding a little cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract, or peppermint extract (just a teeny tiny bit) to my coffee at home. This way I can still taste the holidays, but they won’t make me not fit into my jeans come January!


  16. Marianne @ Meal Mixer
    Dec 30, 2010 @ 11:45 am

    I’m a sucker for the coffee mate holiday flavors. I know they aren’t that healthy, but I’m lactose intolerant so it’s my splurge! Definitely want to try the candy cane tip!


  17. Nicole
    Dec 31, 2010 @ 3:23 pm

    Drink more water, find a delicious non caffeinated herbal tea. Stop going to Starbucks and support a local coffee shop!


  18. Nicole
    Dec 31, 2010 @ 3:28 pm

    Emily, I love your site and really appreciate the information you provide. I also like reading the comments.
    Thanks for this venue to discuss nutrition!


    • Emily
      Dec 31, 2010 @ 3:40 pm

      Thanks Nicole!


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