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The Hidden Surprise in Your Hot Cocoa

Brrr – Baby, it’s cold outside!  There was frost on the ground and fog in the air this morning.  Currently the temperature outside is a chilly 41 degrees and dropping.  A nice warm drink sounds heavenly right now.  Maybe something festive like a Peppermint Mocha Twist or an Eggnog Latte?  But wait a second – this little afternoon pick-me-up is anything but little (calorie wise).  Add a tiny treat to go along with your drink and you are now looking at waistband sabotage of the deadliest kind.

Normally if I go into a Starbucks (or other coffee establishments) I order a non-fat latte.  An 8-oz one is 100 calories; the kind I usually get – a "grande"  – is only a little more (130).  That is where you (or perhaps I should just speak for myself) need to stop.  Call it a day – go home and away from other temptations. 

PeppTwist
But last week I fell for the holiday marketing.  A Peppermint Mocha Twist sounded so fun.  Luckily I remembered to ask to have it made non-fat (don’t even ask me about the whipped cream – OF COURSE I had whipped cream!  Why bother to get a holiday drink without it?!)  Even with non-fat milk, I later found out my drink added up to 360 calories!  It would have been 430 calories if I had forgotten to change the milk.  Holy Moly – just on a drink!

My girlfriend stuck to the Signature Hot Chocolate; sadly she fared no better.  Hers was 500 calories and a whole day’s allowance of saturated fat and sugar.  So much for our quick stop for something warm to drink!  Who knew we were consuming a whole meal?!

That is the problem of course – unknowingly choosing to DRINK your calories instead of EAT them.  Researchers have shown that when you drink 100 calories (as oppose to eating 100 calories) you consume just as much at your next meal. But when you eat 100 calories of a solid food, you actually consume a little LESS at your next meal.   Makes sense – food fills you up and keeps you feeling full longer than merely drinking a beverage does.  That’s why they tell you to eat an orange instead of drinking a glass of orange juice.  Not only do you get the benefits of fiber (and less calories) you actually stay feeling full longer.

A woman I know admits her weakness is a grande frappuccino.  Based on how often I see her sipping on one as we wait to pick up our kids from school, I imagine she has one at least several times a week.  Well, a caramel frappuccino blended coffee drink (with whip) is the calorie equivalent of a Big Mac!  I doubt she’d be walking around nibbling on a Big Mac as merely an afternoon snack.  Sipping on a frappuccino seems so innocent.  But health wise, it is anything but! 

Recently I splurged and got my kids each a crispy marshmallow square from Starbucks as a special treat.  I normally wouldn’t spend the money and I certainly feel in general they are just big sugar nightmares (the last things I want my kids to have) but this particular day I was feeling generous.  The kids were thrilled and gobbled them up (the mini M&M’s on the top certainly made them that much more fun).  Should I have REALLY been that shocked to discover they were over 400 calories a piece?!  Yep – on a snack!  (Sure, not a big deal this ONE time, but generally speaking, if kids are having these types of snacks on a regular basis – and I see the massive daily flocking of high school and middle school students to our local Starbucks — do we really need to question why obesity rates across the country are rising?). 

Anyway, this Zen Mama Wannabe certainly does not mean to be a Scrooge.  Enjoy your Hot Cocoa or Mocha Lattes.  Just be aware (as I too recently learned) of all the calories lurking in that paper cup.  Trust me, you’ll be glad you did the next time you go to slip on those jeans. 

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3 Responses to “The Hidden Surprise in Your Hot Cocoa”

  1. LarkLady Says:
    December 18th, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    Good reminder, ZenMama! As a very occasional treat, that’s one thing… but on a regular basis, it really pays to think twice before having that eggnog or latte… or crispy marshmallow square!

    So enjoy the holidays judiciously, everyone! Those calories mount up fast!

  2. Zen Mama Wannabe Says:
    December 18th, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    I don’t even want to THINK about how many calories are in all the Christmas cookies we bake here at my house! I’ll gladly pass on the hot cocoa and drink hot tea (basically zero calories) in order to nibble a few (or more!) of our yummy cookies! Problem is, though, it is never JUST a few. Hmmm. 🙂

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