the healthiest item to order at Starbucks

Order What You Actually Want

On a beautiful Fall afternoon, I went into my local Starbucks to order a grande chai tea latte to enjoy during my son’s baseball game. While standing in line, the college-aged girl socially distanced in front of me was up to order.

Calories over Desires

“What has less calories: a grande pumpkin spice latte or a grande [drink I couldn’t hear]?” she asked. The barista, after checking with her colleagues, answered that it was the PSL.

“Is there another alternative with less calories that still has pumpkin spice?” the girl asked. My ears were really invested in this conversation now…but probably not for the reasons you may think. The barista suggested a regular hot coffee with one pump of sugar-free pumpkin syrup. The girl agreed to that and quickly added to make it a venti instead of a grande.

The barista turned to grab a venti-sized paper cup. The girl—in a last-second hurried panic—requested to add on whipped cream too.

I wanted to tell the barista to instead fill the cup with a pumpkin spice latte. I had to restrain myself to not put my arm around this girl. And assure her that these little compromises aren’t victories towards weight loss. They accumulate over time to a less satisfied life.

The healthiest menu items at Starbucks are when you order what you actually want.

I wanted to tell her the health benefits of intuitive eating and ordering what you actually want. Because that alternative she reluctantly settled for? She already knows it’s going to be lame. She knows she compromised with herself by adding on whipped cream. It’s never going to taste or feel as good as having what she really wanted.

And it will likely end up in self-criticism later for adding on the whipped cream.

Compromises to follow your diet often lash back as rewards later. Justifications of having been “so good” at Starbucks that you “deserve a treat.”

Binges get triggered by situations like this. Overeating something with dairy and sugar later since you didn’t allow yourself to have it now.

Additionally, dieting is stressful! Stress is proven to have a greater effect on your physical health than weight gain. Which means, you’re creating a more unhealthy situation for yourself by restricting the foods you want. Versus if you had just ordered the drink or menu item that you really wanted.

Desires over calories.

I know all these scenarios are possible because I’ve been this girl too. Trying to quickly figure out how to mastermind my order so that it doesn’t ruin my diet. Juggling food types against calories or macros. Which is worse?! Panicking as I get closer to the front of the line.

So I 100% get it.

But now I know that when I order what I want the first time, things go A LOT better and healthier. I want this for you too. It is possible to heal your relationship with food and body image.

Meridith Oram
Meridith Oram is an anti-diet nutritionist at Love Yourself Towards Healthy where she helps chronic dieters heal their relationship with food, fitness and body image by ditching diet culture and finding freedom in their God-given intuition. Focusing on behavioral change and Intuitive Eating, Meridith helps her clients unlearn diet culture, stop negative self-talk and set wellness goals---not appearance goals. Follow Meridith at @loveyourself2healthy on all social channels.

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