Have your holiday mochas and drink them too, thanks to our simple swaps for a healthier caffeine fix.

Lauren Wicks
November 07, 2019

In case you missed it, Starbucks' holiday menu is back for the season, and maybe you were even lucky enough to score a free reusable holiday cup this morning (you better believe I brought mine to work today!) While these holiday beverages are delicious and only here for a limited time, you probably shouldn't be making them your go-to order until they depart in January.

Starbucks

I really hate to be Ebenezer Scrooge here, but some of Starbucks' limited-edition holiday beverages have A. TON. of sugar. Just a Grande Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha has a whopping 72 grams. And if you're wanting a Venti, that'll cost you 93 grams of the sweet stuff. Sure, there's some natural sugar from the milk in the form of lactose (18 grams), but you're still looking at 54 grams of added sugar—about 14 teaspoons—in your grande drink. It's recommended that women get no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day, and men should aim for under 9.

Luckily, you can still have a very merry coffee order at Starbucks without consuming a nearly 450-calorie beverage loaded with sugar. After checking out some tips from Starbucks baristas and trying a lightened-up version of a few of these beverages ourselves, we've found you really can have your Chestnut Praline or Peppermint Mocha Latte and drink it, too.

Related: Starbucks Unveils Holiday Cup Designs for 2019

Opt for a Smaller Size

We're all about enjoying these sugary beverages as an occasional treat, but a simple way to make them a little healthier is to order a Tall over your usual Grande or Venti. These drinks already come with a shot of espresso in a tall size, and you can always add an extra espresso shot if you feel like you *really* need it.

There's also a lesser-known (and likely lesser-ordered) Short cup size at Starbucks, which holds 8-ounce beverages. You can cut the calories, sugar and fat in half without even changing your order simply by choosing the Short over a Grande. It still comes with a shot of espresso, too.

Related: The Healthiest Orders at Starbucks

Ditch the Whipped Cream

Whipped cream is likely not a part of your daily life, and your coffee order will be just fine without it this season. According to Starbucks baristas, this move can shave up to 110 calories from your order. If you really want a little dollop, you can ask for "light whip" to give you some creaminess without going overboard.

Related: Coffee Actually Has Some Serious Health Benefits—and We'll Drink to That

Ask for Less Syrup

Flavored sugary syrups are what give these delicious holiday beverages their signature flavors. But, they also deliver a lot of added sugar.

This morning, I went to order a Peppermint Mocha and asked how many pumps of syrup typically come in a Grande. The barista said each Grande Peppermint Mocha has four pumps of peppermint syrup and four pumps of mocha syrup. Yes, eight pumps of liquified sugar! I just asked for half the amount—honestly, I could have gone for just one of each—and I got all the minty, mocha sweetness of the drink without it being a total sugar bomb.

Share Your Favorite Drink

Sharing one of these holiday beverages with a friend or family member is a great way to enjoy all its goodness without guzzling nearly 500 calories and more sugar than a soda. It's also very cost-effective. I still enjoyed my Peppermint Mocha split in half with medium-roast coffee filling the rest of my cup—it gave me the festive flavor without making me crash at my computer by 11 a.m.

Related: Healthy Coffee Drink Recipes

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