A Lesson I learned at the Coffee Shop

A Lesson I learned at the Coffee Shop

Posted on 27. Jun, 2010 by in Nutrition

I was at a coffee shop the other day while having some quality talk time with a friend. On any other day, I probably would have indulged myself with a delicious vanilla latte but this day was different. It was a fast day. So, I opted for a cup of chai tea instead. I told the barista specifically that I did not want anything added to the drink, not even milk. To my surprise, the chai tea had a sweetness to it. I’m not the type of person to complain and I didn’t want to interrupt my chat with my friend so I just proceeded to drink my tea knowing that it’s probably just a natural sweetness to the tea.


Later on, it was still bugging me that my tea was sweet so I called the coffee shop to ask if there was any added sugar to my drink. When the barista looked at the box where the chai tea came from, she said it had cane juice and honey. It had 90 calories per tea bag! I found it disappointing that when I chose not to have any calories or sweets added to my drinks, I still ended up drinking 90 calories of it. To add insult to injury, I did on a fast day!

Now, I do not want you to think that I’m this person who watches her calories strictly and have a very restricted diet. If you’ve read my other blog posts, you’ll know that I am quite a foodie and fasting has given me a great way to enjoy food while also maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle. So, I probaby would not have cared if this incident happened on any other day other than my fast day. But, it left me to think about just how many calories everyone else gets from their drinks. I usually drink water and the occasional latte. I rarely if ever drink sodas so this is not a big issue for me. But, for those people who has a habit of drinking sodas, even diet sodas, they might want to start thinking about it more often.

Hidden Calories in Drinks

Many people are awared of calories in foods. In fact, a new law from Obama’s health care plan mandates restaurants with more than one location to have nutrition facts available to their customers. But, a lot of people forget to count calories in their drinks. This may seem like a simple thing from the surface but with our waist lines expanding more than ever and our health risks increasing each year, we ought to start worrying about these hidden calories. Even companies who make diet sodas have a way of going around the law to say “zero calories” on ther labels.

Here is what I mean: If a serving of a food item contains less than 1 gram of a particular nutrient, it does not have to be counted on the label. In reality, if a serving of a drink has .9 grams of sugar, it is still considered “zero calories.” That is totally fine if you’re like me and you do not use artificial sweeteners all the time. But, if you’re a big time diet soda drinker and drinks them 10 times a day, those supposedly “zero calories” definitely add up. Additionally, most drinks have more than 1 serving. So, if you had the whole bottle, you’re definitely taking in more sugar than you think.

I’m not saying to abandon the whole idea of having zero calorie drinks at all. I like the fact that I can have my cake and eat it too, sometimes. Everything is fine in moderation right? But, drinking my calories does not give me that much pleasure so I would not do it too often. I guess this article talks more to those people who have the habit of drinking their calories or do not think about them. Just remember, everything is good in moderation with moderation being defined as maybe one sugary drink once or twice a month or a single serving of a zero calorie drink once a day. Really, your body will thank you later. We can increase the quality of our lives by simply eating less. I see that as the easiest thing we can do right now to lengthen our life spans. Why not do it now?

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  • Yes I try not to be extreme when I go out but I do look out for those hidden calories that I don't have control of.
    I use to think of diet soda was cheating calories intake but realised that the chemical “crap” was worse for me in the long run.
    Awarness in everything we do is a good thing. Nice post

  • AnnaDornier

    Raymond, that's totally true about diet sodas but it's still ok in
    moderation. We all have to find that nutritional sweet spot and not go
    obsessive complusive with this stuff but it's great to be aware!


  • Donna McCord

    Good post, Anna. It's funny how we don't think that much about how what we drink can be tipping our scales! I was shocked when I found out how many calories are in a typical Starbucks drink! Thank you for the reality check..,

  • AnnaDornier

    Donna, a lot of people tend to be surprised when they see calories in drinks
    – including me 🙂 Glad to help out!


  • I quit drinking diet soda for lent one year and lost 5lbs. I found that they are loaded with salt. So even if you find something with zero calories you may be getting something else you dont want.

    I love chai and I found some that has no sugar or sweetener. It is hard to find. (at least it is in Indiana)

  • Anna,
    Fortunately for me, I've never really liked soda or other carbonated beverages. 90% of my liquid intake is water with a little juice here and there. The other thing I think people need to stay cognizant of is alcoholic beverages…the calories in beer and even vodka really add up fast.

  • Thanks for the tips, I never knew about the .9 calories can be counted as zero! Crazy! Thanks for the heads up!

    Shawna E Anderson
    “Your Brain Search & Rescue Program”

  • LouiseEdington

    Had no idea about the .9 calorie thing! Thanks for that! What a great tip and I shall bear that in mind in future though I don't drink many 'diet' drinks luckily (or full fat as I like to call them). I try to stick to water generally thank heavens (except on wine nights – lol)

  • Anna- Nice, educational post. Now your readers will be just a bit more aware of the hidden calories!

    I've always said that there are 3 totally useless things in this world: donuts, house flies and soda! Thanks for confirming my belief in at least one of them!

  • ireneturner

    Sigh, I know about the drinking calories thing. I'm a one de-caf a day with a little 1/2 & 1/2…water…and then the killer in terms of calories and sugar…WINE. Yikes. it's a tough one to give up, but when I go through stretches with out there is a real difference.

  • chrislwagner

    Thanks for the great insight. The manufacturer of these food are always trying to pull the wool over our eyes. At least you're looking out for us.

  • AnnaDornier

    Chris, they do which is why we have to be smarter than them.

  • AnnaDornier

    Irene, I have a client who has the same dilemma as you in terms of wine. She asked us (me and other bootcampers) to be her support group in terms of helping her wean herself out of it. She ended up losing 3 lbs in one week!

  • AnnaDornier

    I totally agree with you on that, Candace! But, houseflies might serve its purpose on the food chain 🙂

  • Hi Anna,
    I had no idea about the whole .9 sugar thing! I don't know why it surprises me. Food labels can be so misleading anyway. I try to stick to tea (with stevia) and water since I prefer to “eat” my calories. 🙂 You're so right that moderation is key. Thanks for helping us improve the quality of our lives!

  • AnnaDornier

    Occasional wine nights is definitely acceptable 😀

  • AnnaDornier

    You're welcome, Shawna. By the way, it's .9 grams not calories – just to clear it up.

  • AnnaDornier

    Dave, I'm the same way with sodas – never really liked them. You're right about alcoholic beverages though but I'm the same way with them – I don't have to have alcohol.

  • AnnaDornier

    That's a good point with the salt content, Julia. I love chai tea combined with green tea. I usually get my chai tea bags from the grocery store. I've seen them online as well.

  • I'm not a soda drinker (regular or diet), but I always suspected that the “diet” versions come with their own baggage, so to speak. Besides the sodium (bloat!), there have been a number of studies warning of the long term effects of artificial sweeteners. I stick with water, green tea, and the occasional beer (no ones perfect!).
    Thanks for the good post.

  • Ooops! thanks for the clear up!

  • Hey Anna,

    Your blogs are always so educational. I had no idea about the .9 grams of sugar & I am sure there are many others who don't know this. I try to be really careful about not drinking my calories and armed with this new knowledge I going to be even more careful.

    Lisa Ann Landry – Corporate Trainer – Unleashing the Genie!

  • Very good advice Anna. As a relapsed Pepsi addict getting ready to quit again your message comes at a most opportune moment.

    Thank you,
    Follow the Quest – MyWisdomQuest.com

  • i rarely drink soda, diet or otherwise, and i'm feeling grateful for that now! you raise great points about unseen calories + nutrition facts that are managing stay hidden due to regulatory loopholes. i remember reading something similar about 'low fat' and 'fat free' foods – hopefully changes will be made to some of those rules + regulations soon, and it'll be easier for consumers to know what they're putting into their bodies.

  • AnnaDornier

    Hi Amy, you're right about that. That is, if anyone cares to check the
    nutrition facts which is usually not the case.

  • JuneSockol

    Someone pointed that out to me a few years ago. I try to be aware of the calories in my drinks but sometimes you think it's healthy when it's really not. I'm trying to work on improving my health so I make sure to look at ALL my labels, including drinks. Thanks for pointing out the teas, I wouldn't have thought about that one drink.

  • AnnaDornier

    I was totally surprised about that as well. We'll never know where they will
    get us next with sugars.:)

  • Lee Lonitz

    It's all in the marketing, and many companies count on us not counting the calories. I absolutely agree with you, Anna, that there are many hidden calories in drinks and we should step up and take control of our caloric intake with due diligence instead of letting indulgent labels or sizzling info control our perception of calories. I almost always read labels and it is amazing to discover what goes into drinks (e.g. corn syrup) if one treats it as fun reading. The real fun is then finding better alternative drinks in the name of personal health.

    To our health,

  • AnnaDornier

    Great inputs, Lee! To take your last suggestion a little further – how about
    not drinking calories? For most people, this could be what is taking them
    over their calorie intake and harming their health in the long run.


  • Excellent! Great article, I already saved it to my favourite,

  • Brian Koloskov

    Hi Anna.

    .9 grams of sugar was a new thing for me. However I am aware about the un-intentional calorie intake with cold-drinks. Being a diabetic patient I strongly avoid such things. I prefer natural sweetners like Natvia (http://natvia.com) which are made up of Stevia Leaves. The natural sweetners are easy for metabolism.