4 Ways to Go Healthy at the Coffee Shop

You walk into your favorite café with the full intent of sticking to a cup of black coffee. But then you're met with an abundant display of syrupy, creamy drinks whipped to perfection as well as sweet and savory baked goods so fresh they appear to be calling your name-and all your willpower goes out the window. Do you have to give up your favorite coffee shop when you're trying to watch what you eat?  Not at all. Follow these tips on how to enjoy your coffee shop stop without blowing your diet.

Think small. If you simply must have a latte, frappe, or double-hazelnut-vanilla-chocolate macchiato to get your day started, go for it, but ask for the smallest size. Many coffee shops advertise their small size as a "tall" (that's code-speak for medium), but behind the counter, they also offer a "short" or smaller sized cup.  Ask for nonfat milk instead of whole milk and sugar-free syrups. A 16oz. latte made with whole milk is 265 calories.  A 12oz. latte made with nonfat milk is only 125. Better yet, go for a nonfat cappuccino with only 75 calories. 

Think clear
. To really save on coffee shop calories, there's nothing better than black coffee (zero calories). If you need some sweetener or flavoring, add a little sugar, which has only 15 calories per teaspoon and some cinnamon (zero calories). Artificial sweeteners are calorie-free, but they may not be your healthiest choice. If black coffee is too strong for you, add a splash (not a puddle) of low-fat milk.

Make a choice. If you choose a no- (or very low-) calorie beverage, you might be able to afford the calories in a small bakery item. But if you opt for a higher calorie beverage, skip the doughnut or muffin. Think about portion size. Most muffins constitute two or three portion sizes (according to guidelines provided by the USDA). Cut your baked item in quarters, ask for a to-go bag, and share the rest with your coworkers.

Get the facts. That banana nut loaf may look like health food (fruit and nuts are great, right?), but on closer inspection, you'll discover that one slice could contain as much as 480 calories. Don't be afraid to ask for calorie and fat information. Better yet, ask your server to recommend lower calorie options. Some coffee shops offer wraps, cereals, fruit and yogurt cups, and other healthy options that offer more nutrition and fewer empty calories than most baked goods provide.