I don’t drink coffee. There, I said it. I know I am in the minority here, but I drink hot green tea in the mornings. But I know that most of you out there not only drink coffee, but love your morning cup of joe. In fact, many people tell me that they are addicted to coffee, and indeed it is a drug. But is your coffee habit getting in the way of your weight loss or healthy lifestyle goals?
I drank coffee in college…black coffee, mostly because that’s what my mother drank. So I never got into the cream and sugar filled coffee. I gave coffee up because it made me too jittery. Tea seems to be just the right amount of caffeine for me. But I understand that many people are addicted to their coffee, and black coffee is not the norm. So extra calories, fat, and sugar are showing up in your cup on a regular basis.
I am not going to tell you to give up coffee. In fact, coffee has many health benefits when enjoyed in the right amounts. It contains powerful antioxidants that can help fight diseases like diabetes, cancer, heart problems, and dementia. Coffee can also help you focus mentally and feel more energized. Drinking two cups of coffee in the morning can actually be a good thing.
However, as soon as you add other things to coffee, the nutritional value starts to plummet. Adding sugar is obviously going to increase your sugar intake. If you are still using sugar in your coffee, you really want to try to wean yourself off of that habit. You can get some ideas from my other posts about quitting sugar. And please don’t switch to artificial sweeteners, which only means you are adding foreign chemicals to your body. Learn to drink your coffee without any added sweetener.
In my discussions with clients and friends, it seems the bigger addiction is with coffee creamer. Let’s start with the stats. For 2 teaspoons of French vanilla coffee creamer, you are taking in 50 calories, 3 grams of fat, and 6 grams of sugar. That’s a lot of unwanted stuff for a liquid you are pouring in your coffee! I was also surprised (and grossed out) to see that most creamers have vegetable oil in them. Yuck! Finally, carrageenan will most likely show up on the ingredients list. This is a natural additive to thicken the product, but has been directly linked to cancer, so you want to avoid it.
Now it’s just a guess that many people use more than 2 teaspoons of creamer, mostly because they just pour it in the cup without measuring. Plus you have to add on the second (or third, or fourth) cup of coffee too. So you could be taking in well over 100 calories and over 10 grams of sugar if you are heavy-handed with the creamer. Considering that you shouldn’t be going over 20 grams of sugar in a day, it’s not a good sign when you are half-way there before your day even starts.
I asked the members of my Facebook group about their coffee habits, and got some interesting answers and feedback. I want to share some of their suggestions with you so you can see what might work for you. Replacing or eliminating your beloved coffee creamer is not something you have to do overnight, so these suggestions go hand-in-hand with the next section where I talk about how to go about making a change.
Instead of coffee creamer, you could opt for different varieties of milk. Some people use whole milk, 2%, 1%, or skim. Many of the responders said they hated skim milk in coffee, but others didn’t mind it. There are also non-dairy milks, like soy, almond, and coconut that will provide a creamier texture similar to coffee creamer. Just make sure you go with unsweetened milks. You could also try adding some simple flavoring to your coffee, like real vanilla extract and cinnamon. Other people suggested half and half, which has no added sugar in it.
A word about sugar-free creamer. No. That’s my word, just no. In many types you will find trans fats in there. Just look on the ingredients label for anything “partially hydrogenated.” If you see that, there are trans fats in there. You are also looking at artificial sweeteners (many use sucralose), which you want to stay away from as much as possible. Fat free half and half isn’t much better. In this case, the removed fat is just replaced with sugar, usually in the form of corn syrup.
Your best bet is to eventually get to where you can drink your coffee black. If the bitter taste of black coffee turns you off, there are some things to consider. First, you can try out different roasts. You might like a lighter roast with nothing added to it just fine. Also, invest in good quality coffee. Yes, it will be more expensive, but it will taste better and you will save money by not buying creamer.
Some of you may be shaking your head right now and saying, “No way, I am not giving up coffee creamer.” Well, would you at least be willing to try? Remember that it takes at least 3 weeks for something to become a habit, and even longer to break an old habit. So it will take time, and probably will require a slow transition process. One responder said that it took her husband a year to do this. If after all of that, you still want to go back to creamer, then I guess you can say at least you tried. You just have to be careful to budget in your diet for it.
Because coffee is such an addicting habit, the best way to change the way you drink it is slowly over time. Follow these steps.
Step 1 – Mix half creamer and half half-and-half in your coffee cup. Do this for 3 weeks, or longer if needed.
Step 2 – Drink your coffee with just half and half, no creamer. Do this for 2 weeks, or longer if needed.
Step 3 – Mix half half-and-half and half milk in your coffee cup (I recommend an unsweetened almond milk for the creamy texture). Do this for 2 weeks, or longer if needed.
Step 4 – Drink your coffee with just almond milk. You can stay happily here or move on to step 5 after 2 weeks.
Step 5 – Drink your coffee black.
A note from Tammy..
Another suggestion when trying to wean off coffee is to remove 1 daily cup. So if you drink coffee all day long try removing your afternoon coffee. Replace it with tea or water.
Also, don’t forget to measure. If you decide to continue with creamer it might do wonders to just measure the creamer used instead of “eye-balling” it. This could save many calories in the long run.
What are you tips to break or reduce the coffee creamer habit?