Coffee culture?  Or coffee cult?

 

It’s a little like climate change. We know we should act. We want to believe the press have blown it out of proportion. We genuinely do want it to go away, and its completely politically incorrect to act like we don’t care but are we really prepared to give up our lavish modern lifestyle just to protect the future of humanity? 

 

So what really is causing our obesity pandemic?  First it was too much fat, so we cut it out and dare I say with it went most people’s sense of humour (fat is essential for good mood).  Then we eliminated calories (in other words, food, essential food).  In came weight watchers and Jane Fonda and out went the beautiful shape of the 50’s.  We somehow morphed from hourglass to barrel.

 

As a child, I grew up on tea, brown bread and mass on Sunday (yes, I’m Irish).  I had cereal & toast for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, and ate potatoes with my evening meal. Basically, we ate carbs, fat, meat and sugar.  Drinking gallons of pure (from concentrate) orange juice was considered healthy.  We ate junk food - sweets, chocolate & ice cream as often as our parents would allow and as far as pocket money would stretch. We weren’t overweight. None of us were. It’s true that the now old-fashioned weekly shop certainly curbed this 24-hour access to all things nice but what else has fundamentally changed?

 

Like most issues, there is usually more than one offender.  Access to too much food, much of it full of empty calories, means we are consuming more in order to access the smallest amount of real nutrition.  We are blending cultures.  Indian & Chinese sit beside Mexican and good old fashioned Steak & Kidney pie.  We know to cut carbs, to moderate fruit intake, avoid excess cans of diet sodas and of course alcohol.  We try and eat only when hungry but have we completely missed one of the most obvious, yet unnoticed offenders?

 

 

Coffee. Not for us the quick trip to ‘il bar’ in Italy, where a swift espresso is seen off while standing at the counter, oh no, we need a pint of milk, frequently sweetened as if by a child on a sugar-high and sipped steadily on the way to work.

 

Within that beverage calamity can lurk as much sugar as 3 classic Magnum ice cream bars.  Can you imagine the looks if you put those on your desk for breakfast?  It’s all in the perspective.  Even a Starbucks Grande (that’s the medium one for the few of you that didn’t know) semi-skimmed latte has 16.5 grams (3 spoons) of sugar and that’s before any additions.   If of course, you add a skinny blueberry muffin, which misleadingly has over 6 grams more sugar than the classic muffin, you’ve just exceeded the 50 gram daily limit advised by the WHO.  (The World Health Organisation.  Not the band.)

 

After we’ve polished off our treat of about 500 calories, proud that we didn’t actually have any breakfast, and possibly already growing wistful about lunch, we’ve consumed fully ¼ our daily calories but had nothing that our body can use.  We’ve had a big cup of sugar that will give us little more than a muffin top. 

 

Even during the recession, these visits have increased; another of the “lipstick effect” trends, as modest expenses become treats we are entitled to, even when we cut back drastically in our budgets. 

 

 

Coffee is the innocent victim in all of this

 

The innocent victim in all of this is the actual coffee itself.  Coffee in moderation has been linked positively to better brain function, memory and potentially a diminished risk of Alzheimers.  Athletes and the labour force alike know they will get a performance boost from this injection of caffeine.  But coffee in its strong, unadulterated form is not what we are all ordering when we walk into Starbucks or Costa.  (We considered calling this article ‘Starbesity.’)  Even after factoring in a splash of cream and sugar to a regular coffee or tea, we still hold in our hands a mere 60-100 calories.  However, should we happen to order some form of venti mocha chocolate mystery syrup over a whipped cream creation, we have upwards of 500-600 calories in our grasp. 

 

The sugar and calories aren’t as obvious as you think

 

So the next time you are pondering your coffee order, try weaning yourself off the ½ pint of milk that could be in your latte and go for a cappuccino as well as dropping to a smaller size to cut in half the calories and sugar.  Or for the maximum effect on your waistline, order an espresso or an Americano – it is vitally important you don’t unknowingly drink the calorie equivalent of your lunch before you’ve even had breakfast!

 

And, as you shave off those unnecessary calories from your habitual order, remember those shops did not accidentally design their floor layout so that you shuffle slowly past a glass case full of cakes and muffins, mesmerised into spending more money while you wait in line.  They do it because at the end of the day it is good for their profit margins and they are looking out for their bottom line, as opposed to looking out for your bottom. 

 

As a child, I grew up on tea, brown bread and mass on Sunday (yes, I’m Irish).  I had cereal & toast for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, and ate potatoes with my evening meal. Basically, we ate carbs, fat, meat and sugar.  Drinking gallons of pure (from concentrate) orange juice was considered healthy.  We ate junk food - sweets, chocolate & ice cream as often as our parents would allow and as far as pocket money would stretch. We weren’t overweight. None of us were. It’s true that the now old-fashioned weekly shop certainly curbed this 24-hour access to all things nice but what else has fundamentally changed?

 

Like most issues, there is usually more than one offender.  Access to too much food, much of it full of empty calories, means we are consuming more in order to access the smallest amount of real nutrition.  We are blending cultures.  Indian & Chinese sit beside Mexican and good old fashioned Steak & Kidney pie.  We know to cut carbs, to moderate fruit intake, avoid excess cans of diet sodas and of course alcohol.  We try and eat only when hungry but have we completely missed one of the most obvious, yet unnoticed offenders?

 

 

Coffee. Not for us the quick trip to ‘il bar’ in Italy, where a swift espresso is seen off while standing at the counter, oh no, we need a pint of milk, frequently sweetened as if by a child on a sugar-high and sipped steadily on the way to work.

 

Within that beverage calamity can lurk as much sugar as 3 classic Magnum ice cream bars.  Can you imagine the looks if you put those on your desk for breakfast?  It’s all in the perspective.  Even a Starbucks Grande (that’s the medium one for the few of you that didn’t know) semi-skimmed latte has 16.5 grams (3 spoons) of sugar and that’s before any additions.   If of course, you add a skinny blueberry muffin, which misleadingly has over 6 grams more sugar than the classic muffin, you’ve just exceeded the 50 gram daily limit advised by the WHO.  (The World Health Organisation.  Not the band.)

 

After we’ve polished off our treat of about 500 calories, proud that we didn’t actually have any breakfast, and possibly already growing wistful about lunch, we’ve consumed fully ¼ our daily calories but had nothing that our body can use.  We’ve had a big cup of sugar that will give us little more than a muffin top. 

 

Even during the recession, these visits have increased; another of the “lipstick effect” trends, as modest expenses become treats we are entitled to, even when we cut back drastically in our budgets. 

 

 

Coffee is the innocent victim in all of this

 

The innocent victim in all of this is the actual coffee itself.  Coffee in moderation has been linked positively to better brain function, memory and potentially a diminished risk of Alzheimers.  Athletes and the labour force alike know they will get a performance boost from this injection of caffeine.  But coffee in its strong, unadulterated form is not what we are all ordering when we walk into Starbucks or Costa.  (We considered calling this article ‘Starbesity.’)  Even after factoring in a splash of cream and sugar to a regular coffee or tea, we still hold in our hands a mere 60-100 calories.  However, should we happen to order some form of venti mocha chocolate mystery syrup over a whipped cream creation, we have upwards of 500-600 calories in our grasp. 

 

The sugar and calories aren’t as obvious as you think

 

So the next time you are pondering your coffee order, try weaning yourself off the ½ pint of milk that could be in your latte and go for a cappuccino as well as dropping to a smaller size to cut in half the calories and sugar.  Or for the maximum effect on your waistline, order an espresso or an Americano – it is vitally important you don’t unknowingly drink the calorie equivalent of your lunch before you’ve even had breakfast!

 

And, as you shave off those unnecessary calories from your habitual order, remember those shops did not accidentally design their floor layout so that you shuffle slowly past a glass case full of cakes and muffins, mesmerised into spending more money while you wait in line.  They do it because at the end of the day it is good for their profit margins and they are looking out for their bottom line, as opposed to looking out for your bottom. 

 

 

 

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