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Surviving on Starbucks for a Year - Can It Be Done?

Jun 12, 2013
A Seattleite named Beautiful Existence (her real legal name) decided to challenge herself to eating only Starbucks foods for all of 2013. She regularly updates her blog, For1YearOfMyLife.com.

She's reported that the diet is going well and that she has lost weight.

The smoldering question is: can this feat be accomplished healthfully? Starbucks no doubt has come up with some great, healthier options to eat...occasionally. But all year? Well, of course it can be healthy, to a point. It depends on each individual person and what they will choose. And for most everyone, it's not the healthiest way to nourish your body.

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Lack of Certain Nutrients

Starbucks is doing an awesome job of offering a greater number of healthy menu options. But it's not expected to cover all the nutrients needed, and supplements may be necessary while following this diet for a whole year. For example, a year of Starbucks lacks the proper amount of omega-3. A typical sandwich will only provide 5g of fiber for a daily total of fiber around 15g, far less than the recommended 25-38g for most people.

Cholesterol/Saturated Fat


The Panini and Bistro Boxes have their fair share of unwelcome cholesterol and saturated fat. So if you're trying to stay away from them, well, good luck. For those wanting to stick to a vegetarian meal plan, the only foods in the sandwich category are Egg Salad, Roasted Vegetable Panini and Roasted Tomato Mozzarella Panini. Sounds yummy, but I wouldn't want to be eating those 50 times a year! If you're trying to eat Vegan, forget it!

Dairy

If you were trying to avoid dairy due to lactose intolerance, allergy or just an aversion, you'd be hard pressed to try to eat only at Starbucks for a year.  A common fault of most eating establishments is the heavy reliance on dairy products, namely cheese.

Limited Variety of Raw Veggies

Starbucks has come a long way in what healthy options they provide, and they are, in my opinion, one of the restaurants leading the way in this area. But let's face it, they are a fast food chain with limitations on what they can offer. The sandwiches have cooked and roasted vegetables. The Bistro Boxes have an impressive array of fresh veggies for a fast food café, such as green beans, cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks, cucumber and bell pepper. And the addition of Starbucks' Evolution Fresh cold pressed juices helps. But with the current recommendations of more than five to nine servings of fruits and veggies, wouldn't you start craving the freedom halfway through the year to eat grilled eggplant, steamed broccoli, sautéed kale or Pico de Gallo whenever you wanted it?

Sugar

If you were trying to avoid sugar, you would be hard pressed to do so while eating at Starbucks for a year, unless you want plain oatmeal and no dried fruits on/with anything (which contain added sugar), and were able to ignore all their wonderful sugary treats.  

Can You Lose Weight Eating Only at Starbucks?

If you expend more calories than you take in, and stick to a calorie level that encourages weight loss, you will lose weight, even at Starbucks. That's just science. There are many ways to lose weight though, and many of them are not healthful.

Also, it depends on who you are. It could happen, if (big if) you are like Christine Hall, also from Seattle. Hall is a librarian who did a great job shunning the sweet treats and double mocha lattes and lost 80 pounds sticking only to Starbucks' more nutritious offerings. For some, losing weight is so urgent; the end almost justifies the means. But ideally, this is not the healthiest way to lose weight.

Bottom Line

So, yes, you can survive while eating only Starbucks offerings for a year. And you can actually be healthier than you were, depending on where you "were." But is it the healthiest way to do eat and/or lose weight? No. Now please excuse me while I go stock up on a Cheese and Fruit Bistro Box, pumpkin bread and a tall soy decaf mocha latte!

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Catherine S. Hains, MS RD CLT has been interested in health and nutrition since she was a young child. Growing up in Fort Worth, TX, she earned a Bachelor's Degree in Broadcast Journalism from Texas Christian University and wrote for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for 12 years. Her life-long interest in nutrition and disease prevention never waned, and she went on to earn her Master's Degree in Nutrition from Eastern Michigan University. Cathy, now a Registered Dietitian, owns Lighthouse Nutrition and Wellness in Gig Harbor, WA where she enjoys inspiring people of all ages to make losing weight and living a healthy lifestyle easy, fun and permanent. She enjoys good food, cooking and food preparation, and showing others how healthy this can be. Her other pastimes include traveling, art, music and family life. She also likes staying fit with tennis, bicycling, walking and jogging, researching nutrition and helping clients be at their best. For more information on Cathy, visit www.lighthouse-nutrition.com or write to Catherine at info@lighthouse-nutrition.com.




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