#PSL: Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Enjoy a Drink from Starbucks

Happy fall, y’all!

It’s finally getting to that point where I am ready to throw a scarf around my neck, slip on my boots, and pick up a hot pumpkin spice latte (#PSL) on my way to work!

It’s so crazy to think that just last week I was hiding out inside, sipping on my iced #PSL because the temps were still in the upper 80s! Welcome to TN!!

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There was a time in my life when I was afraid to drink Starbucks….in fact, I was afraid to drink anything but water. Sounds crazy, right?!


But maybe you know exactly what I’m talking about. 

Maybe you too, have been (or are currently) bound by the voice in the back of your head that tells you water is the only acceptable choice of beverage. 

I didn’t want to assume that I was up-to-date on all of the fear-monogramming surrounding Starbucks coffee, so I googled the phrase “Why I will Never Drink Starbucks Again”–here’s what I found:

“Starbuck’s whipped cream has calories in it too.” 

“Starbucks causes cancer.”

“Starbucks drinks have a lot of sugar in them.”

Let’s walk through these statements one by one: 

  1. Starbuck’s whipped cream as calories in it, too. Well… yes. This is true. The whipped cream does have calories in it, and so do most of their drinks–but why is that something to fear? We ALL need hundreds of calories every day to live. If you’re stuck up on counting or tracking calories, it can be helpful to remember that calories are just units of energy. Calories provide the energy we need to survive. If you want some of your calories to come from a Starbucks drink with whipped cream on it, go for it. One drink isn’t going to make or break your diet. When it comes to nutrition quality of life, it’s all about “finding a healthy average”, according to licensed registered dietitian, Reba Sloan. 
  2.   Starbucks causes cancer. Everything cause cancer these days, right? Microwaves, plastic, deodorant, GMOs, meats, and Starbucks. We should make a bumper sticker out of that…..In all seriousness, everyone has the freedom to make lifestyle choices based off of their opinions and personal preferences. In America, we have the freedom to chose whether or not we want to use plastic or glass, microwaves or stovetops, consume GMOs vs non-GMOs, a traditional western diet vs a plant based diet, and Starbucks vs no Starbucks. We have that privilege. Everyone should exercise their right to honor preferences. However, it’s just not valid to make the claim that Starbucks (or anything else) causes cancer. My grandmother lived to be 81 years old and used plastic water bottles, ate microwaved dinners, consumed GMOs, consumed the traditional western diet, and enjoyed Starbucks from time to time, and did not develop any type of cancer. Sure, there may be research studies that demonstrate a link between meat consumption, for example, and certain types of cancers, but correlation is not causation. As with all chronic diseases/illnesses, diet and environmental factors play just one role. If we knew what caused cancer, then we would have found a cure. So rest assured that you can enjoy a pumpkin spice latte or peppermint mocha without having to fear for your life. 
  3. Starbucks drinks have a lot of sugar in them. Some of them, like the pumpkin spice latte, absolutely do have a lot of sugar in them. There is no arguing that, and there’s no need to hide that. A tall pumpkin spice latte, for example, has just a little bit less sugar than a regular soda. Consumers have the right to know what they are drinking and what’s in it. So let’s call it what it is–many popular Starbucks drinks do have a sufficient amount of sugar in them. But let’s talk about this. Every food / drink that you consume serves a different purpose in your diet, and not all of those are related to physical health. When we look at a drink like the pumpkin spice latte, what does it have to offer nutritionally? If you ordered a tall pumpkin spice latte with 2% milk, you would getting a little bit of everything–calories, fat, carbohydrates, protein, sugar, and caffeine. The only thing you’re not really getting is fiber. Now, when we look at a drink like the pumpkin spice latte, what does it have to offer socially, mentally, emotionally? Maybe sharing a #PSL with a friend is a way to connect. Maybe you’re drained from the semester and you’re just looking for a little afternoon pick-me-up before a long night of homework and studying. Maybe you’re trying to take back your life from an eating disorder, and sipping on a #PSL is symbolic for you, a way to take a stance against ED and his rules. Maybe you saw a post on Instagram and you want to see what all of the hype is about. Maybe you just wanted to give yourself permission to honor your cravings.

Maybe there’s more to life than worrying about what one drink will do to your body. 

Everything, from water to kale to pumpkin spice lattes, can be harmful when you consume too much of it. Too much of anything isn’t a good thing for anyone.

Bottom Line: It’s all about

B A L A N C E. 

So stay warm, enjoy your weekend, and make choices that will enhance your quality of life, whether that be a drink from Starbucks or something else. But don’t make choices out of fear. 

Fear is a

L I A R. 

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