Do you even like coffee bro?

People ask me about coffee all of the time and rightfully so. Coffee is pretty damn essential in adulthood. I myself live for about 3 cups of knock your socks off black coffee in the morning. In fact– don’t text me, call me, touch me, hug me or expect anything from me until I’ve had at least half of a cup. Then it’s maybe safe.

I’ve been drinking my coffee black for as long as I can remember. It was not a sacrifice I made for a healthier lifestyle so in a way, it’s hard for me to relate to this concern. After weeks of reflection I am at a complete 50/50 on my advice to people who are seeking alternative coffee mixers to jumpstart their mornings.

Honestly? If you can 100% hold yourself accountable for what you are putting in your coffee it is NOT that big of a deal. If giving up your hazelnut creamer sounds like death then don’t do it! Make that your tiny treat for the day! If you eat relatively low in sugar all day long but require a reasonable serving in your coffee then it’s probably totally fine, seriously.

I conducted a tiny Facebook survey a few days ago to get an idea of what other people are putting in their coffee. I got some awesome feedback. Some of my favorites were the couple of women who were basically like, “Coffee is life before my kids wake up. I will never sacrifice a thing from that cup.” I love that philosophy! If it’s your jam then own it. The secret to living a realistic and long term healthy lifestyle is finding that balance and there are some things that simply don’t budge.

With that said,

I am a f-i-r-m believer that mornings set the stage for the entire day and this is why I’m 50/50 on coffee advice. If I start a day with exceptions then I am way more likely to have a whole day of exceptions. Plus I know that people who are jumping into their own health journey want to overcome these challenges and make these sacrifices because small changes can have a HUGE impact. I didn’t have to sacrifice sugar in my coffee but there are other things I’m still silently weeping the absence of, trust me.

I think the reality is a lot of coffee drinkers never actually come to terms with exactly what and how much is going into their coffee. And that’s a problem.

So what should you avoid in your coffee?

There’s a lot of conflicting health information, trending diets and theories out there but I’m pretty sure that SUGAR is a flat out “no” across the board. Sugar is added to everything. If you aren’t a label reader then start now. Sugar content is routinely the first thing I check. It is mind blowing how much is added to every day grocery store items.

Added sugar, especially in the morning, is pretty toxic.

Last weekend we took our kids to get donuts for the second time in their lives and it didn’t take me long to remember why I never do that. By 10:30 am they were both literally crying on the floor for no reason acting sleepy, misbehaved and begging for trail mix (yes, trail mix) because they wanted to pick the M&M’s out. They were totally sugar crashing and desperate for more! I had to laugh to myself because that is exactly how I feel after copious amounts of sugar first thing in the morning, I just don’t have the freedom to act it out like toddlers!

For the sake of time I’m not going to make some scientifically compelling argument on the toxicity of sugar but it is definitely worth educating yourself on. I significantly decreased my “added sugar” consumption to almost none over the past year or two and I don’t miss or regret it for a second.

The ultimate goal for conscientious coffee drinkers, I think, is to find the least sugary way to a cup of coffee that satisfies their palette. Am I right? With this in mind I took a trip into Kroger not long ago to take a look at some coffee creamers and such. I bought a few things based on suggestions and have spent the past week taste testing something new every morning.

The most delicious trick I was told and something I will continue to do is

Cinnamon Added to Coffee Grounds

So so good! I’m not a huge cinnamon fan because it reminds me of winter time so I was skeptical to drink this when it’s legit 105 degrees outside. But this really was delicious and didn’t take anything away from the bold flavor of my black coffee. All I did was sprinkle the top of my non brewed coffee grounds in the coffeemaker with ground cinnamon. When you brew your coffee the flavor of the cinnamon makes it’s way into your cup. I also topped it off with a little bit of Fat Free ReddiWip to look fancy. This was a hit, for sure, and almost calorie-less! Fat Free ReddiWip has 1 carb per serving (that’s it. 5 calories.) and a few ingredients but the servings are so small that I don’t even bother to read the ingredients list, just pay attention to portion.

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Coming in at a close second:

Torani Sugar Free Vanilla Flavoring Syrup and Stevia

I know that sometimes the labels “fat free” and “sugar free” get a bad reputation.. This particular Torani syrup has sucralose listed as an ingredient but it’s last on the list and once again, the amount you’re consuming is so small that I don’t even regard it. If it’s replacing 3 tablespoons of sugar then for real, you’re better off.

I like this syrup and have actually bought it before because like cinnamon it simply adds to the coffee, it doesn’t overpower it.  It has no calories, fat or carbs. You can find it in the coffee aisle at grocery stores. I added some Stevia since the syrup has no real sweetness. Stevia is a zero calorie plant based sugar substitute that is fantastic to have around. You can even bake with it. It measures cup for cup like sugar. Some people may find that they can easily just replace the sugar in their coffee for Stevia and be happy!

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Califia Farms Dairy Free Almond Milk Creamer – Pecan Caramel

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There’s a ton of sugar free refrigerated creamers out there. I chose this one because it doesn’t even advertise itself that way yet the sugar content is very low (2 grams, 15 calories), the bottle was classy looking and pecan caramel sounded so good. I could drink this stuff from the bottle. In my opinion it tastes way better that way than in my coffee. I really struggle with these types of creamers because I love plain ol’ coffee but this one is made from almondmilk and coconut cream which is a delicious combo. I found it in the Almond/Soy milk section of Kroger.

Nestle CoffeeMate Single Serve Coffee Creamers

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I didn’t actually buy these but my mom did for me when I visited her this past weekend which I thought was so funny. I think these are freaking fabulous and I recommend them often because they keep you from blindly pouring 4 servings of creamer into each cup of coffee which could be 100+ calories PER CUP. Even the flavors that are not sugar free– if you’re seriously honestly truly only using 1 then you should consider cutting yourself a break. See above.

Flavored Coffee

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H-E-B Cafe Ole Texas Pecan was on point. This is some quality stuff. I didn’t add anything to it but you could top it with a serving of ReddiWip or add a little Stevia for sweetness. There are many flavored coffees on the market. My husband and I actually have a lot of fun trying out all of the flavors available in store to ground yourself. Fresh ground coffee tastes less bitter and never “burnt”. It could be a really good option for people wanting to make a full on switch to black coffee.

If you feel like you’ve exhausted every effort and tried most of these things but still think they’re all completely repulsive and just can’t get your cup to be under 3 tablespoons of sugar then I’m going to cut to the chase here…

You don’t even like coffee (bro).

You like the taste of and are most likely addicted to what you put IN your coffee (sugar). If that’s the case, well then, we can’t be friends.

Ha ha!

Ok but really if that’s the case I would highly consider exploring completely different options in the morning. Green tea? Hot tea? Matcha? Carbonated flavored water? There are certainly things out there.

I naturally have to conclude this with one final tidbit on my favorite word: balance. Remember this, anything is ok in moderation. If you are kicking butt working out and consistently eating healthy then these are the kinds of decisions you can give yourself some flexibility on! Nobody can eat flawlessly forever. And please, for me, have fun finding your very own compromising cup of joe that doesn’t leave you feeling guilty! This is exciting!

Much love,

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