Enjoy pumpkin-spiced drinks with your waistline in mind

Learn how to enjoy fall flavors without packing on the pounds

Photo: Screenshot via Cleveland Clinic News Service
Photo: Screenshot via Cleveland Clinic News Service

One thing that is synonymous with fall and coffee are pumpkin-flavored coffee drinks.

But, according to Ariana Cucuzza, RD, of Cleveland Clinic, store-bought pumpkin coffee drinks are known for being packed full of calories and sugar.

So, she recommends making modifications to your order.

"When you're out, there's a couple of things you can do, for instance, you can choose a dairy alternative - usually they're lower in calories - such as unsweetened almond milk, or coconut milk," said Cucuzza. 

Cucuzza said you can also minimize the damage by asking for an unsweetened drink – which enables you to add your own sweetener and control how much is going in.

Many coffee shops use a pre-made mix, so when you don't have control over how much sugar and other fats are added in, she recommends asking for a smaller size.

You can also try making your own healthier pumpkin coffee drink at home.

"You can try adding a little bit of canned pumpkin – about a tablespoon – along with some cinnamon, some nutmeg, and some vanilla. Blend it up with a little bit of full-fat coconut cream, and it's amazing," said Cucuzza.

If you don't have the resources to make your own drink at home, consider going ‘off the menu' while you're out.

Cucuzza recommends starting with a regular black coffee and adding a little of your favorite flavoring.

If you decide to indulge in a calorie-rich coffee, just be sure to avoid pairing it with a sugary treat.

"I think if you're going to indulge in something that's going to be a little bit sweeter of a beverage, then you should make a good choice to have with it, maybe a handful of nuts or a cup of oatmeal, in place of another sweetened food," said Cucuzza. 

Cucuzza said it's okay to indulge in a sweet pumpkin coffee every once in a while, but think of it as an occasional indulgence, and not something that you have every morning as part of your coffee routine.