You CAN mix convenience with healthy eating: learn what to order at Dunkin Donuts when trying to lose weight.
Any mom will tell you that we have our regular “spots” in our daily travels when driving our kids around to school and their many activities. For 2 years, I spent 3 afternoons per week in my Dunkin Donuts “office” while my son attended taekwondo next door. Although they are known for, well, donuts- there are actually a considerable number of items on the menu that fall into my acceptable guidelines. Here’s my take on what to order at Dunkin Donuts when trying to lose weight:
First, you can find nutrition information for almost any menu item online. There’s even a customize your beverage tool to account for changes in type of milk and added flavors.
First and foremost, watch out for hidden sugar!
Let’s do a quick review of added sugars before we start choosing menu items. The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to 24 grams (6 teaspoons) per day for women and kids, and 36 grams (9 teaspoons) per day for men. We are talking about ADDED sugars here like the kind in syrupy coffee drinks, NOT the kind present in milk. That’s important when looking at the nutritional info in Dunkin Donuts beverages. For reference, 1 cup of milk (any kind) contains 12 grams of naturally occurring sugars and 8 grams of protein.
For example, a medium iced coffee with skim milk and no calorie sweetener contains 40 calories and 5 grams of sugar, all from the milk. Therefore, none of the sugar grams are ADDED.
Basically if you want to enjoy a coffee drink for the fewest number of calories, the way to go is a hot or iced latte lite (made with skim milk and no calorie sweetener), a hot or iced macchiato or cappuccino with skim milk and no calorie sweetener, or regular or cold brew coffee with skim milk.
Example: A medium hot macchiato with skim milk will only cost 70 calories and 11 grams of naturally occurring sugar. The bonus is the protein provided- 8 grams which are found in 1 cup of milk. The same size French Vanilla Macchiato will set you back 240 calories and a whopping 46 grams of sugar, most of it added. That’s almost 2 days’ worth. Not worth it to me.
*While I don’t love artificial sweeteners, I will consume them on occasion. I prefer stevia when I need to add sweetness to coffee, etc. As Dunkin Donuts doesn’t offer it (YET), I often bring some with me and add my own.
Note: Shot vs. Swirl
If you want a flavor added to your coffee, Dunkin Donuts offers “shots” which are nearly calorie-free flavor enhancers NOT syrups. They are more of an essence, the same as if you brewed hazelnut coffee in your kitchen. There’s a hint of flavor but no added sugar. These can really help to add fun to your drink and are available in: blueberry, caramel, coconut, French vanilla, hazelnut, raspberry and toasted almond. Just make sure not to order a “swirl”- that’s another word for syrup.
Don’t forget about the tea!
One of the healthiest drink options is iced green tea. It’s available in unsweetened flavors like peach and raspberry. Nearly calorie free, you’ll get a slight metabolic boost from the green tea and with the extra flavor, you won’t miss the sugar at all.
Don’t be fooled by fake health foods like the Reduced Fat Blueberry Muffin- it has 410 calories and 39 grams of sugar! That’s basically a meal sized bucket of sugar and flour. No thanks.
Also, a multigrain or whole grain bagel, while sounding healthy, will still provide 320-350 calories before you add the cream cheese or butter. That’s the equivalent of 4 slices of bread. Of course, I’d choose whole grains over a donut, but just beware that even whole grain items can be too large and contribute an excessive amount of calories.
Recommended food items:
For a quick breakfast or lunch, there are some go-to items that are not bad nutritionally and are certainly better than most of the typical fast food fare:
-The Egg White Veggie Flatbread is my favorite. Add a cup of coffee with skim milk and you have a pretty balanced breakfast with a good source of protein.
-Another option is an Egg and Cheese Wake-Up Wrap or an Egg White Veggie Wake-Up Wrap. Those are smaller than the flatbread so consider pairing one of those with a latte lite or a macchiato for extra protein.
Another note: all of the options I’ve featured are generally appropriate for people with diabetes, assuming the carbs and sugars are considered as part of their personal meal plan. If you have any questions, consult a registered dietitian or your doctor.
If you are a Dunkin Donuts fan, I’d love to hear what your faves are…and if you have any ordering secrets to share. Please leave me a comment with your suggestions!