Eating in cafes – how to make some healthier choices!
- How much caffeine is ok? It is best to keep it to 400mg or less a day. There is roughly 125mg in a single shot (varies hugely depending on the blend/brew etc) but overall aiming for no more than 3 single shots/day is a good guide.
- Too much caffeine can REALLY interfere with the QUALITY of sleep you get. Caffeine has a long half-life meaning if you have a coffee at 7am, at 7pm there is still roughly ¼ of the caffeine in your system. If you have more than 3 shots of coffee a day and find yourself waking up still feeling tired and in NEED of coffee (or another caffeinated drink) to keep you going, it is time to reflect on your caffeine intake…as well as how much sleep you are getting. People’s sensitivity to caffeine can vary so that is something to be mindful of, and if you struggle with anxiety, this is something to seriously take a look at reducing.
- Best to do decaf in the afternoon, although do be mindful, decaf coffee does not mean caffeine free. Decaf can still have between 15-30% of the caffeine in a normal coffee, so if you have lots, it can still add up. Herbal teas can be a good option, but be sure any teas you have in the afternoon are not black tea based, or you have the same issue. Chai for example, is black tea.
- What about the type of milk? There is such a variety to choose from these days. The main thing to remember is that despite the nice feel of the ‘plant milk’ name, these milks are often still very processed and often the ones used in cafes will have added sugar. They can certainly be helpful if you have an allergy or intolerance, but one thing to bear in mind is that the likes of almond and coconut milk have very little protein so they won’t make you feel as full as the coffee made with cow’s milk. Soymilk is, however, higher in protein. There is no right or wrong, it is all about context and how these milks fit into the rest of what you eat/drink, but it helps to know what’s in the coffee you are choosing.
Boy it is good isn’t it?! But best to keep the hollandaise on the side and add it on yourself. Two heaped tbsp (40mls) of this creamy sauce has the same number of kcals/kJ as a Moro bar or an extra 4 eggs! Basically, if you have eggs benny and bacon for breakfast, you are having about ½ the number of calories you need in a day in one meal and a LOT of salt in the bacon. When I go out, I tend to go for poached eggs on wholegrain with avocado.
CAKES, MUFFINS and SLICES
I was amazed and slightly horrified when I weighed the cakes and slices I took with me to TV, they each weighed about 150-200g!! When you think about what they are made of…butter, sugar, flour…wow, there’s a lot of it.
- The muffin was somewhere between 500-600kcals, and that was without frosting on top which some muffins have
- That wedge of cake was around 900kcals
- The choc caramel slice 950kcals
- The scone was only 100g and around 400kcals, but some of the bigger ones I have seen in cafes would, again, be getting up to the 600+ mark.
I am not one to suggest that we all start counting calories by any means as being healthy and feeling good is far better than counting numbers, but this just gives you some frame of reference when the ‘average’ adult needs around 2000kcals a day. 1000kcals on a doorstop slice of cake?! It’s not hard to see the challenge here. Even if it is a gluten free slab of cake, the calories will be similar. So really, size here is key.