Spur-of-the-moment purchases are rarely good for our pocketbooks, not to mention our waistlines. From last-minute additions to your grocery cart, restaurant orders and coffee drinks, here are some top impulse buys that might be making you fat.
Coffee House Add-Ons
First stop - the coffee house. Nutrition expert and creator of the Truce With Food method Ali Shapiro says that while stopping for coffee is as routine as stopping for gas, those extra-shot, double-whipped add-ons last once on the lips, forever on the hips.
“Most coffee drinks have more sugar in them than you should have in your entire day,” says Shapiro. “We’re attracted to the coffee drinks because, first, they give us a mood lift. They give us a little adrenaline rush, but then about two hours later, our blood sugar crashes and our hunger and cravings come back like a tsunami.”
Shapiro says a Grande Caffe Vanilla Frappuccino from Starbucks, for example, has 430 calories and 69 grams of sugar, which is the equivalent of about 18 packets. To cut the calories at Starbucks, she suggests customers order a “short” size. It’s not on the menu but the same drink in the “short” size comes with 33% less calories. “At Dunkin Donuts, [they] have the Vanilla Carmel Swirl Latte. What I don’t like about [it] is it has high-fructose corn syrup, which stimulates your appetite even more than sugar,” says Shapiro.
She recommends for those that like a little milk in their drinks to go for whole milk instead of skim or two-percent. The reason: Although many are afraid of fat, sugar is the real enemy in coffee drinks. “When you drink whole milk, the natural fat eases the blood sugar crash that you have, so a couple hours later your hunger and your cravings are significantly less than if you went for the skim milk,” Shapiro says.
Checkout Aisle Sweets
Next, the checkout aisle is where we tend to spend a lot of time waiting and consequently staring at rows of mints, gum, candy and chocolate. And if you tend to pick up some last-minute items here, Shapiro says watch out. They may be secretly sabotaging your diet.
“The problem with sugar-free gum, diet soda and sugar-free mints is that companies just swap [in] artificial sweeteners for sugar,” Shapiro says. “When we eat these, we tend to be hungrier later with the hormone leptin and the neurotransmitter serotonin, which make us feel satiated and full.”
Appetizers, Sides and Desserts
Going out to eat can be a treat, but we may overdo it at times. We don’t just get the entrée. We get the appetizer, dessert, sides, etc. So how do we keep it simple when eating out? Shapiro says to help keep your diet in perspective, consider this: ordering an appetizer and dessert can add anywhere from 1,000 to 3,500 calories to your meal.
“I think sometimes just knowing that kind of stuff wakes you up,” says Shapiro. And research shows you’re more likely to overeat when you have more variety. Shapiro points to a study where participants tried several different types of food. Those who tried more than one flavor profile ate 44% more than those who stuck with just one.