Why Dietitians Don't Freak Out About the Unicorn Frappuccino (or Churros, Pumpkin Spice Lattes, etc.)
People are FREAKING OUT about the new Unicorn Frappuccino from Starbucks. Only available through April 23rd, it starts off "sweet and fruity transforming to pleasantly sour." You can swirl it "to reveal a color-changing spectacle of purple and pink." People are heading to Starbucks in droves, demanding this pink and blue drink with "magical" sprinkles.
After release of the Unicorn Frapp, an interesting internet backlash ensued. People were quick to criticize Starbucks and the amount of sugar in their limited edition beverage.
This meme is for a Venti sized Unicorn Frappuccino. The Grande (medium) has 59 grams of sugar.
Yes, this is a lot of sugar. Fifty-nine grams is the equivalent of almost 15 teaspoons, or 5 tablespoons of sugar. That's over 1/4 cup of sugar. Yes, it's a lot.
But is anyone surprised?
I am the first to say that the Unicorn Frappuccino and any of the blended beverages at Starbucks are not quite "health-promoting foods." I just think that the internet backlash on the "evil" qualities of this drink are a bit extreme and feed into our "good versus bad" mentality around food. Here's why:
1. Helloooooooo - it's a pink and blue sparkling drink topped with whipped cream and magic fairy dust. Did we expect it to be a low sugar option? Furthermore, is anyone drinking it because they think it's going to be the healthiest part of their day? No. Consumers want to know what the hype is about and are curious about a limited offer product. I'm pretty sure most well-informed adults know that it's not a low-sugar health drink.
2. The Grande Gingerbread Frappuccino has 58 grams of sugar - almost exactly the same as the Unicorn Frapp. It should be no surprise that most Frappuccinos are high in sugar.
3. Technically (and my dietitian friends will appreciate this), not all of the sugar in this beverage is added sugar. (Stay with me for a second.) The second ingredient is milk, which is inherently high in lactose - yup, a sugar. You can't take the lactose (sugar) out of milk. Anything made with milk/yogurt or fruit will contain sugar, even if it's not added sugar. Seeing a sugar content on a label doesn't automatically make a product "unhealthy."
4. Does anyone really drink a Venti...or a Grande for that matter? I've had sips of some seasonal Frapps and they are HUGELY sweet - so much so that I am done after a taste or two. Sometimes enjoying a few bites or drinks of something we really want to try satisfies our cravings and allows us to experience something new without putting us into a sugar coma (or literally causing diabetes, like some of these memes have suggested).
5. The sugar shaming has gotten a little out of hand and is borderline offensive. Every post I see on social media of someone excited about this drink is peppered with comments about how much sugar it contains. Why don't we do that for donuts or ice cream or other sweetened beverages? Friend is in Hawaii enjoying shaved ice? Why aren't we looking up its sugar content? What about this Unicorn Frapp makes it OK for people to point out how "unhealthy" something is? I constantly see foods on social media...but I don't go around commenting about their healthfulness (or lack thereof) or shaming the poster about the amount of sugar in their snack. We eat for reasons other than health, and that's OK.
The more you get to know the Feeding Littles philosophy (perhaps through our online courses), the more you will learn that freaking out about the healthfulness of a food, especially one that's not eaten very often, is counterproductive. Kids pick up on our food neuroses and begin to internalize our good versus bad mentality, which can set some kiddos up for struggles with food down the road. If you don't think obsession with healthy foods is a problem, I urge you to read more about orthorexia, or sit with me every day as I work with clients whose lives revolve around food.
Moral of the story? Serve your family tasty, satisfying foods and leave some wiggle room for "play foods" (a term coined by Elyse Resch, author of Intuitive Eating). When you eat, pay attention to your food and try to savor the flavors. Don't freak out about a cookie or Frappuccino here or there; sit, enjoy the food, and try to take in the flavors and the experience. Perhaps your taste buds love it but your stomach doesn't, so listen to that signal and make a choice about how that food makes you feel physically. Keep your language around food neutral so that your kids don't think that there are "good foods" and "bad foods." Let them have their fill when you serve desserts without commenting on every bite.
As for me, will I try the Unicorn Frapp? Probably not - but that's mainly because I don't like tart flavors. Chocolate Lava Cake Frappuccino? You best believe I'd have some of that!
I'm going to let you in on a lil' secret: I hate complicated breakfasts during the morning rush just as much as the next gal. It seems that we never have enough time in the AM, so in order to keep some semblance of sanity, breakfast needs to be easy. Enter these Protein Superfood Pancakes. (Oh, another secret: dietitians kind of hate the word "superfood," but I added it in there to remind you that you can put almost anything in these suckers - chia seeds, spinach, pumpkin, blueberries, you name it!)
The best part? Make these on the weekend or after the kids are in bed on a weeknight so you can just reheat, top and eat during the morning rush! They freeze very well too. We top ours with almond butter or Nuttzo, smashed raspberries, or sliced strawberries. Of course, a little melted Kerrygold butter and some real maple syrup would be delicious as well! Refrigerate for 3-4 days or freeze for 3 months. We usually make a big batch (triple the recipe) so we have plenty for the week!
You know those nights when you need something fast, filling and tasty? Bonus points if it's high in protein, omega-3s, calcium and veggies, right! BOOM! Enter our super simple Salmon Noodle Casserole. We're all about balance here at Feeding Littles, and we know that sometimes moms just need easy recipes that their kids (and husbands) are excited to try. This is a spin on an old classic that many of us grew up eating, but it's gluten-free for those who need it and is a great way to incorporate more fatty fish into your diet. You can prep it all the night before and keep it covered in the fridge before baking the next day as well. Once it's cooked, keep leftovers in the fridge for 3-4 days or freeze individual servings for fast meal prep. As you can see, I often use the leftovers in my preschooler's lunch since it makes a really big batch.
I prefer Pacific brand cream of mushroom soup over your typical canned brand because it has ingredients you can pronounce and the box is BPA-free. Feel free to sub out other types of pasta, veggies, or even fish.
Hey world! Feeding Littles is finally jumping on the blog train! About time, right?
We have been sharing nutrition and feeding info since the Feeding Littles Group on Facebook started in 2013, and now we will have a more streamlined location where can look back and easily reference your favorite recipes, feeding tips, product ideas and more.
Let's meet, shall we?
Say hey-o to Judy! Judy Delaware, OTR/L, CLC is an Occupational Therapist specializing in Feeding Therapy with children age 0-3. She lives in Boulder, Colorado with her husband Louie and her whippets and has children in their twenties (Prescott and Elise). Judy works with about 30 private clients per week via her very busy private practice Positive Therapeutic Beginnings. She helps children with medical issues, developmental delays, and other conditions that prevent them from eating well. She loves food, staying active and traveling. She and her family members are avid skiers and love being outdoors in beautiful Colorado! Judy is oftentimes referred to as the "Toddler Whisperer." or more commonly, Foodie Judy. No joke people, she's incredible with young children. It's magical to watch!
That's me, Megan. (Parents will appreciate this - besides professional head shots, I can't find a single photo of myself alone! #momlife)
I'm Megan McNamee MPH, RDN, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who lives in Scottsdale, Arizona. I do most of the social media and website work for Feeding Littles, although much of the content comes from Judy! I have two daughters (Hannah, 4 and Mia, 1 at the time of this post) and am married to my college sweetheart Greg. (Greg helps us with some of our social media as well!) My 10 year old dogs Waldo and Wanda are hilarious and completely insane! I work part=time, mostly from home, and maintain about 7 different jobs working in various capacities with Babymoon Inn, Modern Milk, Wellspring Integrated Therapies, Rebarre Studio (as a barre instructor), Silverleaf Golf Club, and as a Certified LEAP Therapist helping clients with food sensitivities. I like taking barre and HIIT classes, eating good food (especially if it contains avocados), and binge watching Netflix shows after my kids go to sleep!