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Perhaps the most important thing when you look at trying to think about the changes that you can make are not necessarily the changes that are very obvious but the things that you don't think about. And with food hidden calories represent probably the biggest challenge that people have on a day to day basis.
And historically we ate very simply, we had water at the table, we tended to have very simple foods but as things get more complex and the quality of our options improves so do the hidden calories. And perhaps there is no better example than coffee. You know there are now something like 13,000 Starbucks across the US.
A simple espresso without any milk is about a calorie. But if I were to have something like a latte with plain, straightforward whole milk it is about 200 calories and if I move towards a mocha then you are having nearly 400 calories if it is made with whole milk. To put that in context a latte or cappuccino is about the same number of calories as a chocolate bar. And a mocha about two chocolate bars. That gives you the option of a simple choice. You can either have an espresso or you can have a latte. You can either have whole milk or you can have 2% because the benefit of 2% fat is that a mocha goes from about 400 calories to 200 calories. And a latte or cappuccino goes from 200 calories to 60 calories. And we might be having 3 or 4 of these coffees a day without thinking about it and then there is iced coffees and frappes and milkshakes, all huge amounts of calories.
And then when we do tend to have a coffee we might have a piece of cake or something like a piece of banana bread as a treat and so whereby the latte might be 400 calories and that's without sugar, that's without even adding any sugar that's purely from the sugar that is in the milk if we add a piece of banana bread then perhaps another 600-700 calories on top. So in total, having a coffee and a piece of banana bread might be about 1000 calories which is, for a lot of people, about maybe half, or more than half of their total daily requirement.
And to put it into perspective if you want to walk the energy off then a kilometre burns about 80 calories so a mocha might be somewhere like a 5km walk If you add a piece of banana bread then you are looking at around 13-14km, just to burn off something that took 2-3 mins to consume.
So next time you are having a coffee and you are thinking about your options just think about the choices that you have. Do you go with less milk? Do you get rid of the sugar? Do you go with a smaller cup? Because if you are doing that a few times a day, making a small difference repeatedly, over the course of a week, a month, a year, will have a massive impact.
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