Top Foods to Avoid #1: Coffee Creamer

A friend once asked me, “As a dietitian, what will you just REFUSE to eat?”

My first offender: COFFEE CREAMER. I know what you’re thinking. So many of us are stubborn when it comes to our changing how we take our coffee! Here are a few good reasons to avoid processed creamers:

SUGAR. Usually, 1 tablespoon of creamer has 4 grams of sugar. Think that isn’t much? It’s the equivalent of 1 teaspoon of sugar, or one-third of your serving of creamer!

TRANS-FAT. Also known as fully or partially-hydrogenated oils, they increase levels of harmful LDL cholesterol, decrease levels of good HDL cholesterol, and increase inflammation. So why are they in our food? Because they prolong shelf life and enhance flavor. “But it says ‘0 grams’ of trans fat!” Not so fast. The Food and Drug Administration, who regulates food labeling, allows producers to ROUND the numbers found in the nutrition facts on the food label. This means “0 grams” may or may not be 0.4 grams. You must read the ingredients listing for hydrogenated oils to truly avoid them

SERVING SIZE. “But, Stacie, is it really that harmful in such small amounts?” It all adds up. We should all limit added sugars and trans fats. In fact, we suggest you avoid them entirely. So how much do you actually consume? Let’s try an old-fashioned word problem: Say you consume 3 tablespoons of creamer per 8 ounces of coffee and have two cups a day. That would add up to 2.4 grams of hydrogenated oil and 24 grams of sugar A DAY if you’re a regular coffee drinker. That’s 876 grams of manufactured, toxic fat and almost 9,000 grams of sugar (35,000 calories) a year!

TRICKERY.
“But I use the fat-free / sugar-free version.” In many cases, if they remove one offender, they increase another. Low-fat products tend to have more sugar and processed ingredients. Sugar-free products tend to have more fat. If you must use a creamer, I recommend regular cream, half & half, or milk, because they’re more natural.

Personally, I learned to drink coffee black after I read “It Starts with Food” (Hartwig/Hartwig). (Check out my book review HERE!) If you can’t go black, I suggest using a flavored coffee and plain creamer instead of a flavored creamer and plain coffee.

Join me next week for the next food my “naughty list!”

– True Health Clinical Health Consultant Stacie Wheatley, MA, RD, LD

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