The new Devil Drink

This week in the news, the public is losing their minds over the new Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino, with a whopping 78 grams of sugar and 80 grams of carbohydrates for the Venti (24 oz.) size.

As a health coach, I could tell you a number of reasons why no one needs that amount of sugar in a day, let alone in one single drink.  However, I’m choosing to let the facts speak for themselves and let YOU make the decision.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the maximum amount of added sugars for men is 150 calories per day (37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons). For women, it’s slightly less, at 100 calories per day (25 grams or 6 teaspoons).

The awareness of added sugar in food will be easier to calculate when the new labeling guidelines set to roll out in 2018, but for now, we have to do a little math.  If you notice the AHA guidelines above, the calculation is roughly to take the grams of sugar and divide by 4, to give you a number in a more easily recognized amounts.  Grams may be hard to visualize, but teaspoons are not.

Let me give you a few home-made visuals:

78 grams of sugar (19 teaspoons)

88 grams of sugar (22 teaspoons)

I just love my Pioneer Woman measuring bowls for things like this!

Why the second picture with 22 teaspoons of sugar? Let’s say you decide against the demon Unicorn drink and decide to get a plain old Cafe Vanilla Frappuccino, “for health reasons.”  According to the Starbucks website, if you would actually be consuming MORE sugar.  But it’s okay, right?  Because again, according to their site, it “tastes like happiness.”

But wait, let me mix this up for you in a coffee cup.  That’ll make it more palatable, right?

This reminds me of the original Men in Black movie.  Remember Edgar? (“Eggar”)


It’s very smart marketing for companies to appeal to emotions.  Food has long had an emotional attachment, going back to cookies and milk your mom may have had waiting on you when you came home from school, or that bowl of cereal you’d have before bed when you just needed a little somethin’ somethin’ in your tummy to help you sleep.  (Oh, if we only had known then what we know now!)

It certainly shouldn’t be a surprise that we consume way more sugar than we need in a day.  The Unicorn drink is something fun and different that’s caught our attention, and someone savvy enough to read nutrition labels and do some investigating posted the information.  Others jumped on the bandwagon, especially those who commented, “I never go there – too expensive,” or “that’s why I don’t go there!”  Well, hello, they may be passing by there to get a Cookies & Cream Milkshake at Chick-Fil-A (81 grams of sugar) or an Oreo Flurry at McDonalds (103 grams of sugar) based on principle.  It’s interesting to note, however, that each of those drinks have roughly the same amount of sugar for a 16-oz size, not the Venti 24-oz.  Those restaurants aren’t being vilified, or in Chick-Fil-A’s case, when they are vilified, it’s definitely not for their menu items!

Now, am I telling you that you should NEVER drink something with this much sugar?


What I’m telling you is a slice of chocolate cake might only have 30 grams of sugar.  Let that sink in for a minute.

Is there a chance I’ll be drinking either one of these drinks?

I would never say never (see what I did there?), but it would be highly unlikely.  For one thing, I prefer to eat my calories than drink them.  I also know that amount of sugar either makes my anxiety worse or is a depression trigger for me.  For me, it’s just not worth it.

So let’s bottom-line this: It’s OUR responsibility to take action when it comes to our own health.  The best thing we can do for ourselves is to stay on top of the information read. those. labels.  Right? Don’t blame the establishment for your own ignorance when they do their due diligence and publish the facts about their offerings.  We’re killing ourselves with our own knives and forks – and straws in this case.  Be smart.  Be aware.  Educate yourself.  And work with your friendly health coach!

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