Opinion

Gayla Cawley: Eating healthy?

I always make a concerted effort to eat healthy, but over the past few months, I’ve kicked things up a notch.

What’s become alarming over the past few months is realizing the so-called healthy food choices I thought I was making were not the best choices after all.

What’s been the biggest shake-up is the most recent effort on my part to eliminate as much sugar as possible from my coffee experience, which usually comes via Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts.

First, it was eliminating sugar and cream, in favor of soy or almond milk, and then it was realizing that the syrups in the coffee that give it flavor were sugar culprits as well.

That’s definitely been the toughest switch — I can’t work up as much excitement over a plain iced coffee or Americano with soy milk vs. something that has hazelnut or some other syrup added.

It’s also led me to the conclusion that I’m not as big a coffee fan as I thought I was. I’m not so much into the actual coffee as I am into the sweet add-ons.

Then, I thought I’d kick things up another notch and substitute some coffee orders, in favor of a green tea latte. What’s more healthy than a green drink, I naively thought, before checking the nutritional information two weeks after starting to order the latte on a regular basis.

Well, it turns out, the green tea latte with soy milk masquerades as healthy, packing 43 grams of sugar into a venti size, which is already nearly double the 25 grams that the World Health Organization recommends as the daily sugar intake for an adult.

The shock — which was akin to what I felt after realizing long ago that restaurant salads do not automatically equal healthy — has somewhat subsided, as I’m consuming one right now, albeit with more guilt than what used to come with the experience.

Add in the arguments that soy milk may have its own health concerns, and now there’s a real problem.

Acclimating to a lower sugar experience on most days was an adjustment, but things start to get tough when a daily workout is factored in. Unsurprisingly, my run on the treadmill is a lot tougher on days where I’m drinking bland coffee without sugar from added flavor.

At first, I was annoyed at my low energy level at the gym, but eventually, through classic overanalyzing, I made the connection.

But, nevertheless, I’m determined to stick to staying away from sugar as much as possible. I do feel better, but sometimes I find myself missing the days when I was blissfully unaware of the health risks that my daily flavored-caffeine run was dishing out.

More Stories In Opinion