It’s that time of year again! PUMPKIN SPICE time!!! You can see the lines already forming at Starbucks around Charleston and Mount Pleasant. It’s a holiday staple and according to Forbes, a financial institution: “[We] pegged the pumpkin spice industry at more than $500 million in 2015.“ That’s a lotta Lattes!!!
And while we all love getting in the holiday mood, it turns out that this particular tradition is NOT so healthy. In spite of it’s benevolent name, these pumpkin-y treats are not exactly wholesome. HealthLine quotes Kristin Kirkpatrick, M.S., R.D., L.D., a dietitian and manager of wellness nutrition services at Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute: “The concept of pumpkin and spices, there are so many health benefits. Unfortunately, that’s similar to saying apple pie is healthy because it’s apple. It’s taking a concept that’s healthy and making it more of a dessert type of drink.” It appears that our sweet seasonal obsession has a sour side.
What Happens When You Drink a Pumpkin Spice Latte
So what actually happens to your body when you drink a Pumpkin Spice (or any sugary flavor) Latte? This infographic from Cosmo says it all:
The article continues: “A grande Starbucks PSL with 2 percent milk and whipped cream contains about 20 percent of a day’s worth of calories and fat without providing the body any actual food. It also contains the equivalent of 12 teaspoons of sugar.” So essentially your body becomes loaded with sugar and caffeine which produces an instant high that lasts…oh about 15 minutes. And then you CRASH, leaving your body to crave more sugar and caffeine. It’s a vicious cycle!
Why Pumpkin Spice is So Addictive
Considering how terrible it is for our overall system, WHAT IS IT about these seasonal treats that keeps us coming back? According to the Today Show, we are BIOLOGICALLY wired to like these drinks. Madelyn Fernstrom, NBC News Health and Nutrition Editor explains: “Any combination of fat and sugar is a big draw for us. The sugar and fat interact on our taste buds to boost the flavors and make them ‘pop’ more than either one alone. Meanwhile, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves are particular taste enhancers. This is a real treat to the taste buds. Then, there’s the salt. That 16-ounce Pumpkin Spice Latte contains one-tenth of the amount of salt you should be consuming in a whole day. Salt, added to boost the overall taste, is nature’s most powerful food enhancer — to your taste buds, and ultimately to your brain.” And don’t forget the fact that caffeine is addicting in itself and THEN add in the fact that these “special” drinks are often associated with good memories and the holiday spirit—it’s no wonder that we’re hooked.
How to Pumpkin Spice Without All the Chemicals, Calories and Fat
So how can we get in the spirit of the holidays without all the calories and crashes? PopSugar offers this tasty and NATURAL recipe from Eating Bird Food by Brittany Mullins: