Frappe Emergency

I returned to my office one afternoon last week to find a voice mail message from a friend.  There was a real sense of urgency in her voice.  Had I seen the e-mail she had sent me regarding the nutrition information on the McDonald’s Mocha Frappe?  It was nearly “happy hour” at the drive thru and she was looking for my blessing on the nutritional value of the beverage.  I called her cell phone sensing the need for an intervention.


I was aware of all the new coffee selections at McDonald’s, but had not tried any myself yet.  I’m more of a rich, black coffee kind of girl.  I was truly astonished though at the information she sent me on the Frappe, which is apparently an icey, chocolately delight.

A medium (16 oz) Mocha Frappe has a whopping 560 calories, 24 grams of fat (15 saturated – the bad kind), and 77 grams of carbohydrate.  To put this in perspective, LARGE McDonald’s fries have 500 calories, 25 grams of fat and 63 carbs.  You are slightly better off getting large fries than this beverage.

bsullivan3_sportsdrk This got me to thinking about how many unsuspecting people are driving through on a daily basis, thinking they are simply getting “coffee”.  They don’t realize the full effect of their daily treat.  I’m not just picking on McDonalds because believe it or not, there are plenty of healthy options on the menu for those who choose to order them.  Our beverage consumption in general can be very confusing, and from a total calorie standpoint, quite high.  Take many well-meaning individuals starting on their workouts who decide a Gatorade is a must after breaking a sweat.  At 200 calories a bottle, for many beginning exercisers that is all the calories they will burn.  Others think these sports drinks are a healthier alternative to pop.  They are not.  Sports drinks are great for hard core athletes who sweat a lot and need to replenish electrolytes.  Most of us just don’t work out hard enough to necessitate a sports drink.  Water works perfectly to rehydrate and is calorie free.

bsullivan3_soda Regular pop is also a big calorie pitfall for many.  A 20 oz bottle of Mountain Dew has 280 calories as does most regular soda.  Two or three bottles per day quickly add up to 600 – 900 calories a day.  There are 3500 calories in a pound.  You do the math.

My friend tentatively answered her cell phone.  She knew the likelihood of me justifying her indulgence were not good.  I started by saying “Ummm….it has good calcium.”  I went on to tell her how, nutritionally, it was a true artery clogging, diabetes stimulating menace to healthy eating.  “But”, I said, “Outside of the Frappe, what are your normal health habits?”

She recited her consumption of fruits and veggies, whole grains, lean proteins and the exercise she gets on a weekly basis.  Since the real secret to health is to practice “mostly healthy, most of the time”, I asked her if she thought she did this.  I also encouraged her to indulge in her favorite treat when she was craving it – just not every day.  Food is fun and if we don’t act on our craving impulses occasionally, they become so overwhelming that we completely go off the deep end with bad choices.  A Mocha Frappe every so often that is accompanied by otherwise healthy living should pose no harm.  Just don’t order the fries with it.

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About the author: Becky Sullivan

Becky Sullivan is the Business Health Coordinator at Mary Lanning Memorial Hospital. She earned a Master of Science Degree in Health Promotion from Nebraska Methodist College. In her role at the hospital she works with local businesses in setting up wellness programs and activities, coordinates community health education programs and directs the MLMH employee wellness program. She is also co-chair of the Hastings Chamber of Commerce Wellforce committee, member of the Hastings Health Ministry Network and member of the Healthy Hastings coalition.

3 Responses to “Frappe Emergency”

  1. Good advice, Becky! Thanks for warning us (and this “anonymous” friend) about beverages with high calorie content!

    Jennifer Kalvelage
  2. Thanks for the alarming data. Perhaps this should only be an endulgent prize after, let’s say completing an iron man competition. Truly amazing that so much crud could be packed into an easily ingested beverage.

  3. Good info! Just today I treated myself to a “skinny” white chocolate mocha and was very surprised when I checked the calories on line when I got home. Those coffee drinks can be sneaky!

    Kristi Weeks


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