Woman Loses Over 80 Pounds Eating Starbucks (Only) for Two Years!

When NBC called and asked me to be interviewed for a story about a woman who lost a bunch of weight on Starbucks, I had to say “yes”.

People who know me, know that I support health and NOT diets — as every one of them is an utter failure (you are not). Lifestyle habits is what works… and accepting that there is diversity in our sizes and shapes. Health is what is most important and your habits have a major influence over your health.

We can all be healthy and it does not mean we will all be thin. That’s basic genetics and size diversity. You see it all the time when  you look around the real world — maybe not what you see in magazines or with celebrities. With this week being focused on “Weight Stigma Awareness” it seems appropriate that I help raise awareness about our society’s disconnect between weight and health. Just this week there was a fabulous article in New York Times about the research on thinness indicating “sickness” not health – whoopsie :)

Back to the Starbucks story. So this lady eats NOTHING but Starbucks for two years. She says knowing the calories helps her. I don’t argue with that. If every meal she had at Starbucks was 1,000 calories each she would not lose weight after all. I support 100% putting calories on restaurant menus to help people make choices.

For her, doing the “Starbucks diet” provided structure. She didn’t need to have ANY food in the house. But my argument is… OK, first of all, I love a good Starbucks like you do. But three meals a day for 2 years?!? Who can honestly stick to that and not feel deprived. I would get bored. Most people would.
That’s a big reason why this “plan” would not work for most people.

What do you think is going to happen if she ever stopped her Starbucks diet? If she tried operating in the real world, she is likely going to struggle. It doesn’t take many lifestyle skills to follow “eat this, that, and the other thing three times a day”. Real lifestyle changes come with building your skills — learning what influences your choices, operating within a structure of intuitive eating — letting your body’s hunger signal guide decisions to eat, and even improving shopping/cooking skills so you LOVE to eat healthy, but don’t freak out when you don’t eat so healthy.

What about truly meeting her nutrition needs? It’s one thing for the calories to be low, but did she really get enough veggies or fruits for the day? Isn’t it nice to have antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to help you feel energized and prevent diseases?  What about her fiber or calcium? No way she is getting enough of these nutrients. Not only that, but some of those sandwiches she does for lunch and dinner have 1000 mg of sodium each! Even on her low calories, her salt would be high. Not so good for health.

That’s my “beef” with this and many other diets. The focus and goals are on weight loss. It is possible to lose weight as a side effect of improvements to your health and behaviors. Think about food as nourishment, not punishment. It can be very empowering to learn to ask “What do I need to nourish myself?” and learn to make choices that are good for you… and FINALLY be okay with the fact they may not all be perfect or even healthy.

My post and interview on NBC is not about bashing this woman’s changes. She had to have had some positive epiphanies through her experience. I just want her and everyone else to realize that what you are looking for when you look to diets is structure and a “promise” that what you are trying will work. Starbucks exclusively for two years… and counting? No thanks.

Curious what you all think about the Starbucks diet story.

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5 Responses

  1. I’m curious to exactly what she ate at Starbucks. I assume, over two years, you’d work your way through their small menu of offerings several times over. I’s like to know if she had the same items over and over, or if she mixed it up daily. Starbucks does post the calorie content of their foods (which I am all for), but it seems to me that not very many of their food items are low in calories.

    Lastly, besides the basket of bananas at the register and perhaps a small pre-packaged fruit salad, there isn’t a lot of fresh food available at Starbucks. So while she may indeed have lost weight, I have to assume she’s dealing with – at the very least – some element of nutritional deficiency after two years of lack. Just my 2 cents. Very interesting though! Thanks for posting!

    • I think the news story said she would do oatmeal at bfast without the fruit and nuts, for lunch a salad or a panini at dinner.

      I think she would rather be bored and undernourished with fruits and veggies than have to deal with whatever was causing her imbalanced eating in the first place.

      I would love to see her add in more of her own real foods and build new skills.

      • Yes, and I would like to check back in with her in 3, 6 and 12 months’ time to see if she’s successfully integrated back into the “real world”…

  2. I think it would be boring and expensive!

    I’m reading Intuitive Eating after you recommended it in one of your posts. Wonderful book! It’s such a fresh and positive approach in this diet-skinny-crazy world. I’m excited about gaining back a normal attitude towards food and exercise after years of diets. Even when I’m not “on” a diet, I always have a dieting mentality. I want to change not only for myself, but also so that I can model a healthy lifestyle and self-image for my 4-year old daughter. Thanks for the recommendation, Rebecca. I enjoy your blog!

  3. I feel that this diet is very boring as well and does not include the proper nutrients needed to complete a healthy diet. If the body is used to the same thing over and over again, wouldn’t it be difficult to change to a different diet? wouldn’t your body respond differently?

    I also have a blog that contains similar information about nutrition and is mainly focused on the college lifestyle and how we can make college students more aware of what they consume. It is in its beginning stages but if you want to learn more, check it out at http://onamissionfornutrition.wordpress.com/

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