Happy Belated Canada Day! A time to pay tribute to our country's contributions to mankind: insulin, zippers, the snowblower (go figure). And let's not forget our culinary contributions. Poutine, instant mashed potatoes, and Hawaiian pizza which oddly originates from Chatham, ON. This year I thought I'd celebrate the beacon of every Canadian road trip and morning commute: Tim Horton's.
Timmie's has seen rough times lately. This year it slipped from 4th to 50th place in an annual brand reputation survey. Their drop in consumer approval was beat only by Sears, which is baaad news. Things started going south in 2014 when Burger King merged with Tim Horton's and the new ownership focused on reducing costs, at the expense of product quality. Ontario franchisees were surrounded with bad press for cutting back employee benefits in response to the new minimum wage (14$/hr). The emergence of McCafes is no help either.
If you're trying to make lifestyle changes, limiting fast food is a great place to start. Not only will it save you calories, fat and sodium, but also money and lots of unnecessary packaging. Sadly if we're being realistic, Tim Horton's has 4748 Canadian locations and serves 8 out of 10 cups of coffee in the country. You can't escape it. And we will all end up there from time to time. Those who travel for work often feel like they have no other option.
Instead of swearing off of fast food forever, cutting back on visits and making healthier choices when you're there can make a big difference. A healthy lifestyle doesn't have any forbidden foods.
*All my comparisons below are for medium sized drinks*
A Dietitian's Top 5 Picks
1. Breakfast: Greek Yogurt & Berries
This is the most nutrient dense breakfast item by far. At only 210 calories I would recommend including another one or two items in your breakfast to make it a satisfying meal. If you're stuck at Timmie's, an egg and cheese breakfast sandwich on an English muffin (no meat) will get you an additional 271 calories, 14g of protein, and 20% of your daily iron and calcium. This adds up to about 500 calories, a fairly standard sized meal.
2. Hot Drink: Black Coffee or Tea
Zero calories, zero everything! Except caffeine. Stick to 4 cups a day max to avoid heart disease, osteoporosis and cancer. Read more about the health effects of coffee here.
3. Cold Drink: Iced Coffee with Milk
If you can live without the sweetness this is the lowest calorie cold beverage. I'm not one for cutting calories at every corner at the cost of satiety, but beverages are generally empty calories that don't keep you full. For more sweetness have it made with chocolate milk, with only 10 extra calories and 3g of sugar.
Canadians eat more doughnuts per capita than any other country.
4. Donuts: Chocolate/Honey/Maple Dip (Yeast Donuts)
Yeast donuts are always lower calorie than cake donuts like sour cream glazed (about 200 calories vs. 300 calories). But when you're ordering a donut it's not because you want a nutritious snack. Personally, I go ahead and order the one I want without thinking about its nutritional value.
5. Timbits: Honey Dip
5 Most Calorie-Dense Orders
1. Breakfast: Sausage Bagel BELT (plain bagel)
It certainly has lots of protein and iron, but not in the greatest package. Pro tip. If you are gonna order this, switching from sausage to bacon will save you some calories and fat. The same goes for the Sausage Breakfast Sandwich which is up there too. While it's a reasonable choice for larger men or athletes with high calorie needs, this is pretty heavy for the average person.
2. French Vanilla Cappuccino or Hot Chocolate
Unfortunately these drinks can't be customized. So if you want to indulge best to order a small!
3. Mocha Iced Capp
If you ask for your Iced Capp to be made with milk instead of cream, the calorie difference is 47 vs 184, and fat is reduced from 15g to 2g. Chocolate milk will also cut your calories in half with only one extra teaspoon of sugar. The Mocha Iced Capp can't be customized on their website, but there are plenty of "off-menu" options so give it a shot!
4. Donuts: Honey Cruller
Of course my favourite donut is the most decadent. Other higher calorie donuts are anything cake based: double chocolate, sour cream glazed, etc etc. You know, all the best ones!
5. Timbits: Sour Cream Glazed
Just like donuts, cake based is the most calorie dense. This one is 90 calories, a lot for a single bite. To cut back, stick to yeast based or order a small amount. I am not above ordering a single Timbit, as evidenced below.
Take Home Points
Have your drinks made with Milk instead of Cream
Order a Small
Make your breakfast or sandwich vegetarian