Sugar Smart in the Summertime


Looking for something to cool down with over the warm summer days? Warmer weather tends to lead us to choose more ice cream, ice pops, juices, smoothies and iced drinks. And while these choices generally are okay to consume occasionally as part of a healthy balanced diet, with the recent extended warm spell, many of us are now in the habit of daily iced drinks, ice pops and the rest! However, if we choose these foods/drinks more often than we are active enough to burn off, we run the risk of unwanted weight gain and/or out of target blood glucose levels.


We are advised by The Department of Health to only consume small portions of high-sugar-high-fat foods, and at that to choose them infrequently (no more than once to twice weekly).  And, The World Health Organisation advises us to reduce our intake of ‘free’ (refined) sugars – essentially any sugar added to a product by consumer or manufacturer. So, having only a small amount and only occasionally is the consistent message. When purchasing for both adults and especially for children a good habit is to always choose the smallest size portion available – you might need to specify ‘smallest’ or ‘kids’ size – in our experience ‘regular’ size generally translates to ‘medium’.


Useful ideas:

  • At home, it is a good habit to keep fruit in the fridge, for one thing it lasts a whole lot longer.
  • Make a simple fruit salad (Chop a variety of fruits up, add the juice of an orange or some crushed pineapple to coat fruits like apple or pear and prevent them from browning).
  • Have grapes, berries or peeled/ segmented oranges ready to go in individual pots stored in the fridge for a quick snack.
  • Make ice pops – frozen diluted squash is a perfect ice lolly.
  • Puree and freeze fruit, and store as ice cubes – a couple of cubes melted into a glass of water makes for a light cooling drink.
  • Chop and freeze bananas (even better if they are over ripe) – when frozen, simply place in a blender with a splash of milk or natural yoghurt and pulse until smooth consistency for a speedy and delicious (AND nutritiousJ) banana ‘ice cream’. A teaspoon of peanut butter or sprinkle of cocoa powder into the mix works really well too.
  • A fan of iced coffee? Be mindful that many coffee shop style iced coffee brews have syrup, sweeteners and flavours added as standard. For a cooling coffee that’s a healthy option ask for an unsweetened iced espresso and add your own milk to taste.
  • We can often confuse thirst signals with hunger pangs – so it is a great habit to refill bottles of water or diluted no-added-sugar squash and keep those chilled too. That way there is always something cooling at hand to refresh both you and your family!


During the warm weather our Diabetes Ireland team took a look at seasonal products at some nearby juice bar outlets and cafes.  Much of the available nutritional information was available in a tabular form, with each product and size listed separately – making it straightforward to scroll down to check your favourite beverage and determine the content. Additional items such as whipped cream or marshmallows or syrup were all listed separately, so they must be added in to get a full picture!


Of those who have their nutrition information available to view online, have a look at the table below to see what we found…



Summertime Juice Bar and Coffee Shop Drinks

Food/ Drink Food label ‘total carbohydrate’ Food label

‘of which sugars’

Equivalent teaspoons of sugar  (1 tsp = 4g)
Any brand – iced espresso 0 0   0 teaspoons sugar
Insomnia OREO Icecap 54 42 10 teaspoons sugar
Insomnia Watermelon Granita 43 42 10 teaspoons sugar
Insomnia Mango & Cream Icecap 45 41 10 teaspoons sugar
Insomnia Garden Mint Lemonade 20 20   5 teaspoons sugar
Café NERO Sicilian Lemonade 20.5 20.1   5 teaspoons sugar
Café NERO Iced Latte 23.4 23.4   6 teaspoons sugar
Café NERO Salted Caramel and pistachio frappe crème 65.5 56.4 14 teaspoons sugar
Café NERO Raspberry and Italian Peach Booster 57.6 50.2 12.5 teaspoons sugar
Starbucks Mango Passionfruit Frappuccino (Tall / Regular) 36.2 35.1 8.5 teaspoons sugar
Starbucks Vanilla cream Frappuccino (Tall/ Regular made with skimmed milk) 30.4 29.4 7 teaspoons sugar
Starbucks Strawberries & Cream blended  Frappuccino (Tall/ Regular made with skimmed milk) 52 50.9 12.5 teaspoons sugar
Starbucks Iced Cappuccino (Tall/ Regular made with skimmed milk) 10.2 8.2 2 teaspoons of sugar
JUMP Juice bar (Small – 296ml) Hawaiian Hit Juice 39 26.3 6 teaspoons sugar
JUMP Juice bar (Small – 296ml) Mango Magic Smoothie 43.8 43.2 10.5 teaspoons sugar
JUMP Juice bar (Small – 296ml) Great Grain Gain Protein Smoothie 38.7 29.3 7 teaspoons sugar
JUMP Juice bar (Small – 296ml) Jump Smoothie 51.2 42.3 10.5 teaspoons sugar
COSTA Iced Chocolate Made with Skimmed Milk (Primo/ Small)  26.7 24.2 6 teaspoons sugar
COSTA Red Summer Berried Cooler Reduced Sugar (Primo/ Small) 41.1 41.4 10 teaspoons sugar
COSTA Coconut and Watermelon Cooler No Added Sugar (Primo/ Small) 21.1 20.2 5 teaspoons sugar
COSTA Belgian chocolate coffee Frostino Made with Skimmed Milk (Primo/ Small) 48 44 11 teaspoons sugar


For more information on reading food labels with diabetes see our helpful leaflet here.


Lastly, remember to make healthy choices as you go. You can still enjoy less high-sugar-high-fat foods/drinks occasionally, just so long as they are taken in moderation, and part of a varied balanced diet.


Nutrition information was gathered week commencing 23/7/2018 from company websites. Note some companies were excluded due to lack of current or complete nutrition information available.