It's easy to reach for a Starbucks holiday drink to keep you warm as winter quickly approaches. What people don't realize is how unhealthy these drinks really are. They are referred to as empty calories. They provide no nutritional benefit, while being packed with tons of added fats and sugar

As a student, eating a (relatively) healthy diet will not only help you avoid the freshman 15, but will also help keep your GPA top notch. Food is vital for brain performance, and making your diet full of nutritious, whole foods will help improve both your memory and your concentration skills. 

I rounded up all of this years Starbucks holiday drinks and provided you with healthy snacks you can have for the equivalent amount of calories. Here you have it:

1. Chestnut Praline Latte OR Oatmeal and Blueberries

sweet, cereal, milk, blueberry, muesli, oatmeal, porridge, berry, yogurt, granola
Becky Hughes

A grande chestnut praline latte made with 2% milk and topped with whipped cream has 330 calories, 13g of fat, and 39g of sugar. Instead, you could have a cup of instant oatmeal topped with fresh blueberries. This alternative will provide you with fibre and antioxidants that will help keep you fuller for longer. As well, you won't have the same crash that you get from drinking caffeinated beverages. 

2. Caramel Brulée Latte OR Avocado Toast

vegetable, bread, cream, herb, toast, avocado
Danny Goldenberg

A grande caramel brulée latte made with 2% milk and topped with whip cream has 440 calories, 13g of fat and 54g of sugar. Alternatively, you could enjoy a slice of multigrain toast topped with avocado and sprinkled with pumpkin seeds. Avocado's are packed with the healthy fats that optimize your brain and heart function. Pumpkin seeds are also a great source of iron and potassium, and they add a nice crunch to your avo-toast. 

3. Eggnog Latte OR Multigrain Toast topped with Peanut Butter and Banana

cereal, coffee, nut
Katherine Carroll

A grande eggnog latte made with 2% milk and topped with whipped cream has 450 calories, 18g of fat and 52g of sugar. Swap this out for a slice of multigrain toast topped with the dynamic duo of PB and banana. Peanut butter is a high-protein, low-carb spread that helps curb cravings. Banana's are an easy way to incorporate potassium and fibre into your diet. This healthy snack will leave you feeling energized, motivated, and ready to take on finals. 

4. Gingerbread Latte OR Greek Yogurt and Granola

sweet, honey, muesli
Maggie Harriman

A grande gingerbread latte made with 2% milk and topped with whipped cream has 330 calories, 14g of fat, and 38g of sugar. Although this may be delicious, for the same amount of calories you could snack on a bowl of greek yogurt topped with granola, berries and chia seeds. The greek yogurt provides you with protein to keep you full while spending hours in the library. The chia seeds are a great source of omega-3 fats, which your brain will thank you for.

5. Peppermint Mocha OR Hummus with Crackers and Veggies

cream, ice, dairy product, milk, sweet
Kendra Valkema

A grande peppermint mocha made with 2% milk and topped with whipped cream has 440 calories, 15g of fat and 54g of sugar. Instead, snack on some hummus with veggies of your choice. Hummus is a great source of vegetarian protein that's low on the glycemic index, and therefore won't spike your blood sugar. Hummus is naturally gluten-free, so it is the perfect brain food for celiac's and gluten-free eaters. 

#SpoonTip: try making your own hummus with this easy recipe.

Swapping out these caffeinated beverages for these healthy snacks will benefit you this winter, especially as exam season gets closer. Your brain thrives on foods packed with vitamins and nutrients, not beverages made up of caffeine and refined sugars. Not only will your waistline thank you for making the switch, but so will your GPA.