Chances are that when you visit your favourite cafe, you are thinking that it is a much healthier option than grabbing a fast food meal deal from a local drive through.

But the truth is while there may be some "healthy" cafe options, when it comes to calories, fats and sugars — there are plenty to be found in some of our favourite cafe menu items.

A Big Mac and fries contains 900 calories and almost 50g of fat — way too much for a single meal. But what's really shocking is your cafe breakfast or jumbo toasted sandwich might actually be worse.

With the average adult needing just 1200-1600 calories each day, calorie control is important and with the most popular cafe menu choices containing 600-800 calories per serve, it is easy to overdo things when you pick up a snack with your coffee, or top in to pick up a quick lunch on the run. Here are some of the worst offenders.


Ham and cheese croissant

One of the most energy dense foods we consume is pastry and when this is teamed with butter, ham and cheese your 'light' breakfast on the run becomes a complete calorie bomb. With more than 500 calories and 30g of fat in a single serve it is not much better than a serve of fish and chips which clocks in at 600 calories and 36g of fat.

Acai bowl

A popular breakfast item, with its fresh fruit and grains it is no wonder that this visually appealing breakfast would be considered healthy. When you consider though that the average acai bowl contains 60-80g of sugars thanks to the mix of juice and concentrated fruit syrup, an acai is not much better than a hot fudge sundae and its 60 plus grams of sugars.

Eggs benedict

Eggs bendict is a classic favourite on many cafes' breakfast menus. Photo / Getty Images
Eggs bendict is a classic favourite on many cafes' breakfast menus. Photo / Getty Images

A Sunday morning favourite — a standard serve of eggs Bene and a side of bacon contains more than 1300 calories and 100g of fat in a single serve thanks to the creamy sauce and fat used in cooking. If you consider that a cheeseburger and fries contains half as much fat and fewer calories, it is difficult to argue that the cafe breakfast is a better option nutritionally.

Chicken caesar salad

The word salad lures us in and indeed if you make a salad at home for yourself and use lighter dressings, lean protein and small amounts of cheese and creamy sauces you can make a healthy version of a Caesar salad. The mix of high fat ingredients mean that the average Caesar salad contains at least 30g of fat — more than that of a plain steak sandwich or hamburger and salad.

Banana bread

One of the most popular menu items at the local cafe, banana bread seems like a relatively innocent add on to accompany your coffee order, yet really it should be called banana cake with the average slice slab sold in cafes containing more calories than a meal (500-600cal) thanks to the mix of butter or oil, white flour and sugar, at least 20g of sugars and up to 30g of fat. Or pretty similar to that in a couple of scoops of your favourite decadent ice-cream.

Chicken and avo wrap

If you are looking for a yummy lunch order at the local cafe you can be sure to find a schnitty sandwich or wrap on the menu. With avo, cheese and mayo there are few lunches as tasty as a good old chicken schnitzel sandwich. Unfortunately, it is the mix of fried meat and the high fat mix of cheese, sauce and avo that can mean your healthy chicken sandwich can contain more than 800 calories and 50g of fat or the equivalent of a couple of slices of thick pizza.


If you made a smoothie at home with a little milk, yoghurt and fresh fruit, your smoothie would contain a respectable 200-300 calories and 20-30g of sugars. On the other hand, a large acai or mango smoothie which combines honey, milk, yoghurt and fruit can give as much as 60-80g of sugars or 12-16 teaspoons per serve — more than a flavoured milkshake, fruit juice or even a small soft drink.

• Susie Burrell is a dietitian. Follow her on Twitter @SusieBDiet