I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! In my opinion, no one screams louder than me. Ice cream is one of my favorite foods for many reasons. For starters, when you walk down the aisle of any grocery store the variety of ice cream options are endless. There are brands featuring ice cream of all different sizes, flavors, and textures, and of course let’s not forget about all of the novelty treats. These sugary snacks don’t stop there, we’re constantly being tempted by the various shops and restaurants all around town. From chains likes Dairy Queen, to Cold Stone, to your mom and pop shops like the one I worked at during my high school summers. (Shout out to Mr.G’s Barn in Holland, Ohio!) These places specialize in all kinds of sundaes, flurries, or even basic twist cones.
However, when it comes to nutrition, ice cream is no super food. For starters most ice cream is contains saturated fat (the bad fat) and is high in sugar. The average ½ cup of simple vanilla ice cream is 137 calories, 7 grams of fat (4.5 of it is saturated), and 14 grams of sugar. Yikes! And that’s with no added candy bits, cookie pieces, or fudge swirls. Take a moment to think about that, when was the last time you ate just ½ a cup of ice cream? So how do we make the beloved cold and creamy treat part of a nutritious diet? Here are a few tips the next time you scoop yourself some ice cream:
- Portion size
Just like any food portion size is key to controlling calories. If you’re the type that struggles to have just one serving, try buying pint size (or smaller) ice cream cartons. Some of my favorites include brands like Enlighten, Arctic Zero and Halo Top. You can eat the whole thing for less than 300 calories. Another idea is to try novelty treats like frozen fruit bars or mini ice cream sandwiches. Make sure you limit yourself to one! When eating ice cream out choose the smallest size or share with a friend. You can even order a kiddie size to truly relive those childhood days. It sounds difficult, but when you think about it, sometimes a craving can be satisfied with just a few bites!
- All Natural Ingredients
Have you ever made homemade ice cream? The ingredients are pretty simple: milk, vanilla, condensed milk, and salt. Look for ice cream that has few and real food ingredients. Breyers ice cream is known for their all natural high-quality ingredients. I love having a scoop of their vanilla bean topped with fruit like berries or peaches.
- Sugar and Fat
There are many types of ice cream flavors out there that state they are fat free, half the fat, sugar free, or no sugar added. So which one is best? Personally I lean towards ice creams that are no added sugar. It still has sugar, but often times is significantly less than regular ice cream. Ice creams that are sugar free typically contain sugar alcohols which can often lead to GI (gastrointestinal) issues when consumed in large amounts. On the other hand, ice cream that is fat free is often is higher in added sugar. Remember fat and sugar are what give ice cream flavor and texture, but it is possible to find a good substitute.
When it comes to ice cream, or any dessert for that matter, try to make it a special occasion treat. This will make those occasions when you indulge that much more special.