To celebrate National Ice Cream Month this July, you won’t be alone if you grab a spoon and enjoy a few scoops. In fact, the average person eats about 23 gallons of ice cream per year, according to the International Dairy Foods Association.
I don’t have to remind anyone that regular ice cream is a sugar- and fat-rich combo that’s been shown in studies to light up pleasure centers in the brain. That’s why so many of us find that sweet, creamy goodness utterly irresistible.
So go ahead and indulge this summer. Just follow these tips from the nutrition pros so you won’t put your healthy habits on the deep freeze.
Look for Light Ice Cream
According to nutrient content values from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, premium ice-cream can pack in more than 250 calories and 11 teaspoons of sugar per half-cup serving. “Light,” by definition, however, will have at least half the fat and/or one-third fewer calories compared to regular ice cream.
Try This Smooth Move
Pour leftover fruit smoothies or juice from canned fruit (look for those packed in natural juices) into ice pop molds, suggests Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD, founder of RealMomNutriton.com and author of “The 101 Healthiest Foods for Kids.” These treats have simple ingredients, with no artificial flavors or colors. I also put our favorite organic whole chocolate milk into (food-grade) ice cube and pop molds. The ice cubes can be later whirled into smoothies or dunked into white milk for a fun treat.
Order Kid-Sized Cones
Since most ice cream provides about 150 to 200 calories per half-cup serving, the most important factor is portion control, which is easier said than done. When I’m at an cream shop, I opt for the kiddy cone for a half-cup serving. Always get your scoop in a bowl or wafer cone as opposed to a high-calorie, high-sugar waffle cone.
Fix Your Fro-Yo
Fro-yo shops are popping up everywhere and appeal to many diet-conscious consumers who believe (often mistakenly) that the creamy treat is healthier than ice cream. Any frozen dessert that is whipped, like soft serve or slow-churned, has fewer calories as it’s less dense.
Pick Produce-Packed Pops
If you want the lowest-calorie frozen treat, opt for frozen veggie and/or fruit pops. The best ones are made with lots of real fruit and vegetable juice and have no added sugars. Some of my fave fruit and veggie pops: Outshine, 365 Brand at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.
Get the Skinniest Ice Cream Sandwiches
If you scream for ice cream sandwiches, you’re not alone. Ice cream sandwiches are the most popular frozen novelty, according to the IDFA. And good news: Many are a better bet than other frozen options because they’re portion-controlled.