By: Rick Bellanti – June, 2021
Last year at this time I wrote about surviving the summer barbeque season.
This time I want to focus on the delicious summer treat: Ice Cream!
Who doesn’t like ice cream?
I mean, it’s not just for summer, and of course it is available all year long (for us ice cream diehards). It’s this time of year with these hot, sunny summer days that have us craving this delicious treat even more. Way back a long time ago, there was an ice cream business that used to say we have 31 flavors to choose from. Nowadays there has to be over 100 ice cream flavors to choose from and trust me, I’ve tried them all.
Did you know that the first ice cream shop in America opened in New York City in 1776. American colonists were the first to use the term ice cream. The name came from the phrase iced cream, the name was later abbreviated to “ice cream,” the name of which we call it today.
Ice cream seems simple enough; it is customarily made with some type of dairy like milk or cream as a base and is then flavored with a sweetener such as sugar and a spice such as chocolate or vanilla, or added fruit such as strawberries, bananas, or pineapples. Fast forward to the 21st century and now you can find cookie dough, brownies, even birthday cake ice cream (the flavors are endless). And we haven’t even touched the subject of toppings.
Let’s talk about healthy choices now.
It can be tricky to stay on your wellness track while still having your favorite summer ice cream treat, but some ice creams contain more than 300 calories per half-cup serving.
The good news is many varieties are now available that will please your taste buds for a lot less calories and fat (and sugar). There is even KETO ice cream for those following a KETO type programs.
Ice cream is a fun summer treat but try to have it in moderation and be mindful of the fat and calories in ice cream when you indulge. We must keep portion size in mind, you never want to eat it right out of the container; that would be a big mistake.
When visiting your favorite local ice cream shop always get a size whether it is kiddie, small, medium, or large, at least you will know the portion you are eating and not be eating mindlessly. I always find that buying the boxes of individual ice creams such as ice cream sandwiches, popsicles, sundae cups etc. are best. They are already portioned out for you and the nutrition information is right on the side of the packaging for you.
Be careful of claims of No Sugar Added, Sugar Free, or Reduced Sugar.
Just because a product has a low sugar content claim doesn’t mean it’s good for you. This can fool health-conscious shoppers into thinking it’s a better choice. Products with low sugar claims often contain a sugar substitute or low-calorie sweetener. This is how they can contain less sugars but maintain the sweetness expected in the food or drink. We all know that substitute sweeteners are not necessarily healthy for you. Look for 100% Stevia as a sweetener if you are looking for an artificial healthier option to sugar.
Items advertised as sugar free could mean, it contains less the 0.5 grams of sugars, both natural and added. Items advertised as No Sugar Added, no ingredients containing sugar was added during processing or packaging. And items advertised as Reduced Sugar, has at least 25% less sugars than the regular version of the product.
Be wary of Fat-Free ice creams as well, as the trouble with fat-free anything also means taste free, and to make up for the lack of taste they will load in other ingredients to make up the taste, especially sugar, flour, other thickeners, and salt. All of which can not only add calories but up the sugar and carbohydrate content as well. Read your labels carefully if you really are on a diet and fitness program and need to record all your food intake or as a diabetic keeping track of your sugars.
Don’t forget, summer get togethers with friends and family are not just about eating! Have some fun, throw a ball around with the kids, play with the dog or go for a swim. Any activity will vamp up your metabolism and burn some of those calories you are consuming and if you are being active. Then you can eat your ice cream guilt free, don’t forget moderation is the key.
The idea is to go out enjoy the summer weather and be with friends and family; you do not want to deprive yourself of the fun company and food you love. Remember this is a lifelong commitment and a few treats along the way are not going to reverse all your hard work. A healthy lifestyle is about making good healthy choices. Stay hydrated, watch your portions, think fresh fruits, veggies, and delicious ice cream! Enjoy your summer!
Rick Bellanti is a wellness columnist and is on a journey himself to lose 240lbs and has lost 160 lbs. since the start of 2015. If you have any questions or comments, please post them to his Getting Healthy with Rick Bellanti Facebook page and once a month he will address a few of the topics here. ◊