When you think of summers as a kid, at least one memory probably includes licking a delicious, melting ice cream cone. Ice cream is a popular summer treat for families, but some parents worry it doesn’t fit into a healthy diet plan. Parents need not worry, though. Ice cream can be included as a summer treat if you follow the guidelines below.
How can you preserve the ice cream ritual while keeping nutrition in mind?
- Balance: The phrase “everything in moderation” is especially applicable to nutrition. Ice cream should be an occasional treat as opposed to a nightly routine. Refrain from keeping huge tubs of ice cream in the house, and instead buy small containers that can be divided among family members in proper portion sizes.
- Portion size: The serving size for most ice cream is ½ a cup. If you imagine a baseball is about 1 cup, then half a baseball is about the amount of ice cream that should be in a serving. One serving of regular ice cream can have 250 calories or more in it. Eating an extra 250 calories per day will result in a half a pound a week weight gain. This is two pounds per month or six pounds over the whole summer.
- Toppings: Toppings add fun and flavor, but also more calories and sugar. If you imagine working within a budget of about $250, most ½ cup servings of regular ice cream will take up this entire budget in calories (250 calories/serving). However, if you get a frozen yogurt or reduced fat ice cream, you may spend less than 200 calories for a serving, which allows room for a little fruit or nuts in the budget.
- Quality: In terms of nutritional quality, look at the labels of store bought ice creams. Choose ice creams that have whole foods ingredients, such as milk, eggs, sugar, strawberries etc. Steer away from those that have a long list of chemicals, preservatives, and dyes.
- Make your own (easily!): For a healthy and delicious ice cream, blend a bag of frozen mangoes or strawberries with a pint of nonfat Greek vanilla yogurt. Let the frozen fruit thaw for about 5-10 minutes before blending. Let the mixture blend for about 5 minutes, or until the consistency is like a smooth gelato. This is a kid-tested and approved recipe!
Enjoying summer means including treats like ice cream once in awhile for your kids. Following the above tips allows you and your kids to do just that. For more nutritional guidance for your family, click here to read 5 Healthy Summer Tips for Your Family. To schedule an appointment with one of North Shore Pediatric Therapy’s registered dietitians, call us at 847-474-9153.