What is the scoop of ice cream? ~ YOUR HEALTH with RICK BELLANTI

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By: Rick Bellanti – June 2021

Last year around this time, I wrote about surviving the summer barbecue 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’s available year round (for us ice cream diehards). It’s that time of year with those hot, sunny summer days that we crave this delicious treat even more. A long time ago there was an ice cream company that said we had 31 flavors to choose from. These days there must be over 100 flavors of ice cream to choose from and trust me, I’ve tried them all.

Did you know that America’s first ice cream store opened in New York City in 1776. American settlers were the first to use the term ice cream. The name comes from the phrase ice cream, the name was later abbreviated to “ice cream,” which we call it today.

The ice cream looks pretty straightforward; it is usually made with some type of dairy product like milk or cream as a base and is then flavored with a sweetener like sugar and a spice like chocolate or vanilla, or added fruits like 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 on the subject of toppings.

Now let’s talk about healthy choices.

It can be difficult to stay on track while still holding onto your favorite summer ice cream, but some ice creams contain over 300 calories per half-cup serving.

The good news is that there are plenty of varieties now available that will delight your taste buds for a lot less calories and fat (and sugar). There are even KETO ice creams for those following a KETO type program.

Ice cream is a fun summer treat, but try to eat it in moderation and watch out for the fat and calories in the ice cream when you feast. We need to keep portion sizes in mind, you never want to eat them straight out of the container; that would be a big mistake.

When you visit your favorite local ice cream shop always get a size, whether it’s kid, small, medium or large, at least you will know the portion you are eating and not mindlessly eating. I always find it better to buy individual ice cream boxes such as ice cream sandwiches, popsicles, sundae sundaes, etc. They are already portioned for you and the nutritional information can be found on the side of the package for you.
Watch out for claims of no added sugar, no sugar, or reduced sugar.

Just because a product has a low sugar claim doesn’t mean it’s good for you. This can trick health-conscious buyers into believing it’s a better choice. Low-sugar products often contain a sugar substitute or low-calorie sweetener. This is how they can contain less sugar but retain the expected sweetness in food or drink. We all know that alternative sweeteners aren’t necessarily healthy for you. Look for 100% Stevia as a sweetener if you’re looking for a healthier, artificial sugar option.

Items advertised as sugar free could mean they contain less than 0.5 grams of sugars, both natural and added. Items advertised as no added sugar, no ingredients containing sugar have been added during processing or packaging. And items advertised as reduced in sugar contain at least 25% less sugars than the regular version of the product.

Also beware of fat-free ice cream as the problem with everything fat-free also means tasteless, and to make up for the lack of taste they will load up other ingredients to complement the taste, especially sugar, flour, other thickeners and salt. All of this can not only add calories, but also increase sugar and carbohydrate content. Read your labels carefully if you are truly on a diet and fitness program and need to record all of your food intake or, as a diabetic, monitor your blood sugar.

Remember, summer get-togethers with friends and family aren’t just about eating! Have fun, throw a ball with the kids, play with the dog or go swimming. Any activity will boost your metabolism and burn some of the calories you eat and if you are active. Then you can eat your ice cream without the guilt, remember that moderation is key.

The idea is to go out and enjoy the good weather and be with family or friends; you don’t want to deprive yourself of the fun company and the food you love. Remember, this is a lifelong commitment and a few treats along the way won’t undo all your hard work. A healthy lifestyle is about making good, healthy choices. Stay hydrated, watch your portions, think about fresh fruits, vegetables and delicious ice cream! Enjoy your summer!

Rick Bellanti is a wellness columnist and is himself losing 240 pounds and has lost 160 pounds. since early 2015. If you have any questions or comments, please post them on his Getting Healthy with Rick Bellanti Facebook page and once a month he will cover some of the topics here. â—Š

Patriot Valley

The patriot of the valley is a free monthly print newspaper serving northern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire. The print edition is published on the 10th of each month and is distributed in 51 towns and villages.

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