Search     |     Share     |     Blog     |     My Food Diary     |     Login
Healthy eating and exercise for life

What to Eat When You’re Eating at the Ice Cream Parlor

Your sweet tooth is screaming at you. The dessert aisle at the grocery store is calling your name. The ice cream shop is controlling the direction of your car. Whether chocolaty-brownie madness, creamy vanilla divinity or a refreshing fruity concoction, you have probably given in to the sweet temptation of ice cream at some point along the way. Does this mean your diet is worthless? Does this make you a failure? Absolutely not! Remember, there is room for any food even when trying to lose weight. The key is moderation and control. Making smart decisions can help you avoid wreaking havoc on healthy eating habits, while still allowing a sweet indulgence in your life.

Ice Cream, Yogurt, Sorbet, OH MY!
So many choices, so little time. Facing a large variety as well as temptation at the same time can be a dangerous thing. They may look similar, but not all frozen concoctions are created equal. Knowledge is power, especially when controlling tempting decisions and counting calories. Take a look at the different choices you can make, along with their calorie values (calories may vary depending on the type of ice cream/yogurt):

Regular Ice Cream (1 scoop) 300-400 calories
Reduced Fat Ice Cream (1 scoop) 270-300 calories
Non-fat Frozen Yogurt (1/2 cup) 100-110 calories
No Sugar Added, Non-fat Frozen Yogurt (1/2 cup) 80-90 calories
Sorbet – Non-dairy (1/2 cup) 90-100 calories

What to Order:

Although variety is usually the spice of life, don’t allow it to get you in trouble. There are definitely some options that are better for you. What’s even better is that with today’s food technology, the lower-calorie, lower-fat dessert choices can be tasty and satisfying. If creamy is your passion, choose a no sugar added, non-fat frozen yogurt. The taste will be satisfying whether it’s chocolate, vanilla, etc. If a refreshing taste is what you are after, non-dairy sorbets are also good options. These calorie counts are much lower than other options. There are a great many low-calorie choices offered in grocery stores as well as ice cream shops. Be calorie-wise and choose a lower calorie option. In addition, make sure you portion the frozen treat appropriately. Small sizes will still give your sweet tooth satisfaction without doubling the calories of larger sizes.

Would You Like a Cup or a Cone?
You hear this question every time you visit an ice cream shop. No big deal, right? You may have never considered how your dessert is served before, yet this decision involves more calories than you may realize. Check out the calorie differences below:

Waffle Cone 120-160 calories
Sugar Cone 60-130 calories
Cup (inedible) 0 calories

What to Order:

At this point, consider your dessert goal. You are craving ice cream and that’s ok. At the same time, don’t forget that you can remove excess calories from your diet in small ways. By choosing to eat your dessert out of a cup, you are still receiving the full benefit and taste of ice cream, while saving calories. Next time you hear the proverbial cup vs. cone question, you’ll know how to answer! (Keep in mind that calories will vary depending on the size of the actual cone.)

Toppings and Mix-ins
You’ve made it through the frozen jungle and managed to keep your healthy wits about you. That is until you reach the toppings display. Don’t fret, there are ways to liven up your dessert with toppings or mix-ins without adding too many calories. Read on for examples and what they can mean to your calorie counting:

Peanut Butter cup (1 large cup) 190 calories
Cookie Dough (1 oz) 180 calories
Chocolate pieces (1 oz) 170 calories
Candy Bar pieces (1 fun size bar) 150 calories
Walnuts (1 oz) 130 calories
Granola (1 oz) 120 calories
Gummi Candy (1 oz) 120 calories
Chocolate Cookies (2 crushed cookies) 120 calories
Fat-free Fudge (1 oz) 80 calories
Sprinkles – Rainbow or Chocolate (1 oz) 25 calories
Raspberries, strawberries, or pineapple (1 oz) 20-50 calories

What to Order:

Fresh fruit is a great addition to your frozen treat. With only 20 calories per ounce, you can add taste and texture to your dessert without a lot of additional calories. (However, some fruit toppings may have added sugar, which will increase calories.) These fruits are still lower than other options and are good additions to your dessert. You will also be adding fruit to your diet. If you are craving chocolate, opt for a serving of chocolate sprinkles or fat-free fudge topping. Both of those choices can help curb a chocolate fix while adding minimal calories to your daily total.

For days when the ice cream craving strikes, here is an example of how you can have your cake (or ice cream) and eat it too! As you can see, small changes can make a big difference.

Lighter Version Full Calorie Version
No Sugar Added,
Non-fat Frozen Yogurt (1/2 cup)
85 calories Regular Ice Cream
(1 scoop)
350 calories
Served in a cup 0 calories Served in a Waffle Cone 140 calories
Topped w/ Fat-free Fudge (1 oz.) 80 calories Topped w/ Chocolate Pieces (1 oz.) 170 calories
Total: 165 calories Total: 660 calories

Simply choosing the lighter dessert version can save almost 500 calories! So go ahead and allow yourself dessert without guilt. Making smarter low-calorie choices makes all the difference. If you do decide to indulge in high-calorie desserts once in awhile, that’s ok too, as long as it’s the exception and not the rule. When that happens, make plans to go for a long walk or take part in your favorite physical activity to burn off the extra calories. In the meantime, satisfy your sweet tooth with tasty low-calorie options.

* All calorie values are approximations based on the average value of different brands. Calorie counts will vary slightly depending upon the product.