Here’s How To Healthfully Celebrate Ice Cream Month!

Ice cream, gelato, frozen yogurt… Whatever your jam may be, they are not only delicious but unfortunately for many of us those really yummy ice cream moments can be calorie HEAVY.

There are PLENTY of other ice cream alternatives, but it can get seriously confusing! It started with the frozen yogurt craze, and fat free ice cream in the 90’s. Now there are hundreds of options out there: portion controlled, low fat, sugar free, fat free, low carb... And it’s hard to tell what it all means! I am often asked about my favorite ice cream alternative, so here’s the official SCOOP. Read through to find out my favorite brand and flavors!

Portion controlled ice cream items: They are exactly what you think. They are a great option if you want your good old ice cream sandwich by your favorite company, but you just want a smaller version for calorie, carb and sugar control. Just know yourself. Are you able to have this in the house, or will the entire box be gone in one night? Single serving options are great, IF we eat them in single servings!

What you choose as your ice cream alternative largely depends on what your health goals are. If you LOVE ice cream and a substitute doesn’t taste the same to you, then you may not be satisfied by an alternative. Sometimes you really need to reflect when it comes to food. Ask yourself the following: “Do I really want a specific flavor and texture, or do I just want a cold yummy treat?” It often pays to just go for the real deal in portion control if it is what you truly want. 

If you eat an alternative but you REALLY wanted Ben & Jerry's, you might end up consuming much more of the ice cream alternative trying to satisfy the craving of what you really wanted to start with: traditional ice cream!

So, what’s the deal with alternative options such as Halo Top & Arctic Zero? Are they good for you? Ice cream isn’t kale, and I’m ok with that. We aren’t eating ice cream to optimize our health, so let’s leave those expectations at the door.

My opinion on Halo Top:  

Halo top provides a lower calorie option per serving and per pint of ice cream. There is a better protein to carb ratio in Halo Top when compared to traditional ice cream. It also has less sugar and has fiber. 

I suggest opting for the 240-calorie pint flavors such as Vanilla Bean, Lemon Cake, Mint Chip, or Pistachio (there are others). They are simpler and contain shorter ingredient lists than the higher calorie counterparts. 

Halo Top does contain sugar alcohols, and this can cause stomach upset for some people. Although, studies on the sugar alcohol erythritol (the kind in Halo Top), shows it may not cause the GI distress that other sugar alcohols do; but everyone is different. Regardless of whether you get a stomachache or not, I don’t suggest eating the entire pint, I would still suggest practicing portion control.

The use of sugar substitutes is controversial for many reasons. The main concern I have with them is constant use and overconsumption. I don’t believe most people consuming Halo Top ice cream are going to create a situation where they are over consuming and if they are they may find they are defeating the purpose of choosing this type of product to begin with.  

Some studies show that consuming large quantities of sugar substitutes daily, can lead to a disruption in your taste perception for sweet foods. It can increase your desire for sweets and you may consume more sweet foods looking to achieve the sweetness that was delivered by the non-calorie or low-calorie sugar alternative. Some studies suggest that this can lead to weight gain, poor blood sugar control, high insulin levels, higher body fat % among other concerns and disease states associated with these elevated health markers. However, PLEASE NOTE, this is regarding consumption of LARGE AMOUNTS of alternative sweeteners. The 5g of sugar alcohol in Halo Top, does not concern me. If you are looking to lose weight, I am not alarmed by this; it is a fine substitute in portion control.

What about Arctic Zero?  

Arctic Zero is another alternative frozen treat AND it is my personal favorite. It is ONLY 150 CALORIES for the entire pint, so in portion control you can satisfy your sweet tooth, enjoy something delish and do it with less than 50 calories!! WINNER WINNER!

Again, I don’t suggest sitting down for the entire pint in one sitting as this is only encouraging mindless eating… But I have finished a pint in two sittings. Guilty as charged! That’s 75 calories for a cup and I am fine with that. There is protein, fiber, controlled carbohydrate and NO fake sugars in this product. It has less calories per a pint when compared to Halo Top. It is lactose free, gluten free, free of sugar alcohols (different from Halo Top), Non-GMO ingredients, and really delicious.

I love the Chocolate Peanut Butter, and the Hint of Mint is my favorite flavor!  

This company has also started creating some new products that are higher in calories per a pint but I suggest sticking with the 150 calorie pints (there are several other flavors such as cake batter, vanilla maple and cookie shake among others)! The 150 calorie pints have a short ingredient list and are a mindful product that can serve as a great ice cream alternative.  

They suggest placing their pint in the microwave for 30 seconds and I couldn’t agree more… it brings the Arctic Zero to the perfect consistency and flavor!

Some dietitians might argue it is better to consume the 70 calories from some fresh berries and a few nuts. I agree with my colleagues, but let’s be real... Sometimes that just doesn’t cut it and when it comes to long-term maintenance we need to consider the mind as well.

Happy National Ice Cream Day!

(For some of my featured opinion on Halo Top Ice Cream, check out my input in this article in Everyday Health)