Archive for the tag - ice cream

Is Frozen Yogurt Bad for You?

017-frozen-yogurt-imageNow that I’m living in Los Angeles, it seems that there’s a frozen yogurt shop on almost every corner. The stores are bright, cheerful and the self-serve yogurt machines are labeled with health benefits like “low fat” or “fat free.” But what’s the scoop? Is frozen yogurt really as healthy as marketers would like you to believe?

Most frozen yogurt is a step up when compared to traditional ice cream. In fact, many ice cream varieties contain five times more fat and three times the amount of calories as frozen yogurt. But calories and fat are just part of the story. Most frozen yogurt is still loaded with sugar – and even sugar-free options can increase cravings for other sugary foods. A large Pinkberry frozen yogurt, for example, can contain nearly 100 grams of sugar. That’s as much sugar as two and a half cans of coke.

And that’s before you add the toppings. While fresh fruit is a wise choice, many of the toppings are loaded in added sugar, calories and unhealthy fat. From candy bars to sweet cereals to fudge and sauces, toppings can make your frozen yogurt snack go from bad to worse.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

  1. Add the toppings first. Before you select your frozen yogurt, load your cup up with fresh, nutrient-rich fruits. Then, use a few swirls of frozen yogurt to top your fruit cup. It’s an instant upgrade.
  2. Select a smaller cup. Because most frozen yogurt chains charge per ounce, the cups look more like vats. Select the smallest cup available (sometimes there are smaller cups not on display). With a smaller cup, less frozen yogurt will look like more.
  3. Be mindful of portions. Regardless of the cup size, a serving of frozen yogurt is about the size of a tennis ball. As you make your frozen yogurt selection, keep this in mind – even if it means not filling your cup to the top.

The bottom line: Just because frozen yogurt is a step up from traditional ice cream doesn’t mean it should be a daily indulgence. It’s a treat for special occasions. As with anything, moderation is key.

 

Ice Cream Vs. Gelato Vs. Sorbet: Which is Healthiest?

With the summer heat in full swing, many of us are turning to our favorite frozen treats for dessert. But when picking between ice cream, gelato or sorbet, you’ve probably wondered which is healthiest.

Ice Cream

Ice cream has a base that includes milk, cream, sugar and typically egg yolks. The churning process incorporates air and gives the finished product its light and creamy texture. Typical ice cream has a butterfat content of 14 – 25%. Unfortunately, the cream and sugar ensure high levels of unhealthy fats, calories and simple carbohydrates.

Gelato

Though also often made with milk, sugar and egg yolks, cream isn’t an ingredient in gelato. Moreover, gelato is processed in such a way that the finished product is much denser and more flavorful than ice cream. Because gelato doesn’t include cream, it can have lower levels of unhealthy fats when compared to traditional ice cream. Unlike ice cream, butterfat content is typically in the range of 5 – 9%. However, the nutrition information can vary greatly, and some gelato varieties may have higher amounts of added sugar.

But because gelato is so dense and flavorful, many consumers find that much smaller portions satisfy – and that’s definitely an important consideration.

Sorbet

Made with neither dairy nor eggs, sorbet contains just fruit juice/syrup and water. It’s churned like ice cream and thus has a similar texture. Most sorbets are naturally fat-free and usually have less calories. However, sorbet can have considerably higher amounts of sugar than either gelato or ice cream – and, because there is no dairy, it contains less calcium.

Conclusion

When you really get down to it, none of these frozen desserts can be classified as healthy. Sorry.

Ice cream is the clear nutritional loser. In my opinion, gelato and sorbet are quite comparable. Though gelato has more fat and calories, most people will find a much smaller portion size satisfying. Sorbet doesn’t have the fat and has fewer calories, but you’ll probably eat more – and gelato has less sugar.

But if you’re really looking for something cool and healthy, take a scoop of Greek yogurt and top it with some fresh fruit.

Nutrition Advice: Just Change One Thing.

Small changes add up to big results.

Big results are the sum total of many small changes that we make day after day.

A few years ago, my dad decided to eat an ice cream snack before bed each night. At a few hundred calories per portion, the sum total of this seemingly small change added up quickly. At nearly 10,000 calories per month, this extra dessert transformed my father’s body with extra fat – and all the accompanying health issues.

While my dad’s situation illustrates the transformative power of negative changes, the same is true with positive changes.

Earlier in the year, I realized that my staple vegetable was the potato. As many as 10 times per week, I’d bake frozen french fries to accompany my home cooked meals. I ate baked fries with sandwiches, burgers, chicken and just about anything and everything else.

Since I was in good shape, I didn’t think much of it – until I realized how few other vegetables I was consuming. So, I bought a steamer, some veggies – and then ditched the frozen fries. To be honest, I’ve never looked back; dramatically reducing my french fry consumption is the single greatest nutrition-related decision that I’ve made in the last five years. I feel healthier, my body is leaner and I’ve discovered a cornucopia of delicious and health flavors. The thing is, the change to my diet was so small. Almost unnoticeable.

I say all of this to inspire you to take a critical look at your own diet. While it might not be ice cream or french fries, there is undoubtedly ample opportunity for you to make a small but significant change in the way you eat. Maybe it’s the daily unhealthy breakfast drink from the local cafe (swap it with green tea), that muffin you always grab (a banana will do nicely instead) or the bag of chips that you usually eat with lunch (easily replaceable with carrot sticks).

Just make one small change in the way you eat and keep it up for several months. I know that you’ll be astounded by the results.

In the comments below, identify the one change that you can make in your diet… and with what you’ll replace it. I’ll send three random commentators a free copy of my Davey Wavey nutrition program just for sharing!

6 Absolute Worst Foods You Can Ever Eat!

Please promise me that you will never order the Aussie Cheese Fries at the Outback Steakhouse.

I scoured the globe to find the 5 absolute worst foods that you could ever put into your body based on nutritional content. The winners are:

  1. Soda. Soda is loaded with calories, steeped in sugar, overflowing with artificial ingredients – and without any nutritional benefit. Soda is the ultimate example of “empty calories.” Just how much sugar is in a can of soda? About 40 grams – the equivalent of TEN packets of sugar! Yet the average American drinks 51 gallons of soft drinks each year. If we could cut that number in half (and replace the 25.5 gallons of soda with water), it would add up to more than 30,000 calories (the equivalent of 8.7 pounds of fat). It would take 57 hours on the treadmill to have the same effect.
  2. French fries. I recently requested the nutrition information for the “Aussie Cheese Fries with Ranch Dressing” at the Outback Steakhouse. I was shocked; it contains 2,900 calories (much more than a day’s worth) and 182 grams of fat (65 grams is the typical recommendation for an entire day). Potatoes on their own are bad enough – they rate low on the gylcemic index. Their simple sugars are absorbed very quickly by the body. Once deep fried, their trans fat content goes through the roof. Avoid this gastrointestinal disaster at all costs! Opt for a salad, some rice – or pretty much anything else on the menu (and whatever you do, don’t smother them in cheese and ranch dressing).
  3. Chips. Traditional potato or corn chips face the same trans fat issues as french fries. Fortunately, the times are changing and some companies are making healthier alternatives – even baked chips. I do my best to substitute chips with carrot sticks; you get the same crunch but without the heart disease and clogged arteries.
  4. Mozzarella sticks. “Mozzarella sticks” is just another way of saying “fat fried in fat.” Cheese is full of fat. Deep fried, it’s even worse. Sure, there is some calcium in the cheese (and Mozzarella cheese is one of the lighter cheeses), but you’re much better off eating some spinach or yogurt to get the same calcium intake.
  5. Doughnuts. What’s worse than starting your day with a bowl full of sugary cereal? Reaching for a doughnut. High in trans fat and sugar, doughnuts are a true artery clogger devoid of nutritional benefit. Yet the average American consumes 35 doughnuts each year! Doughnuts are the one food that you will NEVER catch me eating – I just can’t justify it!
  6. Ice cream. I love ice cream, and it pains me to include it on this list. But did you know that a serving of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream can contain as much as 30 grams of fat? And who eats just one serving (half a cup)?! There is no saving grace for ice cream, save some calcium. Timing also comes into play – most of us eat ice cream just before bed, which is obviously the worst time possible!

Do you eat any of these foods? Or do you have any other foods to include on the list? Let me know in the comments!

Are You Eating Your Emotions?

When my boyfriend moved back to Canada last Sunday, I suffered some heartache. And without much of anything to distract me, I quickly found myself craving – and reaching for – chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. As I dug my spoon into the container, I quickly realized that I was feeding my feelings more than my stomach. It’s called in “emotional eating” – and I’m not alone; experts estimate that 75% of overeating is caused by emotional eating.

Emotional eating is the practice of consuming food (usually “comfort” or junk foods) in response to emotional feelings rather than hunger. Emotional eaters use eating as a main strategy to manage their emotions, both negative and positive. It’s dangerous and addictive.

But are you an emotional eater? Here are a few signs:

  1. You’re eating and you’re not hungry. Emotional eaters are filling an emotional void, not an empty stomach.
  2. You’re craving a specific food. When you’re hungry, any number of options will satisfy that hunger. When you’re an emotional eater, you desire one specific food.
  3. You have an intense urge to satisfy your craving instantly.
  4. You turn to foods like ice cream, chocolate or other unhealthy comfort foods.
  5. You know that you are full and you continue to eat.
  6. After you eat, you have feelings of guilt.

The first step in treating emotional eating is recognizing it. Once recognized, there are a few steps that all of us can take to nip this unhealthy habit in the butt:

  1. Replace the food with something else. Instead of reaching for Ben & Jerry’s, go for a walk or a jog. Call a friend. Do housework. Or even take a nap!
  2. If you find yourself unable to replace eating with another activity, at least replace the food type. Instead of eating pizza or junk food, try consuming celery or carrot sticks.
  3. Know that you don’t need to eliminate junk food from your diet entirely. Instead, recognize that junk food isn’t a healthy way to cope with emotions. You can occasionally indulge for the right reasons. I recommend the 80/20 rule as a general nutrition guideline – eat healthy 80% of the time.
  4. Instead of eating the entire cake, try taking just a few bites. Brian Wansink, PhD, director of the Food and Brand Lab at the University of Illinois, states: “Your memory of a food peaks after about four bites, so if you only have those bites, a week later you’ll recall it as just a good experience than if you polished off the whole thing.”

Eating your emotions is a habit that can be broken. It might take some extra help; if you’re overwhelmed by your food addiction, I strongly recommend that you seek professional help.

Are you an emotional eater? If so, what foods do you turn to?