Can Ice Cream Be Healthy?

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There’s no secret ice cream is loved by everyone.

Plus, ice cream has a way of bringing people sheer joy and comfort, whether it’s during the peak of summer or the dead of winter (don’t act like you haven’t had a few scoops of ice cream even when it was snowing outside).

Yeah, ice cream is the best. In fact, the only downside might be that it’s not exactly the healthiest food out there.

Or… is it?

What Does Ice Cream contain?

Ice cream has energy, or calories, which we need on a daily basis from a variety of food sources like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and yes, fun foods like ice cream. Depending on the type, it also has a bit of protein (around 2 grams per 1/2 cup) and some fat (about 7 grams per 1/2 cup), which helps slow digestion and keeps us satisfied. Ice cream also contains calcium, which promotes strong, healthy bones and small amounts of other vitamins and minerals like vitamin A and magnesium.

Still, we also know ice cream contains sugar, which, when consumed in large amounts, can have negative health effects.

Ice Cream Can Be Good For You

If you’re someone who secretly feels guilty for adding one more scoop to your ice cream bowl every now and then, don’t. Sure, all sweet treats should be eaten in moderation, but there’s no reason to think that ice cream is something you should only have once in a blue moon.

As you’re about to see, some ingredients in ice cream are proven to actually be good for your health!

We can start to change this by thinking about food in a neutral way — not as black and white but as gray. Focus on including a variety of foods in your diet and add foods that may have been on your “bad” list gradually and occasionally. If one of those foods is ice cream, take yourself out for a scoop on a relaxed afternoon and savor it for what it is — a cooling and delicious sweet treat — then enjoy the rest of your day while holding onto those positive feelings. This can be much easier said than done, and working with a non-diet dietitian can also be extremely helpful.

Ice Cream Should Be On the Neutral Playing Field

Despite some of the positives listed above, ice cream is often vilified for being “bad” or “unhealthy.” This black-and-white thinking diet culture wants you to associate with food — good or bad, healthy or unhealthy — does nothing but evoke feelings of shame or guilt around food. It can even lead people to associate morality with eating (i.e., thinking “I am bad because I ate ice cream”), which can lead to binge eating, yo-yo dieting and other negative impacts on your relationship with food and quality of life.

Yes, ice cream can be part of a healthy lifestyle. Eating ice cream in moderation, if you enjoy and desire it, indicates a healthy relationship with food and gives you a lot more brain space to focus on other important things in your life. I often tell clients the stress caused by avoiding certain foods, like ice cream, because they are perceived as “bad” is a lot more harmful in the short- and long-term.

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