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In Defense of Ice Cream

OK, so yesterday we were a little bit down on some of the sweet treats of summer. But we’re not total killjoys. Today we’re going to sing the praises of that good old-fashioned summer treat, ice cream.

We started thinking about ice cream the other day when we heard a pediatric dentist come and speak to a group of kids. She declared that ice cream was “thumbs down” and yogurt was “thumbs up.” We were left with a vision of kids downing Gogurt after Gogurt (10 grams of sugar in every 2.25-ounce tube) rather than having a “treat” of a simple scoop of vanilla ice cream (14 grams of sugar in a 4-ounce or half-cup serving). After hearing this, we’re starting to get the feeling that many parents are likely to say, “No, you can’t have ice cream, but you can have yogurt, fruit leather, teddy grahams, raisins, Honey Nut Cheerios or [insert your favorite sugary treat here] instead.”

Where’s the perspective? When you line up some of those others, is a scoop of ice cream really so bad? One thing we worry about is “treat creep,” in which the real treats are demonized, but the substitute treats seem to get worse and worse. For example, why would fruit leather (a sugary, chewy, tooth-destroying snack) be a more “appropriate” treat for a kid than a scoop of ice cream?

Let’s be clear about one thing: When we talk about ice cream, we’re not talking about, say, Cold Stone Creamery Peanut Butter ice cream (33 grams sugar, 28 grams fat per 170-gram serving according to Nutrition Data) topped with brownie bits and M&Ms. We’re not advocating that you start serving desserts instead of regular meals. But if your kids are looking for a sweet treat, a scoop of ice cream isn’t all that bad. You’ll get a little bit of protein and a bit of calcium with each serving, and if you choose lower-fat or low-sugar varieties, the nutritional picture will look even better.

Plus it is summertime, after all. Doesn’t a scoop of ice cream sound really, really good right now? Go on, have some. We say it’s OK.

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3 Responses to In Defense of Ice Cream

  1. Shannon June 23, 2010 at 6:16 pm #

    I love this! A big part of what I want to teach my kids is that treats in moderation aren’t bad. It’s why we’ve been experimenting a lot with desserts (homemade granola bars, sweet potato cupcakes that taste like pumpkin, etc). I think they’re less likely to crave junk if treats are available, we just try to pick the best of the treats. And yep, we buy ice cream too. :o)

  2. sruja June 23, 2010 at 6:35 pm #

    I love ice-creams ! My parents gave me ice-creams, chocolates and candies ! These days parents want children to eat everything healthy, which is mostly not very yummy 🙁 Its SAD. I want my daughter to enjoy just like I did in my childhood! So I welcome summer with ICE-CREAMS!

  3. danielle June 25, 2010 at 8:02 pm #

    And if you make it at home, it’s even better (tasting and nutritionally).

    We use less than 1/4 cup of sugar per quart and add in fruit (frozen berries simmered for about 30-45 minutes) for more flavor. Delicious!

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