How to Include Ice Cream As Part of a Healthy Diet

Three Parts:Choosing healthier ingredientsMaking your own ice creamAdjusting the portions

While it is true that ice cream may have some nutritional value, especially if it is homemade from fresh ingredients, or a commercial brand that uses quality ingredients, consuming large scoops on a daily basis isn't very healthy. However, it is possible to consume ice cream moderately, as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Part 1
Choosing healthier ingredients

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    Choose brands that have ingredients that you recognize as food. If the ingredient list reads like a chemistry lab experiment, you may want to look for a product that contains more real food and fewer chemicals. If this is not always possible, at least be aware of the limitations of these “unnatural” foods with regard to your health, and use them consciously and sparingly.
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    Keep it simple. Generally, the simpler versions of a food will contain fewer additives. For example, if you like to go out for ice cream, a dish of vanilla ice cream will have fewer additives than when it is enhanced with toppings and flavorings. The same applies if you buy ice cream at the grocery store. You will need to read the label to be sure, but generally look for plain flavors such as vanilla in a good quality brand that uses basic ingredients and add your own high quality toppings at home.
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    Skip low-fat, fat-free and sugar-free versions. These products are adulterated with chemicals to make up for the loss of flavor and texture.

Part 2
Making your own ice cream

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    Make your own ice cream with healthier ingredients. In the “olden days,” making ice cream at home was an occasion. You can recapture the fun by breaking out the hand crank freezer or the more modern electric or pre-frozen canister versions. You will find that ice cream you make yourself tastes better and because it requires time and planning, it will not be something you do every day, making it unlikely that you will overdo.
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    Make ice cream from bananas. This is a much better option than binging on fat-filled store bought ice-cream.
    • Cut 2 bananas into slices and freeze until completely frozen (about 2-3 hours; it's easiest if you put the slices in the freezer the night before you plan on making it).
    • Put the frozen banana slices in a blender.
    • Add 2 tablespoons (if wished, you can vary this amount based on how thick you want the ice cream) skim milk, soy milk, or any milk of your choice. (If you want a little more flavor, add peanut butter, or cocoa powder––just remember you are adding on the calories.)
    • Blend until it turns to ice-cream consistency. Serve immediately.

Part 3
Adjusting the portions

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    Make sure you know about portion size. The serving size established by the FDA for ice cream is ½ cup. You need to be aware that this amount (and only this amount)will supply the calories, fat, etc. that are listed on the label. Just once, take a half-cup measure and see what a serving really looks like in your bowl.
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    Plan ahead. Going out for ice cream is often part of summer festivities with family and friends. You can be part of the fun and still be healthy, if you decide ahead of time what you will have. Many ice cream stands have a web page that will tell you what is in their products, but failing that, you know you are pretty safe if you keep it simple by choosing a small vanilla cone or a scoop of chocolate or strawberry ice cream in a dish. In this way, you can satisfy your desire to stay healthy without missing out on a great tradition!


  • If you are one of those people who can't resist overeating when you have ice cream in the house, then don't have it in the house. Limit yourself to going out for ice cream, occasionally, and then it won't be calling you from the freezer or replacing the nutritious foods you need in your healthy diet. You may also find that if you don't make it a "forbidden food," you will be able to eat it in moderation and without guilt.
  • Don't overdo.

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Ice Cream and Frozen Desserts | Maintaining Diets