As the weather warms up, many local dairy bars have opened for business. However, with swimsuit season just around the corner, people may want to consider some healthy alternatives and use common sense when ordering a frozen treat.
Tim Lacey and Deanna Guillen are clinical dietitians at Mercy Tiffin Hospital. They said going out for ice cream or a sundae is not a problem for people watching their weight or trying to live a healthy lifestyle, but the key is moderation.
Guillen said because most ice cream shops do not offer nutrition information, portion control is key, as is limiting the number of treats you have a week.
"Anything in moderation is probably going to be fine. It's when you're doing it every day or every other day, (it becomes a problem)," she said. "I'm probably never going to tell someone they can't have ice cream. I would probably die without ice cream, so I wouldn't do that. Just keep in mind moderation."
"I have talked with patients and some would even do a 'baby cone' as opposed to even a regular size cone because they get that sense that they get something, and they get that treat and get that joy without feeling regret," Lacey added.
Lacey said patrons looking for healthier choices should consider "simple items."
"A simple one-dip cone is a better choice than something big or fancy. And the same holds true with the sandwiches," he said. "A simple burger may not be a bad choice, but when you start adding onion rings to it and sauces, and more and more, the more (the calories) are going to add up."
When ordering a sandwich, the dietitians suggested options such as shredded chicken, pulled pork or BBQ beef rather than breaded or deep fried items. In addition, some local dairy bars offer fresh fruit or apple sauce, which are better sides than fries or chips.
Many local ice cream shops also offer some alternatives to regular ice cream, such as reduced fat or sugar-free ice cream. While these may provide an alternative to regular ice cream, portion control is still important as there may not be a benefit to the consumer from a calorie standpoint.
"You may be better off with a small (size) of the real thing and enjoy it," Guillen said.
Also, frozen yogurt may have little difference from regular ice cream in calorie or fat content and does not have the same nutritional benefits that come with soft yogurts.
Patrons also are encouraged to ask questions about what they are ordering and even see whether a substitution is possible.
"A personal philosophy is that there is nothing wrong with asking (for a substitution)," Lacey said. "If you have special dietary needs, there is no harm in asking if they can do something for you, or make a substitution for a grilled item or leave out a dollop of this or that."
People also can think of ways to incorporate exercise or an activity to a trip to the ice cream shop as a way to make up for the extra calories.
"If they live close enough, walk, which would be a great way to compensate," Lacey said. "Or make a way to pick it up and take it to the park."
"Or take your kids to the park and then use ice cream as a treat afterward," Guillen added.
In addition, Lacey said people need to remember ice cream is a treat, and not a replacement for a meal.
With temperatures on the rise, a frozen treat is not something you need to avoid, just be sure to keep in mind portion control and moderation, and consider some of the healthier alternatives being offered at the local dairy bar.