'Healthy' Ice Cream Is Dumb. Long Live Real Ice Cream.

A dietitian defends his position.

man in focus, eating ice cream on a beautiful day with her friends
Ivan Pantic

I remember it clearly. It was the 1990s. I had to lose weight to play football and I went out with some friends to our local ice cream shop near my house.

Torn by the idea of not being with friends, but confident I “shouldn’t have” all those calories and fat in real ice cream (again, it was the 90s), I convinced my dad to stop at a store to buy me something to eat while I longingly watched my friends enjoy their freshly churned goodness.

Subscribe to Men's Health

So I plowed through an entire pint of a popular low-fat, artificially sweetened, artificially flavored pint of “frozen dessert.” My gut wretched the entire night. So much so that it’s stuck with me for decades.

Fast forward to today and now you can find every kind of “alternative” ice cream in the store you could possibly need thanks to nutrition fads and dreams of six-pack abs. Want high-protein? Need gluten-free? Looking for a lactose-free, sugar-free, almost-calorie-free frozen treat? The current avalanche of non-dairy ice creams is enough to give you a brain freeze.

This content is imported from {embed-name}. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

And also a health halo.

I’m here to say, that as a registered dietitian, barring any dairy or other allergies, you should be eating real ice cream.

couple eating real ice cream
Corey Jenkins

Real ice cream is so much better than the fake stuff. Fake ice creams are full of water, thickeners, and chemical sweeteners—and also strangely lacking in something else: satisfaction.

In terms of calorie counts, I would rather not even have people counting. The shorter the ingredients list—and the fewer “health” claims on the label—the better off you are.

Of course, it’s important to also monitor overall portions when it comes to ice cream, but it is also important to do the same with any food. Portions do matter, but the enjoyment—or what I’ll call conscious indulgence—of the highest-quality foods are so much more rewarding.

Fellow registered dietitian and cookbook author Dana White, agrees with me: “You don’t get that same experience in a pint full of imposter ingredients that set out (and fail) to do what ice cream does so simply. I’m always suggesting people seek out the highest-quality, real ingredients and that goes for real ice cream as well.”

smiling teenage friends eating ice cream and holding cones in hands
AleksandarGeorgiev

I’m so committed to the value of enjoying real ice cream that my wife and I surprise our kids with ice cream at bedtime at least once per summer. We’ll pick a night, put our kids to bed … wait about 10 minutes, so they’re not quite asleep, then run into their room and scream “PAJAMA RAID!” and take them out for ice cream.

Real ice cream, which always delivers.

Disclaimer: Chris Mohr was once a spokesperson forThe Dairy Council, but he is no longer.

This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
More From Nutrition