Friday, July 13, 2012

My Plan for a Healthy National Ice Cream Month

Ice cream with Mediterranean flair.
July is National Ice Cream Month. Yet, many are fearful that if they indulge in the frosty confection, it will have negative effects on their health. Sugar and fat-laden ice cream has well-known side effects, such as temporary sugar high, weight gain and bloating. However, I believe there is a healthy way to celebrate National Ice Cream Month. And it doesn’t include substituting the fat free or sugar free versions of the summertime treat.

Basically, my plan is to cross scientifically proven healthy habits with ice cream consumption. We all know exactly what it takes to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle: exercise regularly, drink plenty of water, keep a food journal and maintain a healthy diet. For our purposes, we're going to focus on the Mediterranean diet because everyone knows it’s one of the healthier diets and I am of Italian descent, so I’ve got decades of experience with it.

EXERCISE: Rather than drive to the ice cream shop, walk. Gather your friends and neighbors and head out on foot. Work up a sweat. Every step you take is pre-burning calories you get to consume once you get your hands on that precious scoop of frozen deliciousness. The great part of this part of the plan is exercise needs to be a regular part of your routine, so I suggest walking to the ice cream shop at least three times a week.

DRINK WATER: I always wondered why ice cream shops have water fountains or coolers, offering up free water. I assumed it was because ice cream makes you thirsty or water has a neutralizing effect on brain freeze. However, now that I’ve joined the ‘drink at least half a gallon of water a day’ bandwagon, I have come to the conclusion that an extra serving of water serves to reduce the likelihood of experiencing the side effects of ice cream.

WRITE IT DOWN: Health and weight loss articles continue to point to the correlation between recording everything you eat in a journal and improved health and weight loss. As a writer, of course I believe in the power of the pen. It just makes sense that writing down, “one scoop of double-fudge delight with rainbow sprinkles, light whipped cream and a cherry,” in a food journal will help counteract the detrimental health effects of eating a high-fat, high-calorie dessert.

MEDITERRANEAN DIET: Eating healthy is key to maintaining a healthy body weight and reducing medical problems. Ice cream doesn’t quite fit on the list healthy food choices. And unless it is made with goat milk, it isn’t exactly Mediterranean. However, in the spirit of National Ice Cream Month, I developed a topping, derived from the Mediterranean diet, that adds antioxidants, vitamins and iron. Basically, by using my special topping, you can sprinkle away any guilt you may be harboring over having to write down “ice cream sundae with the works” in your food journal. My topping is simple: a mixture of dried oregano, basil and parsley. I grow and dry my herbs, so I have plenty of  topping mixture to for July’s ice cream celebrations. For those of you who aren’t obsessed with hanging bunches of herbs held together with rubber bands all around your kitchen, pantry, hallway and dining room, I’m sure the store-bought version would provide similar benefits.

So there you have it; a foolproof plan for enjoying the pleasures of ice cream, while at the same time reducing the potential for health-wrecking side effects. Now get out there, walk to the ice cream shop and enjoy!
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Micki Bare, mother of three, wife, writer and content manager is the author of Thurston T. Turtle books.
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