Is Ice Cream Bad for You?

Filed under: Nutrition: Health, Mealtime, Opinions, Expert Advice: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Expert Advice: Big Kids, Expert Advice: Tweens

If ice cream falls on the pavement, it's still good, right? Photo:

"So, it's summer," my friend says, "and that means a steady inflow of ice cream into many members of our family. And by 'steady,' I mean daily. And by 'daily,' I mean sometimes twice a day. So, exactly how bad is that?"

Is daily ice cream so bad? And if so, how bad? To find out I called Mommy Advisor Christine Palumbo, R.D., a nutritionist in private practice in a Chicago suburb who is an adjunct faculty member at Benedictine University. She listened patiently to my friend's "nutritional defense statements" (which included "this really only happens in the summer" and "ice cream has calcium, right?") before rendering her comments.

"Well," Palumbo started. "There's ice cream, and then there's frozen treats." Ok, go on...

Palumbo concedes that ice cream is wonderful, and she also points out that one of the best things about ice cream is that it's delightfully cold when you're dreadfully hot. However, she cautions, "regular full fat ice cream tends to be high in saturated fat and calories so I would suggest saving ice cream for occasional indulgences, one or two times a week, then on the other days, there are other options." Here are Palumbo's ideas:

Frozen fruit bars. Refreshing and yummy. Also drippy and best eaten outside.

Frozen bananas. "Peel a ripe banana, and stud it with some chocolate chips or drizzle chocolate syrup on it, wrap it in wax paper and freeze it." Or do the chips and the drizzle -- what the heck, it's your banana, right?

Frozen berries. "Put them on a cookie sheet and freeze them, then put the frozen berries in a bag. Sprinkle on vanilla yogurt, or just them eat plain." Or toss frozen berries in the blender with vanilla soy yogurt and a little juice for a tasty frozen smoothie.

Small portions of ice cream. "If you do give your child ice cream, it doesn't have to be a pint. One of those premium brands can have up to 360 calories and 20 grams of fat in a 1/2 cup serving. So keep it small -- and don't let the child dish it out. Either scoop it out yourself and put it in a small dish with a cookie on it or some berries on it, or put it in a cone."

Say no to candy toppings. "Don't do add-ins like chopped up candy bars, it's not necessary -- fruit toppings are okay but there's no need to add candy to this treat." So true.

And finally: Mitigate. It's not a great idea to eat full-fat ice cream every day, but if you're going to an ice cream parlor as a treat, Palumbo says, "Walk around a little, bicycle there or walk after and always make sure the child orders a child-sized portion."

Have you had a less-than-perfect parenting moment and you're wondering, "How bad"? Send it to and it could get addressed in this column. And if you have a favorite summer-treat recipe, please comment below!

Read more about healthy eating on AOL Food.

Sabrina Weill is editor-in-chief of

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.