The Best Low Calorie Ice Cream Bars and Pops
Who doesn’t crave ice cream when the temperature hits above 90 degrees? And hearing the Mr. Softee jingle only intensifies your cravings! I’m a big fan of eating the real thing and see nothing wrong with eating a scoop of real ice cream. It tastes better and is more satisfying than many of the “diet” ice cream bars. However, indulging on a regular basis can pack on the pounds or cause other unwelcome consequences in the body. So whether you are trying to watch your weight, blood sugar, cholesterol or just eat healthy, it will be important to come up with a plan on how to incorporate frozen ice cream desserts into your diet. No one wants to feel deprived!
The good news is that there are tons of frozen dessert options including ice cream, yogurt pops, ice cream sandwiches and juice pops … and many are low in calories. Some contain dairy, whereas others are dairy-free or just fruit based. I did a little research and put together a guide with 55 choices! I’m not necessarily telling you which bars/pops are best, but it is a comparison guide of commercial products you’ll find in supermarkets to let you make a choice. Most of my picks are individually portioned and all are 130 calories or less. To get my FREE guide (with brand names), “The Best Low-Calorie Ice Cream Bars”, click on the link at the end of this blog post.
While there are many options available, think about your goals and/or “issues” (if you have any) when it comes to dessert. Are you trying to watch your weight? Do you have a medical condition like high cholesterol, diabetes/prediabetes, insulin resistance, PCOS, or lactose intolerance? Do you have trouble with portion control? Do you want something with only natural ingredients? How often do you want this ice cream treat? The answers to these questions will help direct you to which frozen dessert may be best for you.
Top 8 considerations for choosing low calorie ice cream bars and pops
- Find something that tastes good to you. This is the number one consideration. No sense having a dessert that tastes watery, bland and full of chemicals just because it’s “low calorie”. There is enough of a variety out there to find something you like.
Tip: You’ll have to taste test to find out what works for you as it’s a matter of personal preference. But for some of you, if it tastes TOO good, you may go back for more than one! This happened to me with the mint Yasso Ice Cream sandwiches 🙂
- Concerned with artificial ingredients and additives: Many of the “diet” or “light” products contain MANY ingredients, including artificial sweeteners, thickeners, colorings, etc. It’s a matter of personal preference as to whether or not you want these ingredients. I’m not a huge fan of artificial sweeteners, but if it helps you to avoid eating a pint of Haagen-Daz … you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons.
Tip: Scrutinize the label for all natural ingredients. The fewer the better. In the past few years, there has been a much wider selection on the market of all natural pops and bars including juice pops, real ice cream, fruit and veggie bars, etc. While regular supermarkets sell some of these products, you’ll have a larger selection at stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. Pic credit
- Watching your weight: Pay attention to the calories, especially if you want to indulge several times a week (or even daily!) While 280 calories for a 1/2 cup of Coconut Bliss doesn’t sound like THAT much, are you really going to stick to the “portion size” of 1/2 cup? And even if you do, 280 calories is on the high side if you choose to indulge several times a week. If it’s a once in a while dessert, go for it! Eat it mindfully and enjoy it.
Tip: Check the calorie content carefully. For example, a mini Hagen daz cup has 290 calories versus a Breyer’s cup for 130 calories. All of my frozen dessert pics are 130 calories or less. If you have trouble with portion control, an individually portioned desert might be a better bet for you.
- Trouble with portion control. THow many times have you stood in the kitchen with your spoon in the pint of Ben & Jerry’s thinking ” just one more little spoonful”!
Tip: You are likely better off buying individually portioned bars and pops versus pints. Lucky for you my dessert guide has over 50 individually portioned desserts! Personally, I only buy individually portioned desserts as I also have trouble with portion control. Now of course, if I’m at an ice cream parlor, I’ll indulge in one scoop of the real thing – but I would not keep a pint of ice cream in my apartment. pic credit
- Watching your carbs: Many of my clients watch their carbs due to diabetes, prediabetes, PCOS or just wanting to follow a low carb diet. Pretty much every frozen dessert contains mainly carbs. After all, we aren’t eating frozen cheese sticks! But some have more than others.
Tip: Read the label for total carb content. Some people just focus on sugar, but keep in mind that all carbs eventually break down into sugar. The lower carb products tend to use sugar alcohols or artificial sweeteners to lower the sugar/carb content. Products that contain high amounts of sugar alcohols (i.e. sorbitol) are only partially digested and can cause gastric upset in some people (or if you consume too many of them). The choice as to whether or not you choose to consume artificial sweeteners is a matter of preference. I’m not a huge fan of them, but again, you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons.
- Lactose intolerant: Up to 60% of the population may be lactose intolerant to some degree. Symptoms can range from gas and bloating to frantic runs to the bathroom (not what you want at your Saturday night BBQ). Many frozen desserts are dairy based. Other people choose to avoid dairy for other reasons.
Tip: Luckily there are many choices that are dairy free, including sorbets, juice pops, or desserts based on fruit, soy, almond, or coconut milk. If you love real ice cream – you’re in luck as some are made from lactaid milk.
- Following Low FODMAP diet or have IBD. Many people with IBS find relief from their symptoms by following a Low FODMAP diet.
Tip: If you are on a Low FODMAP diet, choose a dessert made from allowed fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, or coconut milk, or lactaid milk.
- Want something to make you feel fuller. I bet eating a pint of Haagen Daz will take the edge off your hunger levels due to the high fat and calorie content. Umm … but that’s not my first choice for you.
Tip: Look for a bar added protein and fiber. Examples: enlightened ice cream and bars. They have a bit of a strange consistency … kind of like clay in my opinion. However I really like the bars. It takes the edge of your craving yet one bar totally satisfies you. The frozen yogurt bars also contain a little more protein than the pure juice bars.
- Want the real thing: Go for it! Just keep in mind that the calories add up if you are watching your weight. If you are trying to keep your cholesterol down, be aware that premium ice cream is loaded with saturated fat. Most – but not all – experts still believe saturated fat raises cholesterol (hot debate in the news now)
Tip: Look for a mini portion like the Haagen Daz little cup or be diligent about portioning out a small serving from the pint. I usually recommend using a little bowl to trick your brain that you are eating a larger portions.
- Source of nutrients. It’s hard to believe that a frozen dessert can be a source of nutrients, but some of the newer ones are.
Tip: For example, Eatpops is made from real fruits and vegetables, and contain ingredients such as ginger and cayenne, which have health benefits.
Don’t forget to download my FREE guide (with brand names)
Click here–> Frozen Dessert Bars for 130 Calories or Less .
References: much of this info was obtained from The Bar Chart abridged from Nutrition Action Healthletter June 2017. Other ideas came from my own research and my facebook friends!
DISCLAIMER: My FREE download included a variety of products. Just because I listed it does NOT mean I endorse it as healthy … or that I necessarily think it tastes good. This is merely an informational chart for you to use to pick your own product!
What are your favorite low calorie (or not so low calorie!) frozen ice cream bars?
I especially love problem-solving, whether it’s helping women defeat issues plaguing them for years, helping a busy executive find practical ways to get heart healthy, or providing tips to help you reverse diabetes. That’s why I’m on a constant quest to expand my knowledge by staying on top of the latest research.