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The Little Ice Cream Shoppe of Horrors

From eDiets - The online diet, fitness, and healthy living resource

From time to time, Mr. Bad Food gets accused of serving up "bad foods" that are alluring to the weak-willed dieter. It's akin to offering a drink to an alcoholic... or so I've been warned.

If you are one of those people who can't read about a high-cal, high-fat food without frothing at the mouth and running out into the street in search of the offending fare, then by all means STOP READING NOW!

Today's column on creamy, delicious -- and very much deadly -- ice cream could be the diet death of you.

However, if you are the sane, controlled weight watcher I think you are, then please continue on for a chilly look at ice cream and your diet.

It wasn't all that long ago (about 3 years ago, if memory serves me correct) that eDiets worked hand-in-hand with the Center for Science in the Public Interest to produce this Worst of the Worst Foods column. Mr. Bad Food took over once the business arrangement was dismantled. Every so often I head to the CSPI website (www.cspinet.org) to catch up on their nutritional news.

You may recall the CSPI made headlines a few years back with their exposes of ethnic cuisines like Mexican and Chinese. The latest target to take a licking -- ice cream.

No one should expect ice cream to receive a glowing endorsement from Mr. Bad Food or a consumer watchdog like CSPI. Last July, I turned up the heat on our favorite dessert and summertime treat in my column Your Frozen Faves: The Cold Facts!.

But what you might not expect is to learn just how nutritionally bad an extras-packed concoction can be.

CSPI found...

  • "Ben & Jerrys empty Waffle Cone Dipped in Chocolate has 320 calories and a half a days worth of saturated fat. That's the equivalent of a half-pound rack of BBQ baby back ribs. Fill it with a regular scoop of Chunky Monkey Ice Cream and the cone becomes worse (820 calories and 30 grams of saturated fat) than a full one-pound rack of ribs!

  • "Cold Stone Creamery’s regular Mud Pie Mojo -- a mixture of coffee ice cream, roasted almonds, fudge, Oreos, peanut butter, and whipped topping -- is the equivalent of TWO Pizza Hut Personal Pan Pepperoni Pizzas (1,180 calories and 26 grams of saturated fat).

  • "Häagen-Dazs Mint Chip Dazzler is a portable sundae with three scoops of mint chip ice cream, hot fudge, Oreos, chocolate sprinkles, and whipped cream. Nutritionally, its like eating a T-bone steak, Caesar salad, and a baked potato with sour cream (1,270 calories and 38 grams of saturated fat)."

    You should go to the CSPI website to check out the entire article. But I want to share this eye-opening quote from CSPI senior nutritionist Jayne Hurley:

    "It’s as if these ice cream shops were competing with each other to see who could inflict the greatest toll on our arteries and waistlines. It’s not just regular ice cream, but premium. It’s not just one scoop, but two or three. It’s not just a cone, but a chocolate-dipped waffle cone. It’s not just hot fudge, nuts, and whipped cream but every conceivable combination of cookie, candy, and chocolate."

    Every other week or so, I take my kids to Stewart's Drive-In for an ice cream treat. Since I am following a low-carb diet, the super high-carb concoctions are off limits for me. One thing I've learned: a small is no longer small -- order "baby" servings and walk away satisfied, but not stuffed.

    Keep in mind that a single scoop of premium ice cream provides 250 to 350 calories and a half a day’s worth of saturated fat. Is your head swirling yet? It should be easy to see that once you begin tinkering with "plain" you begin playing with diet fire.

    Many ice cream parlor offerings top 1,000 calories. And it doesn't stop at ice cream alone. CSPI says one large Baskin-Robbins Vanilla Milkshake has 1,070 calories and 32 grams of saturated fat -— that’s like drinking THREE McDonald’s Quarter Pounders!

    A medium chocolate shake at Burger King has 500 calories, 8 grams of fat (5 saturated), 25mg cholesterol, 440mg sodium, and 95 grams of carbs.

    Another CSPI insight: "One sundae at Friendly’s, the 5-scoop Candy Shop Reese’s Pieces, has 1,310 calories, a whole day’s worth of fat, and two whole days’ worth of saturated fat." I can hear a swelling number of you now... asking, "But Mr. Bad Food... what about frozen yogurt? It tastes like ice cream but it just has to be healthier... doesn't it?"

    Well, yes... and no.

    Frozen yogurt is lower in fat than ice cream. But order a Toffee Coffee Cappuccino Chiller at TCBY and you get the calories and saturated fat of two pork chops, a Caesar salad, and a buttered baked potato. The TCBY travesty has 1,200 calories and well over one day's recommended saturated fat.

    Susan Burke, eDiets director of nutrition, notes, "Yogurt is very healthy if it’s low in fat and doesn’t contain much added sugar. Some may think that if yogurt is healthy, then frozen yogurt is healthy, too. Well, read the label on the Haagen-Dazs Strawberry Cheesecake Craze Frozen Yogurt. One scant 1/2-cup serving has 220 calories, 8 grams of fat and 4 grams of saturated fat! That’s only 30 calories less than the regular Haagen-Dazs Strawberry Ice Cream!

    "You can definitely make a healthier choice. The same 1/2-cup serving of Haagen-Dazs Strawberry Diet Frozen Yogurt has only 130 calories, 2 grams of fat and only 1 gram of saturated fat! You can enjoy twice the amount and still have half of the fat and only a quarter of the saturated fat.

    "Make it your goal to read the labels or ask the counter help for the numbers you need -- nutritional knowledge is a great thing!"

    Most chains will scoop up low-fat ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet, or sorbet with only 100 to 200 calories and little or no saturated fat per. Earlier, Mr. Bad Food mentioned a fast-growing chain called Cold Stone Creamery. If gluttony has become the national religion, then Cold Stone is chief god. Go to their website (www.coldstonecreamery.com) if you dare. Maybe I'm boring, but the images of their outrageous mountains of ice cream and "toppings" turn my stomach. Please don't go here on an empty stomach.

    When it's all said and done, portion control is the key to a healthy diet. Keep in mind that the recommended serving size for ice cream is typically a half-cup... that's four ounces, not a pint or a half-gallon. Four ounces of ice cream would about fit in the palm of your hand. Don't try it -- it will be cold and messy!

    Not an eDieter but you'd like to take the plunge? Simply click here and start winning the losing battle!

    Mr. Bad Food's Excellent Atkins Adventure

    This just in: thanks to the expert help of eDiets chief fitness pro Raphael Calzadilla, I have overcome my weight loss plateau and dropped another 2 pounds. So, after 8 weeks on the Atkins Nutritional Approach, Mr. Bad Food is down a total of 22 pounds. Atkins, eDiets and Raphael... it's the triple play that's keeping this writer on the right track to health and wellness.

    I know many of my fellow low-carb crazies (and I say that lovingly... as someone who is crazy about this eating plan) will appreciate the "Ode to Atkins." Regular contributor Joanne Eglish served up this bite-sized poem:

    After a lifetime of grapefruit and rice,
    The Atkins eating plan tastes mighty nice.
    Mushrooms grilled with a juicy steak,
    Real butter... forget about fake!
    Imagine fried eggs and bacon in the morn,
    I'm feeling like a dieter reborn.
    Noon we greet with avocado and chicken,
    And my inner Colonel says it's finger-lickin'!
    I'm a tad hungry come mid-afternoon,
    Cheese with olives sends me over the moon.
    Come and join my dinner fun,
    Start with shrimp... and lose a ton!

    Sounds corny, I know. But the truth is Atkins allows you to eat well and lose weight. Now isn't that Atkins Nutritional Approach a refreshingly different approach to dieting?

    Reader Feedback

    I stumbled upon your recent article on the Atkins Nutritional Approach and wanted to say, "Me too!" I am also 44 and ecstatic to have lost 30 pounds on Atkins since April. I could have lost more, but after the first 2 months I went all the way to maintenance... this diet is miraculous! I remain in ketosis and just got rid of a bunch of old clothes. I am enjoying every bit of this and the loss of many carbs is not a high price to pay. There is obviously science behind this... I am thrilled and getting compliments I haven't heard in a long time. Good luck with your Atkins' life. God Bless that man for all his work and the flak he stood up to.
    Penny

    While talking with a fellow Atkins dieter, I admitted to still craving breaded chicken and mozzarella sticks from time to time. She admitted that she and her husband were the same way and found a solution without breaking the diet. Pork rinds are a great substitute for breading. Crush the pork rinds, dredge chicken in them, shallow fry them (I use only extra virgin olive oil) and you have fried chicken. Do the same with string mozzarella cheese and you have mozzarella sticks. Remember to eat healthy -- these are for getting you through the worst cravings and still maintaining the low carb way of eating. Keep making me laugh!
    E. Gibson

    One thing I find silly about calorie-counting dieters is their need to buy pre-packaged easy to prepare food. Don't cry about having to count calories on your pre-prepared dinner -- MAKE your own dinner! I know everyone is busy, but if you want to eat healthy, cook for yourself! I'm a busy student going to school fulltime, working and living on my own and I still manage to cook a few meals for myself each week. The other days I just eat leftovers. There are plenty of good-tasting, healthy, easy-to-prepare-from-scratch recipes out there! Just go to your library, or surf the web and find them. Kick the pre-packaged food industry in the butt by learning to cook from scratch! Oh, and don't forget to support your local organic farmers!
    Rachel
    Psych student and frugal gourmet

    Thanks to everyone who took a minute or two to write me this past week. I try my best to keep up with the email so drop me a line. Whether your subject is something good... something bad... or even something ugly... Mr. Bad Food welcomes all!

    Leave 'em Laughing

    20 Signs You've Grown Up

    1. You keep more food than beer in the fridge.
    2. 6 a.m. is when you get up, not when you go to bed.
    3. You hear your favorite song on an elevator.
    4. You watch the Weather Channel.
    5. You go from 130 days of vacation time to 14.
    6. Jeans and a sweater no longer qualify as "dressed up."
    7. You're the one calling the police because those darn kids next door won't turn down the stereo.
    8. You don't know what time Taco Bell closes anymore.
    9. Your car insurance goes down and your payments go up.
    10. You feed your dog Science Diet instead of McDonald's leftovers.
    11. Sleeping on the couch makes your back hurt.
    12. You no longer take naps from noon to 6 p.m.
    13. Dinner and a movie is the whole date instead of the beginning of one.
    14. Eating a basket of chicken wings at 3 a.m. would severely upset rather than settle your stomach.
    15. A $4 bottle of wine is no longer "pretty good stuff."
    16. You actually eat breakfast food at breakfast time.
    17. "I just can't drink the way I used to," replaces, "I'm never going to drink that much again."
    18. Ninety percent of the time you spend in front of a computer is for real work.
    19. You no longer drink at home to save money before going to a bar.
    20. You read this entire list looking desperately for one sign that this doesn't apply to you!

    Well, until next week, the fridge door is closed. But if you have any questions and/or comments -- or even a tasteful joke, a Hall of Shame nominee, or a great recipe to share -- feel free to write me, eDiets editor-in-chief John McGran, at john@ediets.com.

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