Q: Is frozen yogurt a good summer treat? It tastes so good, can it really be that good for me?
A: Not necessarily. As you said, it is a treat so you should treat it that way. Many times it can actually pack in more calories and sugar than regular ice cream, especially if you opt for a bigger size because, why not? It's low-fat isn't it?
The frozen yogurt industry surged in the 1980s and early-1990s when Americans decided to completely cut fat out of their diets. This trend leveled off as a result of other fad diets such as the low-carb craze and products emerging on the marketplace. However, frozen yogurt is making a major comeback and everywhere you turn there is a Tasti D-Lite or TCBY. Sure, it can be lower in fat than ice cream (before toppings!) but here are some helpful hints to make sure frozen yogurt is not packing on the pounds.
1) Frozen yogurt should not be a meal.It is not nutrient-dense and usually contains half of the calcium and less protein than you would get in a serving of yogurt from the dairy aisle. Average non fat vanilla yogurt (6 oz): 8 grams protein and 250 mg calcium Average frozen yogurt (6 oz): 5 grams protein and 100 mg calcium
2) Most frozen yogurts have zero grams of fiber.Therefore, if you eat it for lunch, you'll be feeling ravenous in a few hours and your "healthy lunch" will have been a waste of calories. An average 16 oz (large) vanilla frozen yogurt with a side of granola contains about 500 calories, 10 g fat, and about 70 g carbohydrates! Instead, you could have eaten a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread with an apple for half the carbohydrates (more fiber), higher quality protein, and more satiety until dinner.
3) Watch the toppings.While the yogurt may be non-fat, it does not mean adding crumbled Oreos will not have an effect on your waistline. Choosing Gummi bears and fruit with syrup doubles the sugar content of your yogurt, while granola and chocolate chips hike up your saturated fat intake. If you get a topping, stick to a regular serving of fresh fruit or dry nuts for some healthy fiber and protein.
4) Beware of portions.Many times, the serving size of the cup is much less than the actual amount of the fro-yo they dish out. Ask how many ounces are in a cup and tell them not to overfill. This way, you can keep track of how much you're actually eating.
The bottom line is: When you do choose frozen yogurt, have it as a small-sized snack and choose healthier toppings. We searched the country for the best frozen treat and found it at a small, but rapidly expanding chain in Connecticut. Gofer Ice Cream currently has three stores in Darien, Greenwich, and Stamford. They created a soft-serve, non-fat Gofer-Lite which, besides from being delicious contains 11 g fiber per 4 oz serving! I definitely approve this 'ice cream'!
*My FavoritesServing sizes below are for 1/2 cup or 4 oz. Notice, a small size cup is usually larger than 4 oz and the actual cup size served at each place varies, even within a chain.
Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD is a nutritionist and the creator of The F-Factor DietaC/, an innovative nutritional program she has used for more than ten years to provide hundreds of her clients with all the tools they need to achieve easy weight loss and maintenance, improved health and well-being. For more information log onto