The Real Scoop on Frozen Treats

Preschool & Older

When the mercury rises, kids head to the freezer for a sweet treat to cool them down. But not all frozen treats are created equal. Beware of claims like "low fat" and "no sugar added"—these icy delights sometimes pack more calories than their non-diet counterparts!

Our Strong4Life nutritionists have the scoop on how to navigate the freezer section and make your subzero splurges smarter.

Ice cream: go easy

Is there anything that screams for ice cream louder than a sweltering summer day? As an occasional treat, ice cream is OK, but remember ... it’s chock full of sugar, fat and not much else.

Try this: Let kids have one moderate scoop, served in a small bowl. That way, they’ll satisfy their summertime sweet tooth without going overboard! 

"Diet" ice cream: don't bother

Low calorie and sugar-free options have merely traded sugar and fat for artificial ingredients, so we don’t recommend them.

Try this: Go for real ice cream as an occasional treat, but remember to serve small portions in small bowls. 

Frozen yogurt: beware the hidden sugar

Frozen yogurt likes to pretend it’s healthy—and it often does have less fat than ice cream. But frozen yogurt generally has more sugar, cancelling out any health benefits. Add a pile of sugar toppings and you’ve just jacked the sugar through the roof.

Try this: Eat frozen yogurt like you would ice cream—only on occasion. And limit portion size to about half a cup with one small topping. 

Toppings: choose wisely

It’s all too easy to go overboard at the topping bar. A spoonful of chocolate sprinkles here, cookie crumbles there, gummy worms around the edges ... all drizzled with chocolate syrup—pretty soon, you’ve sabotaged your good intentions.

Try this: Remind kids to choose a little bit of fresh fruit or nuts—like strawberries, mango, chopped pecans or almonds—as their ice cream or frozen yogurt topper.

Sherbets and sorbets: check the label

Sherbets and sorbets do have less fat than ice cream and often fewer calories. But while they might beat ice cream in the fat department, they often pack just as much—if not more—sugar, especially with mix-ins or toppings.

Try this: Compare the ingredients of your favorite frosty treats and choose the one with the smallest ingredient list—this should also be the one with ingredients you actually recognize—as an occasional icy indulgence.

Make it a special occasion

It’s tough for kids (or adults) to resist the siren song of a frosty treat just waiting for them in the freezer.

Try this: Instead of buying ice cream, frozen yogurt or popsicles at the grocery store, take your family out for a small serving of ice cream or frozen yogurt as a special occasion. 

"Diet" frozen treats: think again

If a frozen sweet is actually low calorie, it’s probably full of artificial sweeteners, which aren’t great for kids.

Try this: Check the label and leave the low-fat, light, no-sugar-added, sugar-free products in your grocer’s freezer!

Try something new

Freeze watermelon balls or grapes for a chilly go-to treat your kids will love. Or, make your own homemade popsicles and frozen treats that provide some nutrition, too. Try our banana pops and frozen yogurt fruit pops.