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Cool Summer Treats That Won't Wreck Your Diet

WebMD gives the lowdown on low-carb, low-fat ice creams and frozen desserts.

Testing the Treats

But a treat is not a treat unless it tastes good and satisfies your cravings.

So in the name of science and relief from the summer heat, WebMD's editorial staff conducted an informal taste test of a variety of low-carb and low-fat ice creams and frozen yogurts.

The test revealed that low-carb ice creams earned praise for their creaminess, no doubt thanks to their much higher fat content. But some found the taste "a bit off."

The low-fat items got lower marks for texture and mouth feel, but redeemed themselves with their sugary sweetness.

Jackson warns that some people may be sensitive to the sugar alcohols, such as mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, and other polyols, that are used in producing low-carb ice creams and can cause diarrhea or bloating.

"With sugar alcohol molecules, part of the molecule is going through your system undigested. Some people are sensitive to this and should use high caution when they see sugar alcohols listed in the ingredients," says Jackson.

Put the Freeze on Portion Control

One of the biggest issues in preventing an occasional cool treat from derailing your diet is portion control.

Contrary to popular belief, a pint of ice cream -- no matter how healthy it may be -- is NOT intended to be eaten at as a single serving in front of the TV. Those nutrition facts printed on the side are based on a single, half-cup (4-ounce) serving, which translates to four servings per pint.

"I don't know how many people that live in America that can go into a container of, whether it be light ice cream, fat-free ice cream, frozen yogurt, or a low-carb dessert, and pull out a half of a cup," says Jackson. "Most of the time there is a crater on the side so you want to clean up and eat that, or there's some on the lid so you have to eat that. It's very difficult to control portions yourself."

That's why it's usually better for people who are watching their weight to keep things in the freezer that are already portion-controlled, such as frozen fruit bars, ice cream sandwiches and cones, or small ice cream cups.

"As much as you can opt for things that are in a sandwich, a bar, or something that's already been portioned, you're going to be far more likely to eat a portion-controlled item than one you [scooped] yourself," says Jackson.

If you want to eyeball a half-cup serving of ice cream, Jackson recommends visualizing half a tennis ball, which isn't a portion widely served in scoop shops unless you order a kiddie cone or make a special request.

Homemade Heat Busters

It's not unusual for low-carb and low-fat ice creams to cost significantly more than plain old ice cream. But that doesn't mean that your pocketbook has to suffer for the sake of your stomach.

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