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Ice cream substitutes touting fewer calories and more protein are on the rise, but they aren’t necessarily a healthier option.
Fit bodies are gravitating towards these low-calorie imitations since there’s the belief that even if they consume the entire pint they won’t feel “guilty” afterwards because the calories are relatively low, and the product is packed with protein and fiber, says Claire Shorenstein, R.D.N. a nutritionist at Nutrition Energy in New York City. But she cautions that these aren’t truly natural products. In Halo Top, for example, Shorenstein points out that fiber is added as "prebiotic fiber," which are un-digestible plant fibers that bacteria in your gut can work on. "They can sometimes lead to bloating and other GI issues," she notes. What is more, calories are reduced in part by replacing some sugar with substitutes such as Stevia, monk fruit concentrate, and erythritol. The latter “can cause side effects such as gas, bloating, and diarrhea," she adds. Moreover, studies have shown that sugar substitutes can cause healthy folks to crave sweets more regularly.
“It's important to remember that ‘natural’ labels do not necessarily equal ‘healthy’ and these low-calorie diet products are processed substitutes for what most people truly want—real ice cream.” We need to upend the mentality that there should be guilt around eating certain foods, and if you’re truly craving ice cream, have a scoop and take your time to savor it, says Shorenstein. Indulging every once in a while and eating for pleasure can actually help you gain more self-control.