Portion Control and Ice Cream Woes

Portion control and ice cream woes

So you had a craving. Or maybe it was a planned cheat night and on the way home you stopped at the corner store.

Like a little kid you pressed both hands up against the glass freezer door to look at all the flavours of ice cream.

You’re practically salivating – like a dog when you ask if he wants a treat and his Pavlovian response is to sit real pretty, bubbles of drool forming around his gums in anticipation.

You pull open the freezer door and grab your choice (or two) from the shelf, pay, and walk home.

Maybe you wait until after dinner.

Maybe you can’t even wait long enough for the ice cream to soften on the counter, which would make it easier to scoop.

Maybe you get out your smallest bowl and your smallest spoon thinking this will slow you down so that you can savour every sweet, cold, slowly melty sensation on your tongue before you swallow that ice creamy goodness.

(And yes, I am still talking about ice cream.)

Most likely, if you’re like me, you used a decent sized bowl. Fuck that tiny thimble-sized dish! I got Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate fudge brownie and I’m gonna kill it!


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Oh. Em. Gee. Deliciousness!

And yes, I’ve eaten half a container in one sitting.

OMG! Did you go back for seconds?! Did you finish the entire pint?!

Don’t ask me how many calories that was.

Don’t ask me how many grams of fat!

And by all means, DO NOT ask me the percentage of fat I consumed in all those calories, let alone how many from saturated fats.

Ohhhhh… did I mentioned just how many spoons of sugar were in that half a carton of Ben & Oh-so-tasty-Jerry’s?

How Did You Feel Afterwards?

Did you hate yourself? Give yourself a guilt trip. Did you cry a little on the inside. Did you schedule a workout first thing in the morning. Yup, gonna kill it at CrossFit followed by the hardest spin class the gym has to offer.

Wasn’t eating half-a-tub punishment enough?

Whether it was ice cream, a full-sized bag of chips, a bag of cookies, half a pie, or two trips too many to the all-you-can-eat barf-ait, we have all done it.

I have done it.

But here’s the scoop, or should I say, THE BIG QUESTION:

Can You Eat Just One Scoop of Ice Cream?

Can you eat a single cookie? A small bowl of chips? A slice of pie that’s 1/8th of the whole?

How would you feel after eating that dessert in moderation versus eating the whole pie/tub/bag, etc.?

strawberry ice cream cone

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Let’s Get Real

Last month my boyfriend said to me, “Let’s not eat dessert for the next two months before Pride (the last weekend of June here in Toronto).

I failed him (and me) and bought dessert the next day.

May was not a shining month for controlling our cravings for sweets.

On Sunday (May 31st), Christiaan exclaimed, “No desserts in June!”

We already had half left over in the fridge, but other than that we both feel committed.

Managing or Giving Up Sweets

Giving up sweets isn’t the easiest thing in the world. Last year I documented our 30-days of no desserts experiment. It does help to have social support if you want or need to go cold-turkey.

However, if you still want a dessert once in a while, but don’t want to overdo it here’s what I recommend.

Let’s say you’re craving ice cream. Here’s what I do:

Go out for ice cream to a specialty shop, like an Italian Cafe for gelato or to a Baskin Robbins. Don’t bother with Dairy Queen – you might as well just eat a tub of ice cream and if you order that Blizzard you’re done for.

At the store only order a single scoop. Choose wisely – most places will give you a taste of one or two flavours to help you decide. Make sure it’s a flavour that will truly satisfy your craving.

Take Your Time to Enjoy That Scoop.

Sit down somewhere to truly enjoy it. Lick, don’t bite (oh here we go again…) and savour the flavour. Let the ice cream slowly melt on your tongue. Allow yourself to fully appreciate how it tastes. Notice if it changes – what do you taste as it melts and warms up inside your mouth? How does the flavour intensify or mellow? If it has nuts or chocolate chips in it, enjoy the difference between melting and crunching.

That was just one lick. Enjoy it, notice it, swallow it slowly, and then take a another lick, or another spoonful.

Make it last. Don’t take another bite until you are completely finished the first one.

Zen Dazs Häagen with Ben & Jerry

Think of this as Zen and the art of eating ice cream. Be fully present to notice every moment. Be mindful of each bite.

When we rush to eat dessert, the high we experience from all the sugar is one big tease for our brain. The pleasure sensors fire off like mad at the brevity of the sensations begging for more. Don’t cheat your brain – allow yourself to fully experience every bite, every lick, one at a time.

OH that sounds great, Darren, but I’d rather have a cookie.

Fine! Go to Starbucks and get a big cookie, one of those $2 cookies that really satisfies you.

Skip the bag of store-bought cookies or freshly baked. Who in their right mind can really eat just one cookie from the bag? I know I can’t – and yes, I’m weak!

But they’re so small. Another one can’t hurt. Yummy! Think I’ll just have one more. Hmmm ok just one more. Fuck! I just ate the entire row!

Yup. Been there, ate that much too!

Hated myself for it.

The Single Portion Control Method Works

I swear by the single portion method for a number of reasons.

It gets you out of the house. Sure it costs more than buying a tub or a bag, but the higher cost is part of the psychological trickery.

If I spend more on a single scoop I will also tell myself that I need to appreciate it more, which makes the treat even more special.

When I’m done and return home, there’s no dessert waiting for me – no half bag of cookies or less than half a tub of ice cream. Just me and my memories of that delicious, moderately sized and sensible portion of delectable dessert-ness.

Satisfied, I can go about the rest of my day. I don’t feel bloated. I don’t hate myself. Instead, I feel great. I gave myself a treat and I didn’t overdo it.

Eat well to be well.