Commonly thought of as the healthier alternative to ice cream, frozen yogurt has been having a moment lately. Frozen yogurt bars are popping up constantly and expanding all over, from Menchies to Pinkberry to Yogurtland. Most of them are self-service that allow you to choose your flavor and customize the contents of your bowl with whatever toppings you choose.
While it definitely sounds like frozen yogurt is better for you than ice cream, going overboard can negate the benefits of choosing it. Here, we'll go over some of the best ways to keep your trip to the frozen yogurt bar healthy.
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Called the "flip it" strategy, this is so genius and simple! Visit the toppings station first and once you've selected all the additions you want, add your frozen yogurt on top. This method encourages you to fill your cup with the healthiest ingredients - like fruits and nuts and cereals - before you get a chance to cram your cup with more yogurt than you need. Try to layer the toppings so that the bigger fruits sit on the bottom and everything else is forced to rest on pockets of air. This makes your cup look fuller and discourages you from overdoing it.
You wouldn't know it from looking around, but most frozen yogurt bars will give you a smaller cup size if you ask. Having less room to work with forces you to control your portions and only include the additions you feel are absolutely necessary.
The self-service set-up at a lot of frozen yogurt places can play tricks on your mind. When you think about it, frozen yogurt is already a treat in itself, so any additions are extra and unnecessary. Cutting out the mountains of toppings some folks normally load on can spare you hundreds of calories (and dollars, if the pricing is by weight).
No matter the size of the cup, your best bet is to keep the portion down to a maximum of 4 ounces. Since most of the cups are designed to fit a lot more than that, consider weighing your cup as you build it to get a sense of when you're approaching the recommended limit.
Resist the urge to mix two flavors when you can't decide. Always narrow it down to one! It turns out our taste buds have a limit to how much of one flavor they can enjoy before we get sick of it. If you stick to just one flavor, your taste buds will let you feel satisfied earlier than if you continually switch between flavors in one sitting.
This is a big one! Often when we see "sugar-free" we feel free to make up for the lack of sugar with other indulgences. The problem is that yogurts that don't contain sugar usually do contain artificial sweeteners that give you a craving for more. If you're unsure about what your local frozen yogurt place is using, ask to see the ingredients list. They tend to be posted in the store or available to take home as brochures.
Of course it can be hard walking into those frozen yogurt shops and seeing all the options, all the colors, all the flavor descriptions and then telling yourself you're gonna keep it simple and small. It can take time to make a change in your lifestyle, but keep reminding yourself that your healthier choices today will add up to better health in the future.
(Though if you do need to take a cheat day at some point... don't worry. We'll be looking the other way.)