When I started my New Baby, New Body blog, I talked a lot about baby steps. I can't stress enough how important they are in my life. Case in point: the ice cream tour, one of my latest strategies for keeping my family happy while also keeping our sugar intake in check.
My lucky kids get to spend their entire summer vacation at the beach. Yet somehow, like most kids, they forget just how sweet that is and want even more. Every day the ice cream truck makes its way up to our beach, and when the bell chimes, the whining, begging, and pleading begins. To avoid spending $20 a day on frozen treats or dealing with neon food coloring stains on swimsuits, I had to come up with a plan.
Where I live on Long Beach Island, it seems like there's an ice cream parlor on every corner, and each one boasts some kitchen sink sundae, super-sized slushy, or a quadruple cone. While I have no problem saying no to those things, I have to be realistic; Homemade yogurt pops just don't cut it when you're living on an island of frozen fantasies. Enter the "ice cream tour."
Every week my gang and I hit a new ice cream shop and perform a taste test. The menu is always the same: a soft serve vanilla/chocolate swirl kiddie cone. My kids bring their ice cream journals, interview the staff, and evaluate taste, price, drip factor, size, and overall experience. We take lots of photos and they all draw pictures for each venue. It's absolutely adorable! We've hit six different ice cream parlors and the competition is getting fierce.
Six trips to the ice cream parlor might not seem like a road map to getting fit and healthy, but it's all about baby steps. It's a controlled experiment and we need to test the same sample every week, so there aren't any mounds of whipped cream, cookie crumbles, hot fudge, or other tempting toppings that rack up the calorie count. And if you use the sugar high wisely, with a post-dessert trip to the playground, long walk home, or my personal favorite, a dance jam, you're kicking up the calorie burn.
While an ice cream tour may never be part of any official diet plan, it's a great way to keep your summer family fun in check and for disguising a bit of school work. My high hopes for my kids to write summer journals sailed away before we hit the Fourth of July, but when a trip to the ice cream shop is accompanied by a handy-dandy notebook, we're in business. Sweet business!