I think it’s weird that Sunday, July 16th is National Ice Cream Day. In my house, every Sunday is ice cream day.

I kid you not. A number of years ago my husband, in an attempt to curb his consumption of crap, decided that he would only eat treats on Sunday. The plan worked. All week long he would look at, but not actually touch, the cookies his colleagues ate during meetings. The cake sitting on the table after services. The ice cream truck. The candy drawer. And then, on Sunday, he would eat ice cream. Usually an entire pint. Ice cream. He loves it.

Me? If I had to pick one sweet to take to a desert island, it would probably be chocolate cake. Nonetheless, preferences aside, on Sundays I eat ice cream. (I know, it’s a sacrifice, but someone’s got to do it.)

Anyway, it never occurred to me that anyone would need new ways to eat ice cream. That is, until I ran across a slew of articles. You can Google them for yourself, but here’s one: BuzzFeed has 27 ways you may not have thought about before, including a Lucky Charms Ice Cream Sandwich.

Eating ice cream can actually teach kids valuable eating habits.

I’ve written about this before. You can use ice cream to teach kids about portion size. You can use it to teach about proportion. And, you can also use it to teach kids to try new foods. (Yes, new flavors of ice cream count as a new food. There’s no rule saying that new foods have to be bland, boring vegetables.) Read Using Ice Cream Right.

Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to use ice cream to teach the wrong lessons.

  • Finish your meal before you eat your ice cream.
  • Eat your peas otherwise you can’t have any ice cream.
  • If you behave you can have some ice cream.

Sound familiar?

Of course, when parents use these tactics, I know the goal is to get at least some good stuff into your kids before they haul off, head first, into the first cone they see, but research shows these tactics don’t work in the long run.

Instead, of teaching children the value of eating healthy foods, you’ll simply reinforce the notion that ice cream is better than anything else you could offer.

I’m not sure there are 10 new ways to eat ice cream—unless you include standing on your head— but there are 10 ways to think about ice cream that you may not have considered before.

 10 Ice Cream Habits to Teach Your Kids 

  1. Ice cream isn’t a treat that can be earned by eating vegetables first. It’s not like broccoli inoculates kids against the sugar.
  2. It’s ok to eat ice cream in the morning if that’s when your kids want their treat. It’s not OK, though, to eat ice cream in the morning and then cake, cookies and candy in the afternoon. (Unless it’s a very special and rare occasion.)
  3. Grandparents are entitled to give their grandchildren as much ice cream as they want, as long as the grandparents only visit occasionally. If  grandparents hang around every week, then they have to follow the family rules.
  4. If children are obsessed with sweets and treats an “ice cream” ticket that children trade in whenever they want can end the struggles.
  5. It’s better to eat the ice cream you love rather than the ice cream that happens to be available. (One way to teach this is to let kids “turn in” crummy ice cream now for better ice cream later.)
  6. One scoop is enough. (Unless you’re the President. Then you get two scoops.)
  7. It’s not only OK to throw out excess ice cream, it’s the right thing to do. No one should eat an ice cream cone that’s bigger than their head.
  8. Tasting new flavors is a terrific way to explore.
  9. It’s OK to eat ice cream instead of dinner, if you’re at a party or a picnic and you’re not really hungry. (Actually, if you’re not hungry, it’s not only OK, it’s preferred.)
  10. Don’t eat ice cream because you’re sad. Get a hug instead.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~