Ice cream is the quintessential summer treat. Who doesn’t love this cool, creamy dessert on a hot, summer day? If you are working on mindful eating, considering the following information to help you eat ice cream in a more mindful way. Remember that mindful eating is more about how you eat than what you eat. Even people who eat very healthy foods can eat in mindless ways. Among many things, mindless eating is eating for emotional reasons rather than to satisfy hunger.

Mindful: Eat a Cone. According to a study reported in EatingWell Magazine (link is external), licking an ice cream is more satisfying than eating it with a spoon. Kay McMath, a food technologist for New Zealand’s Massey University is quoted as saying “Flavor in ice cream is released when the fat-which carries the flavor is warmed to at least body temperature.”

In other words, when you lick ice cream, your tongue warms it up. This is in contrast to a spoon which insulates the tongue from the ice cream. The flavor is released in a different way.

The study also hypothesized that ice cream is more satisfying in a cone because it takes a lot longer to eat (licking takes much more work than spooning).

Mindless: Less Licking? Although it may be entertaining, let’s put the motorized ice cream machine into the mindless category. Here is the description of this new device: “Push the button and the ice cream turns while you enjoy one of the world’s most popular treats. No more licking around the edges of a drippy cone.” The cone turns for you. No work involved whatsoever.

Portion Size Clarity. Just like clothing sizes, small, medium and large are not standardized in ice cream cones. Let the person ahead of you order first so you can get a glimpse at the actual sizes of the scoops (and make someone’s day). It’s likely that doing the eyeball test will make you reevaluate your order to mindfully meet your hunger. At a popular ice cream chain, the small cone is 5 oz and the large is 12 oz. (3/4th pound). The next time you pick up a measuring cup, notice the size difference. If you are at home, do a clever mind trick on yourself that actually works (even though it sounds like it won’t). A little bit of ice cream looks like a greater volume in a smaller dish. Studies (link to Wikipedia) show that you will eat less while believe you have eaten more if you use a small bowl. Try it!

The take home message: to eat ice cream mindfully, consider ordering a cone. It’s likely that you will be satisfied with a smaller portion because it will last a lot longer and the flavor will be fuller. Also, order mindfully. Get a clear visual on the size of the cone you are ordering. More, even in ice cream, isn’t always better. What is important is that you enjoy this summer treat mindfully. Lick away!

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