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Self-serve frozen yogurts

Buyer beware: Many customers will eat more calories from a self serve frozen yogurt store than from an ice cream shop.

I must admit that I like frozen yogurt. But as a snack, not as a meal.  Self-serve frozen yogurt chains have been popping up all over New York and elsewhere. While my first thought was, great—you get to control your portion, it turns out, we end up buying MORE when we serve ourselves. According to the Wall Street Journal, the average size check is higher from a self-serve chain than from a more traditional store.  Believe me, I know. The first time I visited one of these chains, my bill was more than $8!!

The reason we buy more is no surprise. These chains are in business to make money and, they must be aware that the bigger the cup the more we will buy.  Therefore, the only size cups that are available are “big” or “tremendous.” A small size, or even a regular size cup, is not available even on request. I’ve tried getting a small size cup at various chains with little success. The other reason we buy more is the extensive choices we have. As I told Smart Money, the more choices we have, the more we will buy and ultimately eat. At these chains, we often have 10 flavors and more than a dozen toppings to choose from. And, of course, many of us, want a little of each.

So here are some tips: If you are a frozen yogurt lover, you can still indulge on occasion, but be very mindful when making your purchase. Pick the smallest size cup available, but understand that even the smallest size is BIG. Take a lap around and preview all of the flavors that are available before making your selection. Take no more than 2 or 3 flavors, and fill the cup no more than half way. I give my aunt a lot of credit as she only fills up the cup a quarter of the way. Saving for later does not work, especially for frozen yogurt which will melt after you do your first errand on your way home, so don’t even go there—only buy what you will eat NOW. As for topping, it is ok to take a generous portion of fruit (Just remember that it will cost you—as fruit contains a lot of water and will weigh more than candy.) And, one fun topping is OK, but I prefer you stick with a small helping of nuts, which is far healthier than cookie crunch or candy. ENJOY!!

And one final thought. Just because your frozen yogurt probably has fewer calories than ice cream, ounce for ounce, if you take a big portion of the lower calorie yogurt, you may end up eating MORE calories than if you went for the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.

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