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What do you think of soft-serve frozen yogurt? Is it okay for me to eat? Do you have any tips?

Fro Yo Princess
Dear Fro Yo Princess,

What do I think of soft-serve frozen yogurt? I LOVE IT... SO MUCH! And I eat it a lot (all year round, too, because I live in Southern California!). So I say YES, it is okay for you to eat. For SURE. (Unless you're lactose intolerant, of course!) But I do have lots of fro yo tips. I'll list them for you, so you don't get overwhelmed...

1. Get the facts. Sometimes they're right in front of you, and other times you need to ask for them. But get that nutritional info and find out how many calories and fat grams each ounce of the yogurt has.

2. Don't think for one second the number of ounces you're served has anything to do with the number of ounces the cup holds. Typically a so-called 4-oz. serving of frozen yogurt really has more like 8 ounces. (Think about it -- the fro yo is piled high above the top of the cup.) Ask the server to weigh it for you, if possible. If that's not possible and your cup is overflowing, figure you're getting an extra 4 ounces or so, no matter what size it is.

3. If you want to have toppings, stick with fresh fruit. Thankfully, "tart" yogurt with fruit topping is all the rage, so it's easy to find lots of shops offering fresh fruit options. Avoid syrupy fruit toppings, crushed cookies, chocolate, cookie dough, fudge, caramel, and even nuts (the fro yo peeps tend to put WAY too many on!).

4. Most shops offer MANY kinds of yogurt -- and they can range from about 8 calories an ounce to 30+ calories an ounce. So pay close attention to the kind you're getting. It's sometimes fun to mix a few of the very-low-cal flavors with some of the more decadent ones. That can keep calorie counts down.

There you go. Enjoy your frozen treat...

Dear Hungry Girl,

Please help... I'm confused! When looking at two similar products -- one with a higher calorie count and the other with a higher fat gram count -- which is the better option? Do you stick with counting calories even if the lower cal item has more fat? Is the product with fewer calories but higher fat grams better, or the other way around? I really need to know! Thank you, and keep up the FANTASTIC advice... Love it!

Dear Calorie-Confused,

Good question. I actually don't think there is a right or wrong answer here. It really depends on the two items you're comparing. For the most part, I am more concerned with calories than I am with fat. But keep in mind, each gram of fat has nine calories (other sources of calories have less), so you're not likely to find something super-high in fat that is much lower in calories than a similar product that contains less fat. A good guideline is to try to stick with foods that don't have more than 20% of their total calories coming from fat. (There are, of course, exceptions, like nuts and avocados. But using this guideline most of the time should help you keep a balance.) That info is often printed right on the label (% of calories from fat). You can also just multiply the number of fat grams by nine to see how many calories from fat the food has, and hopefully that number won't be more than 20% of the total calories. Anyhow, back to your question. Unless the number of fat grams in the lower cal option is SIGNIFICANTLY higher than the amount of fat in the higher cal one, I would probably tend to go with the option that is lower in calories. Hope this answer isn't too confusing. If it is, try reading it again slowly, and if that doesn't work, ask one of your math-savvy pals to help out!

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