It's February, and that means that young girls all over America are trying to ruin your healthy diet... I mean, sell cookies to raise money in support of the Girl Scouts of America.
Almost all of us get the Girl Scout sales pitch eventually. Whether it is a relative, a friend's kid, or an enthusiastic gaggle of girls selling at the exit of our favorite supermarket, we are faced with the difficult decision to buy Girl Scout cookies, or not. It's hard to say no. After all, it supports a great cause, and who wants to face the disappointment on a little girl's face? Plus, the cookies are delicious! So what can you do to stay healthy in this sugar filled season?
Donate Cookies to our Troops
This is by far the healthiest option! You support your favorite Girl Scout, but the cookies are sent to the brave men and women serving overseas in the US military. When you purchase cookies from a Girl Scout troop that is participating in the "Gift of Caring" program, you simply mark on the form how many boxes you would like to purchase for the troops. The Girl Scouts of America will coordinate the shipping! It's all the caring with none of the calories! (As an added bonus, you can write the cookies off on your taxes as a charitable donation!)
Give Cookies as a Gift
Giving away the cookies as a gift is another great option. It's not as easy as donating to the troops because you have to receive the cookies, then have the strength to give them away again! This strategy works best if you initially order the cookies for specific people, rather than ordering a bunch of boxes and then try to decide who gets them.
Know the Cookies
If you are going to order cookies for yourself, make good choices. Visit the Cookie Page on the Girl Scouts' website for the nutritional information before you buy!
Best Choice: The shortbread cookies are probably the least bad for you (notice, I don't say good for you!) With a serving size of 4 cookies, you get 120 calories (30 calories per cookie), 4.5 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 105 mg sodium, 19 g total carbohydrate, <1 g fiber, 4 g sugars, 1 g protein. Per cookie, the calories are pretty low. One serving also delivers the least amount of total fat and sugar. There are only 10 ingredients in the ingredient list—and sugar appears a mere two times.
Worst Choice: Caramel deLites are probably the worst Girl Scout Cookie for your diet. Just two cookies contain 140 calories (70 calories per cookie), 7 g total fat, 6 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 85 mg sodium, 19 g total carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 13 g sugars, 1 g protein. Caramel deLites deliver the most saturated fat (one serving is 30 percent of your daily value) and although it’s labeled as containing 0 grams of trans fat, the ingredient list includes partially hydrogenated oil. Caramel deLites also have the most sugar of all the cookies—in fact, sugar is the first ingredient (most of the others list flour first), and is disguised under different names a total of six times on the ingredient list.
Notice: Some cookies have two different names! That's because GSoA uses two different bakers to make their cookies! The cookies may look the same, but they may have different nutritional information. For example, Caramel deLites have 12 grams of sugar per serving, while their twin cookie Samoas only have 10 grams of sugar.
Pay Attention to Portions
Most Girl Scout Cookies have a serving size of 1-4 cookies. It can be really easy to finish of half a box in one sitting, especially if you aren't paying attention. It's just so easy to grab one more cookie... and then one more. To prevent this, read the portion size when you first get the box of cookies and write the serving size in big letters on the box to help keep you strong. If you really struggle with portion control, it might be best to pre-sort the cookies into sandwich bags with the appropriate amount of cookies in each bag.
You can do this! The short-term gratification of binging on cookies is not worth risking your long-term goals and results. Think of it this way: Living a healthy life now will help insure that you are around to support the Girl Scouts for many more years to come!