Seeing the latest summer blockbusters are among America's favorite activities to stay cool. What's not to love? The big screen, air conditioning, and that large tub of buttery popcorn!
But before you sit down to enjoy the show; did you know that even a small buttered popcorn from the movie theater may contain roughly 420-670 calories (See the attached document.)
This small, unassuming bag may contain two to 34 grams of saturated fat – depending upon the oil used (if you add the butter-flavored topping – the numbers keep going up). Saturated fat is a major contributing factor in clogging your arteries which leads to heart disease.
Let's be honest here; who really gets a small popcorn when they go to the movies? You can increase the size to jumbo – for an extra 50 cents, you can add over 1000 calories - what a bargain to add to your waistline!
Have a sweet tooth? Add some candy for 500 calories, and perhaps 350 calories for the soda, slushy or sweetened iced tea.
Consider that a small cheeseburger at McDonalds has 300 calories, a Starbucks 16 oz Java Chip Frappuccino has 460 calories.
An adult female may only need 1600-1800 calories per day. And you thought you wanted to see a blockbuster movie, not a blockbuster waistline!
It is easy to consume all of those calories over the course of 90 to 120 minutes – it’s called mindless eating.
So, what's the solution? First, eat a healthy and filling meal before going to a movie. For many people – they have become “conditioned” to eat at a movie theatre – regardless of real hunger. If eating beforehand isn't an option and you absolutely must nosh while you watch, here are some waist- and heart-friendly alternatives:
1. If popcorn is truly your favorite movie-time treat, then opt for the kid-size bag and skip the butter.
2. Drink water instead of soda. Even a diet soda, while not containing any calories, is full of harmful artificial sweeteners.
3. As far as sweet snacks go, if you cannot resist the urge to eat the entire package of candy – then stay away from the higher calorie Dots, M&Ms and Skittles (all ranging from 750-800 calories) and stick with Sno Caps, Junior Mints, Gummy Bears or Raisinetes (300-400 calories).
4. A large soft pretzel may not be as innocent at it seems… consider sharing it (versus eating the whole thing yourself) and use mustard as a condiment. Definitely go for the plain version. Half of a soft pretzel is ~ 250-300 calories.
5. Many movie theaters now carry healthier snacks as part of their concession stand choices: granola bars, fruit chips, and small bags of pretzels are all better options than traditional movie snacks.
6. When in doubt, just sneak in your own snacks. I should not be encouraging this – but until movie theaters take more care in providing healthier options (and movies aren’t cheap anymore), bring your own piece of fruit, pretzels, or a granola bar.
Going to the movies should be fun and you should be able to snack without guilt. Ironically, with all the new food labeling information – movie theaters should be held accountable for disclosing nutrition information for the foods and beverages that they serve.
Special thanks to Valery Kallen for her contribution to this blog.