Smart Snacking at the Movies

What you need to know about movie theater snacks.

What is it about the movies that give you the munchies? As soon as you walk into a theater and smell the popcorn it’s all you can think about. But dieters beware: movie theater snacks aren’t your friends. Butter-drenched popcorn, high-calorie candy, and super-sized sodas can easily ruin your best dieting efforts as you mindlessly nibble and sip away. Before you know it, you’ve reached the bottom of the bucket and have consumed almost half of your recommended number of calories and almost triple the recommended amount of saturated fat!

The next time you head to the movies, don’t go hungry. Know what dangers lurk at the snack counter and learn how to choose wisely.

Thirst Quenchers

While soda and popcorn go nicely together, a large fountain soda contains between 400 and 700 calories and somewhere in the insane range of 22 and 44 teaspoons of sugar (96 to 174 grams)! This doesn’t count the free refills you may indulge in.

Think you’re in the safe zone by ordering diet soda? Think again. People who drink diet sodas are more likely to be overweight, and studies show a possible link between artificial sweeteners and diabetes. Your best bets for a healthy drink at the movies are water, unsweetened iced tea, flavored water beverages, or seltzer. Better yet—don’t drink anything during the show and avoid having to run out for a bathroom break that causes you to miss part of the movie.

Salty Snacks

Popcorn is the go-to movie snack of choice. Popcorn by itself can be a healthy, low-calorie snack option any time of day. Add loads of butter, flavorings, and salt, and your once-healthy snack becomes a beacon of lard. A large popcorn will run around 1,000 calories, 60 grams of saturated fat, and 1,500 mg of sodium. Is this type of mindless eating really worth it?

As you order popcorn, be smart and choose a small size and little to no salt and toppings. Even a small popcorn can cost you more than 600 calories and more saturated fat than you should consume in a day.

The Sweet Stuff

Craving something sweet at the movies? Don’t fool yourself into believing candy with fruit or nuts is healthy. Sure, it’s better than other options, but it’s still high in calories, sugar, and fat. Also, the small boxes of candy contain more than one serving. The nutrition label may deceive you to think you’ve only eaten 200 calories when in fact the individual package contains two and a half servings of candy. A whole box of milk chocolate M&Ms will add more than 500 calories, 22 grams of fat, and 68 grams of sugar to your waistline. Four ounces (three servings) of Reece’s Pieces contain 600 calories, 27 grams of fat, 63 grams of sugar, and trans fat. A three-and-a-half ounce box of Chocolate Raisinets provides one serving of fruit, but it comes at the cost of nearly 400 calories, 16 grams of fat, and 54 grams of sugar.

When deciding which candy to work into your calorie count for the day, you’d do better to choose the kind that takes longer to eat (candy you have to suck or chew for a while), so you’re not stuffing your face mindlessly.



Allan Alguire

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