Friday, November 6, 2009

Attack of the Movie Theater Snacks!

Ahh the movies, who doesn't love a good escape from life staring at the big screen every once in a while.  And the smell of the popcorn, it's hard to resist!

Wait wait! Slow down a second before we all run out to the lobby! Let's take a closer look at your favorite movie theater treats before you go crazy on that bucket of popcorn and completely ruin your diet!

Which movie theater treat is going to kill your diet?

The biggest offender...



Popcorn: At the low end, a medium box with no butter has a modest 951 calories, no fat, and no cholesterol. At the other end, a large bucket (around 20 cups!) with butter delivers 1,238 calories and 78 grams of fat, 49 of them saturated — approximately two days’ worth. (Source)
But I thought popcorn was a relatively healthy snack??! Sure it is, if it's air popped and not coated in oil and butter! Here's what has to say:

In theory, popcorn should be low in calories and high in fiber—a healthy, whole grain snack. And it is when you air pop your own at home. But everything changes when it's made at the theater and becomes a greasy and oil-soaked mess covered in artery-clogging butter or margarine.

A few years ago, when the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) reported that movie theater popcorn was full of unhealthy fat, the industry immediately made changes, switching from coconut oil to healthier oils, such as peanut. Over the years, however, some chains have switched back to coconut oil to save money and improve flavor.

Yikes seriously it's going to take a lot of running to work off that popcorn! P.s. I'm finding several websites that place the calorie range of the large movie theater popcorn high at 1500 calories and over 100 grams of fat... So 1200 calories might be underestimating the calories of the large bucket!

Other Unhealthy Snack Offenders!


(Seriously wondering if anyone actually enjoys the taste of that processed cheese?? *blech*)

Nachos: 40 chips with four ounces of what they call cheese conveys 1,101 calories — roughly equal to two large McDonald’s fries orders or two Quarter Pounders with (actual) cheese — and 59 grams of fat, 18.5 of them saturated. (Source)

Pretzel Bites!

Pretzel: The large, soft kind with cheese topping delivers 643 calories and 14.5 fat grams, three of them saturated, and four of them trans fats — amounts worthy of a dinner entree. (Source)

Jebus! I feel like I'm in a dieters house of horrors right now. I didn't know New Moon was supposed to be a scary movie!?

But wait there's still more...

How many of you go for the bottled water at the snack counter? Right, probably not many hands going up right now. So we usually wash all these salty, fatty snacks snacks down with a sugary bucket of soda!

Remember when you went to the movie theater as a child and the small soda was actually small??? Now you get a small soda and it's suitable to use as a bucket to make a sand castle out of!

Coke. If it’s a 32-ounce medium, unembellished, KIRO calculates 236 calories, but the Men’s Health team went for a lake-like 44 ounce Cherry Coke and were slammed with 572 calories.

With just a medium popcorn and Coke, you’re at nearly 1,200 calories
Holy Calorie Overload Batman!!

In case you need a reminder when you're at the snack counter here's a chart you can print out with a quick run down of all the nutritional information to help you choose the healthiest snack!

(just click on it and it should open in a new page for you to print out!)

So what can you do to get around all this temptation???

I would recommend sharing that popcorn but Sparkpeople say's even that's not 100% fool proof!

If movie theater popcorn is a must-have, stick with a kid-sized serving and forgo the added butter or margarine. Avoid the larger sizes completely, even if it seems like a steal. Moving up to the medium serving from the small size costs only pennies more, but adds about 500 more calories and two days worth of saturated fat. Ouch!

Think you can get away with buying large and sharing? Think again. One study conducted at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that people who were given a large bucket of popcorn ate 50 percent more than those who were given a medium-sized bag. When asked to estimate how much they had eaten, participants thought they only ate as much as those with a smaller bag. This is one of many studies proving that if there’s food in front of us, we’ll eat it without thinking. (Source)

So the correct decision is to simply say no to the larger bucket and get your own smaller portion so you won't be tempted to keep going back for more!

Spark people also recommends you bring some healthy snacks from home... or eat a healthy meal before hand so you won't be tempted to over eat at the theater:

One way to enjoy at treat at the movies without destroying your waistline is to bring your own snacks from home. Yes, this is discouraged by most theater owners because they make a huge profit at the concession stand. However, all theatres have different policies, and some even allow you to bring food from outside vendors (such as restaurants or shops in the same mall or shopping center). Find out the policy at your favorite theatre, and be prepared to lose your snacks to an angry employee if you get caught breaking the rules.

Here are some healthy alternatives you can bring from home to munch on:
  • Bottled water or 100% fruit juice
  • Trail mix, made with nuts and dried fruit
  • Dry cereal
  • String cheese
  • Air-popped popcorn, flavored with Parmesan cheese, chili pepper, or garlic powder
  • Whole grain crackers, graham crackers, or rice crackers
  • Baked potato chips or tortilla chips
  • Bananas, grapes, raisins, or other no-mess fruit
  • 2-3 miniature chocolate bars
The best way to avoid temptation at the theater is to eat a balanced meal beforehand—lean protein, whole grains, veggies and healthy fats will keep you satisfied for several hours. (Sorry, but the concession's pizza, nachos and hot dogs don't fit the bill of a healthy meal.)

Going to the movies is a social experience—and that means eating for many people. But you don’t have to miss out on the fun just because you’re watching what your diet. By bringing your own portion-controlled snacks from home or choosing carefully at the candy counter, the only things you’ll be missing are the inches you'll lose from your waist.

So there you go! You are now armed with knowledge to avoid the movie theater snack trap! Hopefully we all won't kill our diets on your next trip to the theater!


DinaHaansley said...

Awesome post, Ok but now you leave me asking what do you eat when you go to the theater, you named everything there, lol. No but seriously you gave some great alternatives. here's another alternative, if you are dieting, and you have your cheat meal day, make it the day you go see New Moon!

Team Six Pack said...

Pssst... that's why I'm trying to be super super good now so I can have a cheat day... and I'll end up running the next day anyway (or maybe the day after I might be barely awake the next day lol)

I admit I do cheat at the movies, but it's also the only time I ever drink soda. I drink sparkling water if I'm ever looking for something carbonated normally, but at the movies I will get an actual coke and it's like having dessert haha! and I order the small popcorn.