If you’re like me, you were watching the Golden Globes the other night and simultaneously making mental notes of all of the movies you need to see. And what better time than now, when the days’ high temps reach 20 degrees and there’s just not that much to do. Going to the movies in the winter is a favorite hobby for many (for me and my husband, it’s probably the only time of year we go). But on a recent trip to our local theater, I couldn’t help but notice how very much junk can be consumed by movie goers in one 2 hour period. It’s a bit scary how the theaters up sell their customers to buy the largest amount of food/beverage they can get, and it’s even scarier that we can consume these snacks in their entirety before the end of a movie. I do love that some movie theaters are posting calorie counts on their menu items (though I’m not sure it’s influencing customers’ choices too much). Here’s some facts that I can’t seem to get out of my head:
- A large movie theater popcorn contains between 16 to 20 cups of popcorn, ~1,000-1,200 calories (or more!), 100 grams of fat, 57 grams of saturated fat and 1,500 mg of sodium (a whole day’s worth). To put this into perspective, it’s equivalent to eating at least 6 fast food burgers. Yeah…
- Many movie theaters have gone back to using coconut oil to make their popcorn. Yes, many would argue that coconut oil has healthy fats that are good for your heart. But 20 cups of popcorn made in coconut oil is another story entirely…
- A large soda, which is equal to 5-7 cups of soda after you take away the ice, has about 500 calories and up to 33 teaspoons of sugar.
- Remember those nachos, with the cheese? I’ve never been a fan, and now I’m very grateful for that. 1 tray has 610 calories, 22 grams of fat and roughly 1,400 mg. of sodium.
Ok, I won’t scare you with the candy facts. You get the idea, and you can read. (Just make sure you read the total number of servings in one container…food packaging can be tricky, for sure). What I will do, though, is give you some ideas to make your next trip to the movies less devastating to your New Year’s resolutions, and your health:
- This won’t surprise you. I’m going to tell you to work out before you go (obviously). I like to plan my workouts for any day I know I’m going out…to dinner, to the movies, to a party. It doesn’t make it ok to splurge like crazy, but it balances things out a bit and makes you feel much more confident when you’re out.
- Eat a healthy dinner before going near the theater. Cooking at home is ideal (for the wallet too), but ordering a healthy dish at a restaurant to fill you up is way better than planning on popcorn or pizza at the theater.
- I’ve also always been a fan of packing a healthy snack in my purse before leaving home. Some ideas are single serving portions of almonds or walnuts, dried fruit, Pirate’s booty or homemade trail mix. Some like 100 calorie packs or natural protein bars. For a little crunch, mini rice cakes or whole wheat crackers work, as does salted edamame.
- If it just feels unnatural not to get a snack at the theater (I get it, it’s part of the experience), some theaters offer “smart snack” packages, or try a kids size of unbuttered popcorn. Or share a small popcorn.
- Think about the empty calories in soda, and decide if it’s worth the extra few miles or 50 burpees you’ll have to add to your workout tomorrow. Instead, opt for a bottled water or unsweetened tea. Or bring your favorite flavored seltzer.
Your goal in the New Year may or may not be to look “red carpet ready,” but I can also almost guarantee that your goal is to not eat the equivalent to 6 or more hamburgers in one sitting. With adequate planning, the right facts and a little willpower, your next trip to the movies doesn’t have to sabotage all the progress you’ve made these last few weeks.