Food For Thought – Heading to the Movies!

Ahh… the movies, a place to escape, to be transported to another world, to relax and forget about everything else but the screen in front of you and the story unfolding on it. Most people associate going to the movies with eating popcorn and snacks, its tradition. One goes hand in hand with the other. It’s also part of what makes the theatre fun for us, and brings back fond memories of great movies we saw and who we saw them with. However this cultural pastime, which is fun and completely enjoyable, is not very forgiving for those of us trying to maintain healthy lifestyles or those of us trying to improve our health by making healthy food choices.

It is crazy to think that you can eat a full days worth of calories just by snacking at the movies, but its easier to do than you might think. The great thing is that due to new laws in Canada any establishment serving food with more than 20 locations across the country is now regulated to post the calorie counts for their menu items. We already knew that movie theatre popcorn was probably not that great for us, but because we never REALLY knew the calorie count we could eat it in denial. Not anymore…the calories are now posted right above the snack bar for us to see and think about as we order our movie snacks.

 

As you can see from the sign above its easy to overeat at the theatre and what’s worse is that the snacks your eating are really just empty calories. Nevermind if you decide to add hot butter or go for the larger sizes. It’s interesting that they also have a sign that states the total amount of calories the average adult needs to consume on a daily basis.

 

I especially like the part where it says “individual calorie needs may vary”…no one needs 1700-2000+ EMPTY calories from sugar, and bad fats…not one single person, EVER.

However, even with all the hype around making healthy food choices and the whole calorie posting requirement, there have been no additions of healthy alternatives to the concession stands at the movie theatre like air popped popcorn, apple slices, nuts, raw veggies and humus/or dip. You won’t find veggie chips, bean chips, rice cakes or real fruit gummies either, so what are those of us trying to eat healthy and still enjoy going to the movies supposed to do? First  – Skip the concession stands (that includes Outakes – 900 calories for a poutine or 800 for a burger…ouch!). Second try to find healthy alternatives like frozen yogurt from Yo Yo (only 100-200 calories for a small cup – no toppings) or maybe an item from Tim Horton’s (In Canada we have them in theatre’s) like a coffee/tea, sandwich or  soup…but it’s still not the same as snacking on candy or popcorn and truly enjoying the  “movie experience”.  So I think the only choice left is to bring your own snacks.

I regularly pack my kids healthy popcorn, small versions of treats like a Halloween size chocolate, and homemade protein type cookies/bites or bars in my tote. I always pack snacks for myself such as apples with cinnamon, or veggies and dip, or almonds, or cocoa nibs(or a piece of really good dark chocolate/or a protein bar cut up into squares), or protein chips/rice cakes. I have no problem paying to watch a movie, but I shouldn’t be forced to eat from the available (junk) choices provided.  Until movie theatres start offering better choices I will continue to bring in healthy snacks for me and my family because going to the movies is fun, walking out with a stomach ache and belly full of garbage – is not.