Snacks: Academy-Award-Winning Movie Snacks (cont.)
If you can't bring your own, "a lot of theaters offer snacks where you use a scoop, so opt for the Oriental rice or cracker mix, if it's available, because it is low in fat and calories," Kimball says. "And if there are nuts, it adds healthy fats and some protein."
If you're watching a movie at home, eating healthy gets a lot easier. A few good options include the air-popped or light microwave popcorn, fresh fruit, and whole-wheat crackers with low-fat cheese, Kimball says.
But remember that even when you're eating healthy snacks, portion size counts. So measure out those portions before you turn on the DVD player.
Something's Got to Give
If you have to snack, try giving up that high calorie beverage that you normally drink with your popcorn or Junior Mints, says Kimball.
Opt for diet soda instead of a super-sized, super-sugary sodas or Slurpees (or, if you're in a New Orleans theater, a daiquiri -- which has about 700 calories a glass!) she says.
"You can also bring in bottled water and bottled juice," the CSPI's Hurley adds. "A lot of drinks come in individual-serving containers."
But what about those of us who like a little something sweet with our flicks?
"If you must have Jujubes or Junior Mints, split it with a friend," Kimball says. And if it's got to be chocolate, consider peanut M&Ms. "They have some nutritional value because peanuts contain good fats and some protein," she says.
Cheaper by the Dozen?
How many times have you been told by a concession stand worker that for a quarter more, you can get large popcorn or a super-sized soda?
"You may be tempted into thinking, 'That's such a good deal,' but it's often double, if not triple, the calories -- not to mention fat," Kimball says.
Dinner at 8?
Many theaters now offer meal-like snacks including chicken tenders, hot dogs, and nachos laden with cheese. But you'll do far better to eat dinner at home or in a restaurant, says Kimball.
"If you are going to eat dinner in the movies, you get lots of what don't need -- namely calories, saturated fat, and sodium -- and not anything of what you do need, such as fruits and veggies and whole grains," says Hurley.
Speaking of things you don't need, consider this revolutionary idea: You don't have to eat anything at all during a movie. Eat a healthy meal or snack beforehand, and you may be able to break the movie-snacking habit that's costing you money and calories.
"Eating at the movies is totally a cultural thing," says Kimball. "My clients from other countries say that people here eat everywhere they go. I always try to emphasize what the point of the event is: It's going to the movies, it's about entertainment, not necessarily food."
Hurley agrees. "It's a two-hour time frame, and you don't have to be eating for the whole two hours that you are watching the film," she stresses. "We are facing an obesity epidemic, and part of the problem is that we eat for every occasion."
Worse, Hurley says, is that it's mindless eating because we are focused on Tom Cruise's samurai adventures or Jennifer Aniston's romantic misadventures.
So "we get to the bottom of whatever we are eating, whether a tub of popcorn or a bag of chips, even if intention is not to do that, because we are not paying attention when we are watching a movie," she says.
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