Do you know how many calories are consumed while eating out at the movie theater? Most unsuspecting individuals look forward to eating popcorn and drinking soda pop. Even if you have eaten dinner and have arrived at the theater with a full stomach, the sight of people around you munching on popcorn and the smell of freshly-made popcorn may entice you to eat some too.
However, according to a study conducted by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, eating a medium-sized popcorn and soda is as bad as eating three-Quarter Pounders from McDonald’s (CBS News). One large buttered popcorn has around 1,500 calories and over 100 g of fat. This corresponds to more calories than a full meal. Candy sold at movie theaters are loaded with calories as well. A bag of peanut M&Ms (3 ounces) contains 470 calories and more than 42 grams of fat; even a small-sized slush has around 220 calories.
According to a study conducted in 2000, moviegoers who considered the taste of to be relatively unfavorable ate 61% more popcorn if they were randomly given a bigger bucket instead of a smaller one. The study also found that moviegoers who approved of the taste of popcorn and considered it relatively favorable ate 49% more popcorn if they were given a bigger bucket. The study showed that these individuals were also likely to eat more popcorn if they were accompanied by a companion of the opposite sex.
Hence, here are some tips to help you choose healthy snack options at the movie theater:
- Make up your mind about what you will order in advance: Planning what to order in advance helps you avoid eating extra calories by reducing impulsive buying.
- Avoid empty calories: Candy and regular soda have empty calories, which means that they do not provide any nutritional value, just calories. Order diet soda, iced tea, or coconut water, if available.
- Try to order grilled or baked foods: If possible, order baked and grilled foods instead of fried ones. Choose salads over French fries.
- Eat smaller portions: The size of packaging and the container in which we eat influences the amount of food eaten. Order small-sized portions to limit the amount of calories ingested. Split your order with a friend to ensure that you eat less.
- Avoid refills: Regular soda has too many calories; a 12-ounce can has 150 calories and 12 teaspoons of sugar. Avoid multiplying the number of calories consumed by refilling your order.
- Eat something before going out: To avoid starving by the time you reach the movie theater, eat a little food before stepping out. Eating healthy foods, such as yogurt, granola bars, or fruit are smart choices before you leave for the theater. Drink water to keep yourself from snacking unhealthily.
Religiously following these tips will help you cut down excess calories. However, do not deprive yourself of the enjoyment of snacking while watching a movie. However, eating small meals during the day will prevent you from overeating those tempting movie snacks.
Wansink, B., & Park, S. (2001). At the movies: how external cues and perceived taste impact consumption volume. Food Quality and Preference,12(1), 69-74.
http://blogs.bu.edu/sargentchoice/2011/07/01/eating-healthy-at-your-summer-blockbuster-2/ (accessed on 1/30/2015)
https://dodge.unl.edu/healthyeating (accessed on 1/30/2015)
http://grant.uwex.edu/files/2010/09/Jan-March-2013-F-Grant.pdf (accessed on 1/30/2015)
http://web.ysu.edu/gen/ysu_generated_bin/documents/basic_module/September_2011_WW.pdf (accessed on 1/30/2015)
Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:
Zimmerman, S. (2009). Food in the Movies. McFarland.
Peddecord, K. M., Jacobson, I. G., Engelberg, M., Kwizera, L., Macias, V., & Gustafson, K. W. (2008). Can movie theater advertisements promote health behaviors? Evaluation of a flu vaccination pilot campaign. Journal of health communication, 13(6), 596-613.