Catching a flick at the local movie theater is an age-old tradition that goes back many, many years and spans countries and cultures across the globe. Part of the whole movie theater experience is paying a visit to the concession stand and spending a fortune on snacks that are nothing but bad news for your body. Buttered popcorn, sugary sodas, candy, and artery clogging nachos and hot dogs will only lead to serious health conditions, especially if you're an avid movie-goer. Here are some tips and ideas for healthy snacking, whether you're at the theater, or on the couch at home:
1. No Butter
A movie just isn't a movie without popcorn - it completes the whole movie theater experience. Whether you are catching a flick at the theater or watching from home, popcorn is just one of those essential movie snacks that most people can't go without. The problem with movie popcorn is it's usually slathered in oil and butter, leading to an increased risk of having a heart attack or stroke. When watching movies from home, make sure you buy organic, light-buttered, unsalted brands of popcorn to avoid the extra cholesterol and sodium. If you're at the theater, skip the pumps of extra butter and opt for a pinch of salt or seasoning. Better yet, don't add anything to the popcorn at all.
2. Avoid Large Sizes
When you're scanning the concession stand menu, avoid the larger sizes at all costs. These giant servings of popcorn and sodas are filled with enough calories to hit your daily quota in one sitting, and they aren't even considered a meal (but they sure cost as much as one). Even some of the medium sizes can be a little too excessive, so if you must have your movie theater munchies, opt for the smaller sizes. That way, you can avoid an increased risk of obesity and heart disease from sitting in a chair for two hours, eating foods that are sized by home storage containers like a "tub" or "bucket" of popcorn.
3. Drink Water
Looking for a quick way to cut the calories from your movie snacking? Then stop drinking extra calories with sodas and sugary beverages. Whether you're at the theater or on the couch at home, the only thing you should be drinking is a glass or bottle of water.
4. Share Your Snacks
Many people are guilty of the unhealthy habit of overeating when snacking while watching the TV or a movie. You can prevent this from happening by sharing your movie snacks with others. Just make sure you don't try to compensate a shared bag of popcorn by buying the home storage sized one. Go for the small bag and split it.
5. Opt for Healthy Alternatives
Planning for healthy snack alternatives for home movies is pretty simple; it's getting the stuff in the movie theater that poses a problem. You can always sneak a healthy snack into the theater, but you run the risk of losing it if you're caught. Some theaters allow you to bring snacks under special circumstances, like if you're allergic to the foods they have at their concession stand. Find out what the theater's policy is before bringing snacks from home, and sneak them in at your own risk.
You can also do a little research on the types of snacks available at the movie theater to find the healthiest options:
- Find the optimal size of popcorn you can order to stay within your calorie limit.
- Get nutritional information on the types of candy being sold and choose the healthiest one possible.
- Again, go for water instead of soda, or at least get a diet soda.
6. Crunchy Munchies
The sound of people munching on crunchy popcorn might compel you to get some of your own. Fight back with healthy snacks that are equally loud like apples or carrots. Remember, if you're going to the movie theater, sneak these in at your own risk. By the way, small plastic bags are good for transporting these snacks in your bag or pocket, plus they seal in the freshness.
7. Eat Before the Movie
Here's an easy way to avoid excess calories from movie snacks - don't buy or eat any. Plan your movie watching sessions right after a meal. Make sure you eat a hearty, healthy meal with plenty of vegetables and lean protein like grilled chicken, which will help you feel full for a longer duration, like the entire length of a movie.
8. Sweet Trail Mix
You can satisfy your sweet tooth with a delicious trail mix of walnuts, peanuts, raisins and dark chocolate chips. This is easy to make when you're at home, and easy to pack in your bag, purse or pocket if you decide to sneak it into the movie theater.
9. Treat Your Frozen Slush as a Food
Frozen slushies are also very common in the movie theater setting. They're basically cups of frozen sugar-water with artificial flavor and food coloring - no real nutritional value there. While it's obvious that you should be skipping out on this cup of empty calories, you can opt for some frozen slush as a snack substitute for candy or popcorn, instead of as a drink. Just eat it slowly with a spoon to satisfy your snack cravings, and avoid excess calories. At home, you can make a healthy substitute with ice, a blender and your favorite fruits like strawberries or cantaloupes.
10. Ditch the Bun
Hot dogs are the most common type of food that can be considered a meal at the movie theater. If you want to indulge in a hot dog without feeling bad about it, ditch the bun. This will help you cut out extra calories and carbohydrates from your hot dog. If you're looking for a healthy condiment, stick to mustard and ketchup; avoid the chili and the cheese....please avoid the cheese. That goes for nachos as well.