Make sure your movie snack isn’t a box office flop

Snacking in the cinema is a ritual as old as the cinema itself. And with the growing number of options, some may need help navigating the nutritional values ​​of each offering. A Baylor College of Medicine expert has some tips for staying healthy and “never going hungry again” in the theater.

“The experience of going to the movies and focusing on what you’re watching rather than what you’re eating can create this kind of mindless unhealthy snacking binge,” said Courtney Ford, senior registered dietitian in the Department of Medicine – Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Baylor. “One of the best things you can do is be intentional with what you order so you don’t eat more than you actually want.”

On the healthy side

The healthiest item most often available to people at the theater is popcorn. The snack is a whole grain that does not dramatically affect blood sugar like other movie snacks. However, toppings such as heavy salt and butter, which are high in saturated fat, can suppress nutritional value.

Chocolate-covered nuts are also a common item that contain protein, are heart-healthy, and contain less sugar than chocolate-covered fruit. For theaters where there are more substantial food offerings, Ford says to look for items that offer a carb and a protein, like hot dogs, grilled chicken sandwiches and wraps. Protein-rich foods will keep you fuller longer than less filling foods.

Less healthy

On the other side of the spectrum, sugary snacks at the concession stand pose the biggest health threat.

“Snacks that are pure sugar, like gummy or sour candy, raise your blood sugar very high and if that’s the only thing you eat, then your blood sugar drops dramatically,” Ford said. “If you’re going to eat candy at the movies, be sure to eat a carb or protein to smooth out those drastic changes in blood sugar.”

Ford says sugary drinks like frozen pop and soda are empty calories and have the same effects as candy.
A healthy home theater

Theaters aren’t the only place people can watch blockbusters together. Whether you’re attending a community movie night or having one at home, Ford offers healthy alternatives to common movie theater snacks. Frozen grapes and fresh fruit are good alternatives to candy. Popcorn can remain on the menu. Sandwiches are also a very balanced dish that Ford recommends bringing if possible.

Above all, Ford reminds moviegoers that part of eating healthy doesn’t mean completely avoiding the foods you love.

“You don’t go to the movies every day, so don’t feel bad if you decide to snack more,” Ford said. “The more you push these cravings away, the more likely you are to overdo it when you finally let yourself enjoy it.”

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