When Movie Munchies Attack

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Your best bet when going to the movies is to bring your own snack, or rather sneak your own snack. Items that are small, healthy, and crunch-proof include, strawberries/raspberries in a zip-lock bag, Bonnie Bell light cheese, Polly-O light string cheese, a protein bar, or PopCorners chips or BYO popcorn - go for single-serve bags, portable and built-in portion control! If you can’t handle bringing your own goodies, then shoot for the lower fat, lower calorie sweets like Twizzler’s (a 2.1-ounce serving has 200 calories, 1 g of fat), Junior Mints (a 1.84-ounce serving has 210 calories, 3.5 g fat), and gummy candy (a 1.5-ounce pack of Gold-Bears has 150 calories, 0 g fat). Members of the “clean plate club” beware! These sweets typically come in king size packaging and portion control is a must.

For those that can’t do without popcorn, keep this in mind: Although popcorn can be a low-calorie, high-fiber snack, most movie theaters pop their corn in heavily saturated coconut oil. Typically, a small buttered popcorn at the theater has 630 calories and 1½ days worth of saturated fat. Some theaters are now popping with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, which is slightly better for your heart. Your best bet is a kid’s size (5 cups) without butter. The chart below may help you in making your decision next time.

Movie Theatre Popcorn Calories Total Fat (grams) Saturated Fat
Kids (5 Cups) 300 20 14
[with butter] 470 37 22
Small (7 Cups) 400 27 19
[with butter] 630 50 29
Medium (11 Cups) 650 43 31
[with butter] 910 71 41
Large (20 Cups) 1,160 77 55
[with butter] 1,640 126 73


As for movies at home, I would recommend opting for popcorn made with only real ingredients, not artificial butter. And don't dump an entire bag into a giant bowl - you'll mindlessly munch all night and eat a whole bag before you know it. Again, opt for single-serve bags or only pour yourself a serving or two from the big bag, and then close it up and put it back in the cupboard before the movie starts to deter yourself from having to pause the movie to get more. Some of my favorite popcorn brands on stores shelves are 479º Popcorn, Lesser Evil Buddha Bowl and Crunchy Rob's. Or try PopCorners - these popped corn chips offer a unique crunch using only real ingredients. Want that warm, fresh-popped sensation? Be careful when buying microwave popcorn because many typical brands use harmful chemicals. Instead try Quinn's Microwave Popcorn, made with only real ingredients in their Pure Pop bag, free of chemicals and plastic. 

Heather Bauer, RD CDN
Heather Bauer, RD CDN


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