We love going to the movies. With the winter months coming and more theaters opening up, it’s a fun activity to do with the kids but we are always shocked and disturbed by the amount of junk food that can be found at the movies that are supposed to be considered a “snack?!” Buttery popcorn, large sodas, and large bags of candy are not and never will be snacks.
The problem is we don’t think about the damaging effect of these foods as we eat mindlessly in the dark for two hours. That’s not enjoyable or healthy and will often leave you and your kids with a stomach ache, headache, fatigue, and even feeling more hungry because you didn’t actually eat anything of substance. Junk is NOT and will never be nourishing.
What’s even more shocking is that you never find any fruits or vegetable insight or healthier options that people can choose from. All that’s in front of us is super-sized portions of soft drinks, sodas, and popcorn tubs that are addicting and extremely damaging to our health.
Children end up thinking these portions are “normal” (they’re not), but we don’t need to drink or eat this much. The American concept of the “bigger the better fails” and is completely not true, bigger is not better! But it doesn’t have to be the way. It’s up to us to be aware of Big Food’s presence in everything we do and change the way we consume.
Below, we’re sharing some of the worst movie theater offenders that we hope will help you to re-think what you purchase the next time you go to the movies.
- Popcorn: Popcorn isn’t bad in and of itself. It is literally just a corn kernel that expands with heat. Enjoyed with a dash of sea salt and you have a tasty, fiber-rich snack. The problem is most movie theater popcorn is LOADED with butter and artery-clogging saturated fat. In fact, the Center for Science in the Public Interest uncovered that “popcorn (at many theaters) is essentially fried in one to three days’ worth of saturated fat.” Many theaters – like AMC and Regal – use coconut oil which is 90% saturated. Many people then “top” this off with liquid oozy butter in super-sized portions. These tubes are also loaded with calories — around 960-1000 for a large) and sodium, ranging from 980-1000 mg for a medium or large.
- Candy: The movie theater is lined with rows and rows of colorful and sugary candies — many of which are loaded with artificial flavors and dyes. Not just the candy, they are often served in jumbo sizes for multiple servings — not 1 or 2 people. A typical box of candy will range from 1,100-1,5000 empty calories, plus the added fat and sugar. As we have mentioned, this leads to unhealthy cravings, causing kids to get addicted — wanting more and more and never being satisfied. This can also lead to obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and more.
- Soda: At the movies, families often get lured in to buy bundles of popcorn and with large sodas, filled with sugar and dyes. According to a recent Harvard study at the School of Public Health, “People who drink sugary beverages do not feel as full as if they had eaten the same calories from solid food, and research indicates they also don’t compensate for the high caloric content of these beverages by eating less food.” Additionally, it’s just bad for your health. The study noted, “routinely drinking these sugar-loaded beverages can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic diseases, including an increased risk of premature death.”
- Nachos: Liquid cheese that comes out of a bag is never a good idea. Typically, a small serving is filled with saturated fat and sodium — some as high as 1,060mg — and high in calories. Like the other movie foods, this snack provides no nutritional value or substance.
- Cinnabon: Another sugar bomb, Cinnabon has been dubbed “the worst food in the mall” with 1,100 calories and 47 grams of sugar! These horrible snacks are also found in some movie theaters that will literally do nothing for your health and will likely leave your kids feeling lethargic and irritable afterward.
So, what can we do? Avoid these fake foods and talk to your kids about why they shouldn’t be consuming these “foods” when going to the movies. Going to the movies is about watching a movie, not shoveling tons of fake foods. If they still what to, just make sure they go for smaller sizes, bigger is ΝΟΤ better.
The good news is some theaters are starting to make changes like Alamo Drafthouse where you can get salad and edamame or at the Gilson Theater where you can order a vegetable plate. Little by little, these changes can be in the mainstream if we show them how important it all is to us — and our kids.
The best way to fight is with our wallets while educating our kids about the misconceptions of the food industry, which is unfortunately all around us.