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Nutrition Articles  ›  Eating Away From Home

What SparkPeople Coaches Eat at the Movies

Enjoy the Show Without Blowing Your Diet

-- By SparkPeople Editorial Staff
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Going to the movies can be an enjoyable experience, but it can provide a host of temptations for anyone trying to lose weight or eat healthier. As soon as you walk in the door, you're hit with the smells and sights of delicious goodies--buttery popcorn, boxes of chocolates, cheesy nachos--the list goes on and on. So how do you enjoy the show without succumbing to the tempting treats? We recently asked SparkPeople's coaches how they handle--or avoid--movie theater temptations. Find out which of their strategies could work for you.

Chris Downie, Author, motivation expert and SparkPeople founder
"We often have 'family night' with our boys where we eat a healthy dinner while watching a movie with the lights low or off and then have fairly healthy homemade popcorn."

Becky Hand, Registered and Licensed Dietitian
"My son and I share a unbuttered popcorn. I usually bring a bottle of water."

Nancy Howard, Certified running coach and SparkPeople Community moderator
"I make sure I eat before I go so I will not be tempted."

Tanya Jolliffe, Healthy eating expert and SparkPeople Community moderator
"I almost never get treats at the movies. My husband and I came from families of six, and our parents would feed us before we went to a movie because it was just too costly to purchase tickets and snacks for all. My husband and I have continued to follow this same practice and eat before we go to the movie so we don't need a snack."

Jen Mueller, Certified personal trainer and SparkPeople Community leader
"My husband and I pick a small serving of candy from the 'pick-a-mix' station. That way we can pick exactly what we wanted and control the portion. Otherwise I end up feeling sick after the movie because I ate a giant box of Milk Duds."

Nicole Nichols, Certified personal trainer and SparkPeople editor
"When I was overweight in the past, I looked for any excuse to eat more food and to eat all the wrong kinds of food. I'd tell myself, 'You can't watch a movie without candy!' and consume thousands of calories worth of sugar each time I popped in a video or went to the theater. I had to re-train myself as I learned to eat more intuitively and lose the weight. For a long time, I consciously chose to not eat movie snacks even though I wanted them. It paid off and now I don't always associate an outing like a movie with food, nor do I feel like it's a must or that I'm depriving myself if I don't get it. These days, I probably enjoy movie treats 1/3 to 1/2 the time I watch a movie at the theater. It all depends on my choices for the day and whether I TRULY want something. My love of Twizzlers runs deep, so they are my candy of choice. I don't like movie theater popcorn (never have) or soda, but I love candy and will usually get that when I'm in the mood for it--as long as I've made healthy choices that same day or the days prior. It's all about moderation!"
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Member Comments

  • No problem. We just eat our planned meal before going to the movie and don't eat or drink anything there. There is no law that says you have to eat while watching a movie. - 6/22/2014 10:58:36 AM
  • I smuggle in a bag of Orville Redenbacher Smart Pop butter flavor (if my husband is going to get a snack) I don't feel guilty because my husband buys enough snacks for two people. If hubs isn't in the mood for a snack neither of us eats anything. - 12/2/2013 8:38:31 AM
  • I don't go to the movies very often, and part of going to the movies is the experience, which for me includes popcorn. I order a Junior Size without butter (it may not be on the menu, but all theaters offer this very small size--just ask for it) and bring my own bottle of water, which is always my preferred drink. My daughter slips a one-serving size of nuts or trail mix into her pocket sometimes, or just takes a couple pieces of sugarless gum with her. Me, I need popcorn. Also, check online, you'll find all the major theater chains list the calorie/nutrition info for each size of their popcorn, such as this one:

    Movie Popcorn - Junior (Cinemark Theater)
    Serving Size: 1 Junior bag (38g), Calories: 200, Fat: 11g, Carbs: 22g, Protein: 3g
    - 6/11/2013 9:20:45 PM
  • I bring my own in baggies and bring a protein bar and water. Problem solved! - 6/11/2013 5:15:38 PM
  • I, too, was hoping for suggestions on what to have AT the movies rather than "I don't take anything.:" ... I mean, I go to the movies MAYBE once a year to be honest, so when I'm there I do want something... usually I get a diet soda and try to limit the damage on the popcorn.. lol...... I actually LEFT some the last time and that is the first time that's ever happened to me.

    Was reading this article hoping to find good suggestions because I'm going to go see "Spirit of the Marathon 2' tomorrow. Hubby and the kids aren't interested, so I'm going solo... Gotta remember my tissues! - 6/11/2013 4:09:43 PM
  • Some theaters now search bags. It's a pain. I was hoping this article might give more suggestions for things they have there.

    I don't always sneak a snack or a drink in (The drink is my most common offense), but I will ask for a refund of my ticket before I will let anyone for through my bag. They are not the police and don't have a warrant, you are not going through my personal property. Movie tickets are outragously expensive and the snacks are too.

    I normally get the kid's pack, but that little cup is not enough drink for me anyway. - 6/11/2013 3:36:50 PM
  • It doesn't really make sense! If you say what you have for snacks at the movies, I was expecting more a type of article with suggestions about it, and not one in which all the coaches say they bring nothing, and leave you feeling like they are superhuman and obviously you are not! - 6/11/2013 3:15:23 PM
  • I'm with Coachb Nichole! Twizzlers.. - 6/11/2013 3:01:53 PM
  • So what about the theaters that refuse to let you bring outside food? One here will acctually ask to search your bag if it's a big one, or a back pack.

    Small popcorn, no butter, shared with the husbeast. That's usually good for me. - 6/11/2013 2:50:40 PM
  • I bring a couple of sugar free candies with me. I usually suck on them during the movie, and then I'm satisfied. - 6/11/2013 2:21:04 PM
  • SO glad this was today's article--Thank you, thank you , thank you!!!
    During the summer they have free kids movies, and it's only $1 for adults, so my daughter and I go, it breaks up the summer a bit, and is air conditioned. But oh the temptation is great, lately we have been sharing a small popcorn, and getting drinks--she gets apple juice, and I get a bottled water--and bring my own flavoring to put in. It is a family owned theater--and I have requested that they offer a few healthy snacks, they are looking into adding bags of almonds, gold fish, and fruit snacks--not the healthiest I know, but way better than candy=) - 6/11/2013 2:06:23 PM
  • AZURE-SKY
    How many people can't go without eating for 2 hours?

    Snacking at the movies is just a habit, and it's where the movie theater makes most of its money. The movie theater overcharges for candy, drinks, snacks, and the popcorn is often stale.

    When I go to the movies, I take a bottle of water. I don't get hungry during the movie, so why eat? - 6/11/2013 12:04:16 PM
  • In the past, one of my favorite things to bring to the movies was a sandwich-sized baggie of grapes (frozen in the summer). They don't have a strong smell, aren't noisy and I could measure out a one cup portion. My daughter works at a movie theater now, so I'm less inclined to 'break the rules' and bring in my own snack. When she treats us to a movie, (she gets free passes) she and her dad (my DH) will split a large popcorn and frozen coke. I like to get my own kid's pack (small popcorn, drink and single portion serving of Sourpatch kids). That way I'm more in control of what I'm eating at the movies. - 6/11/2013 11:28:10 AM
  • If we do get anything, my family of three splits a large popcorn. One of my adult friends gets a kids snack pack for herself, which I think is a good idea--a little popcorn, a little candy, and a little drink. The concession people have never questioned whether she actually had a kid, either. ;) - 6/11/2013 10:53:46 AM
  • JUULEE
    So am I the only one who can go for two hours without food then ? :-)) - 6/11/2013 8:28:25 AM