Making Good Health Simple: Going to the movies doesn’t have to be a guilty experience

In this May 17, 2018 photo, McFarland High senior Victoria Sharp works at the food concession and is one of the high school students that acquired one of the coveted jobs at the Maya Cinemas Theater in Delano, Calif. For around a decade, the farm worker city of Delano, has lacked a movie theater. Residents from this largely Latino community had to travel nearly 40 miles to see the latest film a drive advocates say was rare since around a third of the population lives in poverty. This week, Moctesuma Esparza, a well-known Latino movie producer, opened his latest Maya Cinemas theater this month in the Central California city of 53,000 people as part of his ongoing effort to open movie theaters in poor, U.S. rural areas that lack basic entertainment options. (Henry A. Barrios/The Bakersfield Californian via AP)  Henry A. Barrios
In this May 17, 2018 photo, McFarland High senior Victoria Sharp works at the food concession and is one of the high school students that acquired one of the coveted jobs at the Maya Cinemas Theater in Delano, Calif. For around a decade, the farm worker city of Delano, has lacked a movie theater. Residents from this largely Latino community had to travel nearly 40 miles to see the latest film a drive advocates say was rare since around a third of the population lives in poverty. This week, Moctesuma Esparza, a well-known Latino movie producer, opened his latest Maya Cinemas theater this month in the Central California city of 53,000 people as part of his ongoing effort to open movie theaters in poor, U.S. rural areas that lack basic entertainment options. (Henry A. Barrios/The Bakersfield Californian via AP) Henry A. Barrios

This is real talk time.

A. Do you still have Halloween candy in the house? (Stashed in the freezer? Possibly in the cabinet above the fridge?)

B. Did you buy any post-Halloween-clearance candy? (I mean 75% off, what a deal!)

C. Did you steal some candy from your children when they were asleep or not looking for your own private stash?

If you answered “yes” or “unsure” to any of the above questions, you need to stop.

Just stop. Save sweet treats and splurges for special events – like going to the movies.

Speaking of the movies, did you say buttered popcorn and M&M’s? I have always loved everything about the movies. With the advent of reclining seats and my aching joints, I love it even more.

Trying to find the balance between having an enjoyable time and not coming home with a stomachache is something I have yet to consistently master. You’d be hard-pressed to find healthy movie theater snacks that aren’t packed with hidden fats and chemicals. So how do you go to the movies without breaking the bank at the concession stand and cut calories? Here are a few tips to enjoy your favorite flick at the cinema with a little less guilt.

Plan before you go

Trust me on this. As soon as you see the lit-up candy counter filled with neatly stacked boxes of your favorite treats, all bets are off (try to breathe through your mouth and avoid the delicious smell of the popcorn, because we know you will want all the things).

Hydrate hours before the movie. Not in the parking lot. If you chug right before the previews, you could potentially miss the most epic scene. New York City registered dietitian Lisa Hayim reminds us of the importance of water. Staying hydrated helps combat mindless eating, so pack a water bottle to fill up and plan other meals around the movie. “Remind yourself of your health and fitness goals and what the ‘movie food’ is actually made of (not real food!). Having dinner beforehand or planning a dinner for after is another good way to stay away from mindless eating.”

Smuggle in snacks on the DL

“Bring an energy bar, bottled water, pack of pistachios, a cheese stick or seaweed snacks,” recommends Mitzi Dulan, RD. More BYO snack ideas: pretzels, homemade trail mix and carrot or celery sticks. “This way you can graze and kind of check out mentally, without feeling like you’re missing all the movie fun.” I am definitely guilty of the oversized hoodie filled with pretzels and go-go squeeze applesauce. If you get caught, don’t mention my name.

Make the better choice

We can universally agree, popcorn is the OG movie theater snack, and it can be hard (for me impossible) to enjoy a movie without munching that salty (yet fulfilling) popcorn. However, movie theater popcorn is loaded with calories. Your healthiest bet is to get popcorn with no butter, (spoiler alert) since it is not actually butter.

If you’re craving something chocolaty, try going for some chocolate-covered nuts. These provide protein to fill you up and aren’t as unhealthy as other chocolate options.

According to Dulan, Raisinets are another good choice when it comes to healthy movie theater snacks. Raisins are super rich in antioxidants, which bumps them up a peg on the healthiness meter.

If you’re more of a gummy bear lover, Twizzlers are one of the healthiest options for you. Swedish Fish are also a great choice for those of you who prefer fruity gummy snacks. That being said, non-chocolate desserts tend to have a ton of sugar, and Swedish Fish and Twizzlers are no exception.

As our parents have always preached, “all things in moderation,” and movie snacks are no exception. Don’t be lured in by the free refills on the popcorn, or super-sizing to the 72-ounce soda for 20 cents more. Don’t sacrifice indigestion for an impulse buy. Stay the course and remember why you came – to be entertained by a feature film.

(Crystal Reynolds is an owner of 43 Degrees North Athletic Club.)

Author: Crystal Reynolds / For the Insider

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