How to Choose More Healthy Movie Snacks

Learn to eat fewer calories at the movie theater

healthy movie snacks
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If portion control is the key to successful weight loss, a ticket to Saturday's matinee could ruin your diet. Most movie watchers overindulge in high-calorie sweets and crunchy snacks that are full of fat - even when there are more healthy movie snacks available!

Of course, you're not likely to find healthy fruits and vegetables inside the cinema snack case, but you can find some treats that are (somewhat) better than others.

So how do you find the best theater treats to satisfy your sweet tooth and keep your diet on track? Here is my advice on how to choose the best healthy movie snacks.

How to Choose More Healthy Movie Snacks

We usually eat too much at the movies for three reasons:

  • We are eating in the dark, and it's hard to see the amount of food that we're consuming.
  • We are distracted by the movie and we fall into a pattern of mindless (over) munching
  • Everyone else is eating, and so we eat along with everyone else out of habit.

Knowing why we overeat at the movies can help us to make better choices when we're there. We can come up with sneaky ways to eat more healthy movie snacks by heading off these bad habits. 

Here are some popular movie snack calorie counts and reasons that they might make more or less healthy choices at the movies. Keep in mind that size matters! Each movie theater might stock different sizes of treats and candy, so be sure to check serving size before you indulge.

More Healthy Movie Snacks

While none of these treats is necessarily "healthy" they can be healthier choices for a variety of reasons.

  • Twizzlers.  A 45-gram serving of Twizzlers will set you back 160 calories. Not bad, right?  Of course, that's 160 calories of pure sugar, but because you have to chew this licorice treat, it may take you the whole movie to get through the pack. 
  • Milk Duds. The entire 85-gram box contains 370 calories. So is this a less healthy choice? It depends. Milk Duds are not low in calories, but it's a harder treat to eat because it's chewy and takes longer to consume. When you chew more, you might eat less.
  • Starburst. These fruits chews are high in calories. A large box provides 480 calories. But who can eat a whole box of Starburst? You're likely to eat less of this tart treat because they need to be individually unwrapped (in the dark), and they take longer to chew. 

Less Healthy Movie Snacks

These are the snacks that you're likely to eat quickly or overeat at the movies.

  • M&Ms . A large 5.3-ounce bag of M&M candies provides 210 calories. But this addicting movie treat is easy to eat, and you're likely to go through the bag quickly. Unless you know that you can eat this treat in moderation, I'd skip it and choose a more healthy option.
  • Junior Mints. Some dieters choose this movie snack because the cool treat seems like it would be lower in calories. But the big box that is usually stocked in the theater provides a whopping 340 calories. And since this candy is easy to eat, you may gobble the whole box quickly and go back for more.
  • Sno-Caps.  These tiny chocolate treats seem harmless, right? But a big 3-ounce box contains 360 calories. While that doesn't seem like a lot, think about the way that you eat them. They are too tiny to consume one-by-one, so we usually eat then by the handful. You could easily end up eating the whole box before the movie starts.
  • Raisinets. The movie-size box of this sweet treat provides 380 calories. Yes, technically it contains a fruit product, but that doesn't make it a healthy movie snack choice. Most of us eat Raisinets faster than we eat Sno-Caps. I'd ditch them for a chewier or lower calorie snack.

Healthy Movie Snack Tips

So how do you pick healthier movie snacks that are lowest in calories? There are a few sneaky tricks that I use to eat better at the cinema and keep my diet on track. 

  • Skip the popcorn.  Movie theater popcorn is way too fattening. Even if you skip the butter flavor, most cinema popcorn is popped in oil and loaded with fat. If you can't air pop it at home, don't eat it.
  • Work for your food. Find snacks that you have to unwrap. Why? Because it will take you longer to consume the food if you have to unwrap each item in the dark.  You'll end up eating less with individually wrapped treats.
  • Pack a protein bar. If you love candy bars, chocolate, and crunchy nuts or crispies, skip the snack bar and pack a protein bar instead. There are low-calorie protein bars that taste just as good as anything you'll find in the snack case, and they are better for your body.
  • Sucking saves calories. If sugary sweets are your favorite movie treats, then bring a lollipop or hard candy to suck on. They are generally lower in calories and take longer to consume.
  • Choose chewy sweets. Some movie snacks won't ruin your diet if you eat them in moderation. So how do you enforce portion control when you're distracted by a good flick? Choose foods you have to chew. Tootsie Rolls and Milk Duds are good examples.

So what's the best way to go to the movies when you're on a diet? Skip the more healthy movie snacks and the less healthy treats and enjoy your flick without food. But if you absolutely love to munch, make healthy movie snacks at home or use my guide to help you enjoy with less guilt.

*This article was edited by Malia Frey, About.com Weight Loss Expert

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