Healthy Movie Snacks That Won't Ruin Your Diet

Eat diet-friendly treats when you go to the cinema

healthy movie theater snacks
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Are you headed to the movies this weekend? If you're convinced it’s going to cause diet downfall, you're wrong. There are healthy movie snacks that won't ruin your diet. You just have to know what they are. It's true that going to the movies is a diet danger zone, but you can get through it if you're prepared with healthy treats and crunchy munchies.

Movie Snack Calories

Ready for some staggering statistics?

According to The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a large tub of movie theater popcorn provides up to 1,200 calories. That's the equivalent of six full-size Snickers bars or nearly four McDonald's cheeseburgers.

And you won't believe the amount of fat and calories you add when you slather butter on your snack. Most butter-flavored toppings added 120 calories or more per tablespoon!  When is that last time you measured your butter topping before drizzling it over popcorn? You might add a meal's worth of calories with just a pump or two of the flavored oil.

So, how can you enjoy your favorite flick and still fight fat? You know that the movies aren't nearly as fun without snacks, especially when everyone else is noshing away. So here are a few ideas for creative ways to keep your weight loss plan on track with healthy movie snacks.

Healthy Snacks for the Movies 

Before you head to the cinema, it's best to make a preemptive strike.

That's right. You should eat before you go. It's easier to avoid over-indulging at the theater if you eat a diet-friendly meal before you go.

Then plan ahead and pack a few satisfying, low-calorie snacks to eat at the movie. The key is to find treats that are both crunchy and creamy, so you don't feel denied while everyone else is munching on popcorn or noshing on chocolate.

Try the following suggestions:

  • Apple slices with the skin with some peanut butter spread on each slice. The fiber in the apple and the protein in the peanut butter make it more filling.
  • Raw veggies and some low-fat cheese cubes. Again, fiber helps you feel fuller and cheese is satisfying.
  • Reduced-fat cheese on whole grain crackers will keep your blood sugar on an even keel and hunger at bay.
  • Yogurt has enough protein for staying power, too; sprinkle some low-fat granola or chia seeds on top to up the satisfaction factor.
  • Kale chips are salty, crunchy and packed with nutrition. You can make them at home to keep the calorie count low.
  • Calorie-controlled snack packs of cookies, pretzels or chips. Make your own 100-calorie snacks at home or purchase them at the store. 
  • Nuts like almonds or walnuts are packed with nutrition and easy to carry. Just be sure to measure your serving size so you don't overdo it.

Healthy Movie Popcorn Tips

If you absolutely love movie theater popcorn, don't despair. You can eat popcorn and keep your diet on track. You just have to be smart about your choices. So how do you keep the calories in check? Pop it at home and carry a large purse.

Air popped corn is low in calories and easy to make.

If you don't have a popper, simply use your microwave and pop kernels in a covered glass bowl. Then add spices or seasonings for a burst of flavor. Sprinkle parmesan, garlic salt, parmesan, paprika or your favorite seasoning on top. If you like healthy sweet treats, you can even splurge and add mini chocolate chips and marshmallows and still keep the calories low. 

If you must buy popcorn at the theater, get the smallest size (which is often a kid's size) and skip the butter topping. Don't convince yourself to buy the largest size available just because it doesn't cost that much more.  CSPI warns that "moving from a small to a medium bag of movie theater popcorn costs about 71 cents — and 500 calories.

A 23% increase in price provides 125% more calories and two days’ worth of saturated fat."

More Healthy Movie Snacks

If you have no time to pack a snack before you go and you can't popcorn at home, all is not lost. You can still satisfy your sweet tooth with items from the snack bar. You just have to force yourself to ignore any and all candy bars Instead, choose candy with fewer calories like Junior Mints, Pepper Mint Patty, Gummy Bears, jelly beans and Tootsie Rolls. And split the candy with a friend. You'll consume just half the calories and make your movie buddy happy.

And lastly, make diet-friendly drink choices. A large soda contains hundreds of empty calories. And some experts even believe that drinking diet soda can make you crave salty snacks. So your best bet is water. Most movie theaters sell bottled water - the smartest choice if you want to eat and drink healthy at the movies.

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

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