I am taking a break from “What’s This” this month to talk about something concerning me.
With the recent heat wave and being a movie aficionado, I have found myself spending more time in the movie theater. Being a dietitian, I know that I should not have snacks during a movie (being mindful of my eating), but there are times when we are rushing to get to a movie and have not had a chance to eat. Now typically I have a handful of nuts or trail mix on me, but I was feeling adventuresome and headed out to the snack bar. All I can say is WOW! I could not find one healthy snack! Staring at the menu board, my eyes were distracted to find a counter display with a “snack box” full of dried fruits, nuts and jerky. HORRAH!! I could not believe my eyes. Have the general population cried out to the theaters' and demanded healthy snacks?? I asked the manager who was standing behind the counter about this display and when the snack boxes started. He looked at me and said in a sad tone, “We have had these for some time now, but they were not selling so we are trying to get rid of them now”. Apparently no one wants to go to the movies and snack on something a little healthier than nachos, heavily flavored popcorn, or hotdogs. I was so disheartened by this. This brought up 2 very important questions: 1) Why are we as a society so inclined to eat such items while watching a movie, and 2) Why do we need to eat during a movie?
Outside of the obvious “I am hungry” answer to the second question, part of the reason we eat during a movie is due to conditioning. We all have done it. Mindless eating happens even to the best of us. The challenge is when we make it a habit. If we constantly eat something during a particular event, then that event will eventually trigger hunger and make us want to eat (thanks Pavlov!). To add to that, the choices we have available to us during that time are not the best choices for us. It is a horrible snowball effect.
Now granted there are those occasions when you need to have a snack because you didn’t eat before the movie (guilty as charged), but make those occurrences few and far between. If you do need to “snack”, try to do it before the movie starts and bring something with you! (sorry theater owners). It’s best to eat something to get you by (100-200 calorie snack), and then have your complete meal afterwards. Also, drink lots of water, the theater drinks are not any better! While standing at the theater counter, I was appalled at the “small” soda. It sure looked like a large to me!
Now, why do we eat such movie snacks? According to a brief Google search, people have been bringing in snacks since the movies theaters (nickelodeons) started. It wasn’t until the great depression when concessions were initiated. Theater owners were looking to make some extra money in order to stay in business and started allowing candy and popcorn vendors in the lobby. It became a part of the movie experience. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for a little treat now and again, but with obesity now being named a disease and this epidemic is on the rise in children and adults, we really need to be conscious of our choices.
So I say, if you are going to the movies, try to eat before you go. If you still feel inclined to snack, here are some snack ideas to take with you to the movies…shh, it’s out little secretJ
Healthier movie snack options:
Trail mix - Handful of your favorite nuts, some dried fruit, granola and some seeds. Pre-portion into ¼ cup servings.
Jerky – great convenient snack on the go.
String Cheese – if you are able to stop at the store or are coming straight from home, these will keep, but eat them first!!
Sliced Fruit and nut butter – Some nut butters come in individual packets now, slice up an apple and you are ready for a delicious treat
Cauliflower popcorn (courtesy of Pinterest) - Break a head of cauliflower into popcorn like, bite-size florets, and then spread them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spray the cauliflower lightly with butter-flavor cooking spray, and then sprinkle lightly with turmeric, freshly ground pepper, and sea salt. Bake 20 to 30 minutes at 425 degrees F or until the cauliflower is slightly browned.) (1 cup = serving size)
I love to share my knowledge about nutrition and wellness. Please feel free to contact me for topic requests.