Here’s the list. It’s only 4 items long because — well, because it’s a tough category. But… unless you’re at one of those hard-to-find movie theaters where they offer actual food instead of “concessions” (as in you have to make all the concessions to eat them) — there really isn’t anything that can be recommended as a healthy choice!
The worst thing about this particular list (of the many lists published by Men’s Health and Women’s Health magazines and the Eat This, Not That publishing campaign — is that, in this list, they’ve fudged the serving sizes, and recommended nonsense that nobody in their right mind would opt to follow.
Here’s an example:
In the category “Worst Chocolate Candies” — they show an image of an M&Ms bag clearly labeled FUNSIZE (like Halloween treats) — then give the calorie information for a regular 1.2 oz bag. Neither the Funsize, nor the 1.2 oz example is the size sold by the concession stand in your local theater — they all sell 2.7 or 3.4 oz bags. Some even sell 5.5 oz bags!
Here are the stats:
10 g fat (6 g saturated)
31 g sugars
Why not just show a pile of M&Ms, and give the calories/nutrition per ounce, guys? You have to compare apples to apples if you’re going to make your name from these handy lists.
By comparison — the “chocolate candies” item the recommend in their “Eat this/not that” game is Junior Mints — and they recommend 1/2 a box (!) with these stats:
3 g fat (2.5 g saturated)
32 g sugars
The 70 calories difference in the swap is good — but you’re only saving fat calories — the comparable stats show no improvement in the amount of sugar. There is also no mention made of the kinds of sugar in these two candies — and effect of blood sugar or insulin impact. And because you are getting fewer total grams of “food” in the Junior Mints statistics — those numbers represent a smaller analysed serving. If you eat the same weight/volume of Junior Mints as M&Ms, you’ll end up with almost the exact same calories — but much more sugar in your system!
If you’ve ever looked for Junior Mints at the grocery store or on Amazon, you know they came in 3 different sizes — and none of those boxes match the nutritional analysis given in the article — if you eat the whole box! Once again, this problem would be solved by listing the calories/nutrition data by the ounce or gram.
They did acknowledge that chocolate with at least 65% cocoa content would be the ideal choice (go for 70%!) because it by definition would have 35% or less sugar — and would be loaded to the hilt with the superfruit-antioxidents of cocoa, but the list/article is supposed to be talking about movie snacks — and until the theater owners start offering dark chocolate — it’s a useless point
Unless the real point of the article is that start smuggling your own snacks into the theater….
The article lists nutrition stats for popcorn that are also plucked from the stratosphere.
Here’s the image they show:
Buttered popcorn (medium: 10-12 cups)
39 g fat (12 g saturated)
1,120 mg sodium
Yes, they do mention that some or all the “butter” (it should be illegal to call it butter unless it really is butter, don’t you think?) is really solid fats that have never met a cow — and are mostly trans-fats, partially hydrogenated oil, and kill-you-by-creating-a-hairball-sized-glob of solid waxy-fat in your arteries-type-fat.
And unless your theater’s MEDIUM is the size of a microwave popcorn bag — those numbers are too low.
And if you add the squirt-on type butter-flavored-grease-lard that we get when the concessioneer asks “Butter?” — those numbers are WAAAAY too low.
In short — for the first time, the folks at Men’s Health Magazine and Women’s Health Magazine have not done their due-diligence (homework.)
There is NOTHING in a traditional concession stand that qualifies as “good for you.” No matter how you cut it and how you fudge on the weights and measures, movie theaters sell treats, deserts, and indulgence.
If your movie theater lets you pop your own popcorn and use a small amount of healthy oil to do it; if they start selling real food so you eat 65%+ cocoa chocolate; if you eat grapes, or nuts, or apples, or clementines, or carrot sticks, or pretzels, or little chunks of cheese on toothpicks — then you can talk about good choices. Otherwise, go for the dill pickle.
A movie theater concession stand is an adventure in picking the lesser of 2 (or 102) evils.
Okay — maybe “evils” is overstating the case.
Maybe when you go to the movies, you should just throw out the expectations of eating something good for you — and go with the decadence. Unless you go to the movies 3 times a week, we’re not talking about a steady diet of any of these things, so once a month is not a huge impact on nutrition.
Okay — the trans fats in movie-theater popcorn really are unacceptable no matter how big or small the serving. You might as well deep-fry cigarette buts and toss them in high fructose corn syrup. But really — almost anything else you buy at the theater is only BAD if you eat all of it by yourself at once. Nobody is forcing you to eat a full half pound of Twizzlers or Gummy Bears. Learn to share. Learn to tuck them into your pocket or purse and eat the rest another day. Or just toss them.
My advice is:
- eat before you go.
- If you’re thirsty, stick to a drink. (don’t bother with their phony juice drinks unless your theater has gone rogue and stocked up on REAL 100% juices or milk.) Pick out what you really want — and order it in a reasonable cup-size. 16 ounces should always be thought of as “large” when it comes to sugar-based drinks.
- If you’re just itching for a treat — buy what you REALLY want — eat half the jumbo sized container — and then put it away.
- Go for the movie treats that take you back to good times and a happy childhood or past. Comfort food can be very — comforting and pleasurable!
- Forget the wagging fingers — and eat sensibly the rest of the day/week.
Don’t be fooled by lists that misrepresent nutrition, or people who want to impose rules on the most care-free times. And especially don’t take the word of anybody (ANYBODY) if it looks like they’ve got their facts wrong. Do the math for yourself. Do your own research!
If you’re diabetic, gluten-free, lactose intolerant, then you already know what parts of the concession stand to avoid. –Maybe it’s time the rest of us become as conscious and thoughtful of what we buy at the movies as those folks! If we do, then sooner or later the theaters will start offering better choices, because sales is all that’s driving them.
The word to keep in mind is MODERATION. Whether it’s treats, liquor, or taking time for yourself.
Be smart. And don’t let anybody make you feel guilty for enjoying fun times and good food.