Jackie Lynch shares some tips from her new book, The Right Bite to help you choose your cinema snacks.
There’s something about a trip to the movies that just seems to send caution to the winds when it comes to snacking. The usual suspects, such as popcorn, ice-cream and hot dogs, are high in sugar, refined carbohydrate and even trans fats which can make movie night a bit of a health minefield. Here are 5 quick tips to help you mitigate the damage.
- Start Sharing
You may not be a natural sharer and hate the idea of someone else picking at your food, but the cinema is one place where you might want to bend the rules, as it can make a big difference to just how much you consume in one sitting. You might run the risk of annoying your neighbours with all the rustling, but it can be a clever way of halving the potential calories and sugar intake, as long as you play fair and stick to your share.
- Avoid Sugary Toppings and Glazes
Sweet or salted, popcorn is a starchy snack that adds up to about 500 calories per small portion, so if it’s your preferred movie snack you need to tread carefully. It’s a smart move to steer clear of extra caramel or toffee toppings, as this ups the sugar content significantly and adds around 150 extra empty calories. Sharing is a very smart move here – a large popcorn (sweet or savoury) averages at around 1,000 calories, which is half the recommended daily amount for women. Splitting it between 2, 3 or ideally 4 of you could make a huge difference, especially if you’re a regular moviegoer.
- Opt for Frozen Yogurt
Ice cream is the ultimate comfort food and the combination of sugar and fat is highly addictive to our taste buds, which is bad news if you’re trying to watch your weight, as the excess sugar will go straight to your waistline. The Right Bite here would be natural frozen yogurt, and it’s easily available in most outlets. At 150 calories per 100g tub it contains less than half the calories of vanilla or chocolate chip cookie ice cream which range from 330-400 calories per 2 scoops. Beware of some of the fruit frozen yogurts – they may be lower in fat and calories than ice cream but they still contain the equivalent of around 7 teaspoons of sugar which won’t help your cause.
- Nachos Beat Hotdogs Every Time
If you’re wavering between the two, then opt for nachos. Hot dogs are highly processed and there’s really no room for manoeuvre to make it a healthier choice. Nachos may not be a perfect solution, as the combination of fat, sugar and salt in the tortilla chips is something we instinctively crave, which means that the more you eat, the more you’ll want to eat, but there is far more mileage in health terms if you’re smart about the topping. Avoiding cheese and sour cream and focusing on guacamole and tomato salsa could make all the difference. The avocado in guacamole is a rich source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and contains some protein too which will help to keep you going for longer, so that you’re less likely to get the munchies later on. The spicy tomato salsa is another smart choice, as it’s low in fat and full of antioxidants.
- Choose Your Drink Wisely
If you know there’s no way that you’ll walk past the food and drink concessions without treating yourself to something to eat and drink, try to limit the damage by being smart about your choice of drink. Indulging in a medium soda means you’ll be adding the equivalent of roughly 13 teaspoons of sugar to your snack, which is a huge amount by anyone’s standards. Beware diet sodas, as these may not contain sugar, but the long list of ingredients means that they’re highly processed and the artificial sweeteners they contain can trigger a similar addictive response in the body as sugar, leading to cravings and a possible sugar binge further down the line. There’s no doubt that the Right Bite here would be water – it would help your body cells recover from all the sugar you’ve consumed in your chosen snack, keep you alert during the movie and add no calories at all!
Jackie Lynch is a Registered Nutritional Therapist and runs the WellWellWell clinics in West London. Passionate about the importance of good nutrition for optimum health, she creates practical nutrition programmes suitable for a busy 21st century lifestyle. Jackie also provides advice and support for a range of blue chip companies, in the form of individual consultations for staff, nutrition workshops and menu analysis and has acted as a food consultant for brands such as Tetley. She is a regular contributor to the Mail on Sunday and the Net Doctor website and her advice features in a wide range of other national media. Visit her website.