Eating Healthy At Your Summer Blockbuster

By Kelli Swensen

summer-blockbustersImage Source When I was in middle school, walking to the movie theater every Friday was the cool thing to do. With $10 in our pockets, we’d all buy our student discount tickets, leaving us $4 left over to buy snacks. As part of the tradition, everyone would buy something different to share. There was always a bucket of too-yellow-to-be-real buttered popcorn, a king sized bag of M&M’s, and a large blue raspberry slushie that stained your tongue and lips an electric blue. I was never big on horror movies back then, but little did I know that the snacks I was getting at the theater were scarier than any movie. Like many people, if I’m expected to sit in one place for over 90 minutes, I’m going to want something to snack on. I did some research and provided some recommendations on how to let the film be the only frightening part of going to the movies:


One large, buttered popcorn has over 1,500 calories and more than 100g of fat

Switch: Pop at home. Newman’s Own and Wild Harvest make single serving sizes of popcorn that don’t contain a bunch questionable ingredients and aren’t soaking in high-fat butter.

Recommendation: I love sweeter popcorn, so instead of buying buttered popcorn, I microwave white popcorn and sprinkle on some cinnamon and a tiny bit of sugar.


Unfortunately for us, movie theaters only sell king-sized candy. What does this mean nutritionally? A 3oz bag of peanut M&M’s, for example, has 470 calories and over 42 grams of fat.

Switch: To still get your sweet fix, pack one or two miniature-sized candy bars or hard candy such as a lollipop or a couple of jolly ranchers.

Recommendation: I’m a sucker for dark chocolate, so I always keep one or two dark chocolate Hershey’s kisses in my purse just in case.


As delicious as slushies are they are loaded with sugar, and a small contains about 220 calories.

Switch: Do your teeth a favor and bring a bottle of water or a low-sugar beverage with you. Water too bland? Some sweeter options include coconut water, flavored sparkling water, or ice tea.

For Bostonians

If you happen to be going to the theater at Fenway or in the Common check out UFood Grill, a fast food restaurant that has some great portable side menu items:

Fresh Steamed Broccoli
Steamed Veggie Medley
Sweet potato mash

Other Munchable Options to Sneak In

GorpTrail mix (For ideas on making you own check out Eating Well’s Gorp recipe)
Fruit slices (Especially in the summer I love bringing a bag of frozen grapes)
Veggie sticks
Low-fat cheese stick with some whole wheat crackers
Rice cakes
Apple slices with a tablespoon of peanut butter

For more ideas check out Sargent Choice’s Smart Snacking 1+2+3 Chart


Tina posted on July 1, 2011 at 12:25 pm

I work at the Fenway theater during the schoolyear, so I know that they are now implementing the “no outside food” policy. If you are bringing anything from home or stopping by Ufood first, just make sure you bring a large handbag to throw it all in so that it is not visible.

Eric Hsiao posted on July 4, 2011 at 1:36 am

Hey Kelli!

Completely agree. I really started disliking buttered popcorn when I was like 14. At first, keeping away from these types of foods like the giant buckets of soda and king sized candy bars is hard to do but eventually I’ve found that your body adjusts so that you no longer want to eat this stuff. I’m not a big fan of soda anymore which means a lot less calories and high fructose corn syrup…gross

Huge fan of coconut water and trail mix at the theater…Now just gotta sneak in food to the theater…Also, I will definitely try out that Cinnamon popcorn. Sounds awesome!


satish posted on July 26, 2011 at 10:15 am

I agree with Eric that your body adjusts so that you no longer crave soda, buttered popcorn or other sugary stuff once you start eating healthy.

I love your popcorn idea. Another healthy way to make your own popcorn is just to buy dry corn from a store and put it in the popcorn machine without adding anything extra. It will still taste good.

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