Forgetting Nutrition at the Movies

Going to the movies is such a go-to social option for many people (myself included). Whether you’re there with friends, family, or for that awkward first date, staying on track with your health at the movies can be near impossible.

Let’s first talk about the layout of most movie theater’s in your area. Of course when you walk in there’s usually the ticket station first. If you’re not buying your tickets from a human being and rather using the machines, it will ask you to bundle your movie with a “snack”. This snack is usually the calorie intake someone should be taking in an entire day and made to seem like you HAVE to get the bundle in order to see the movie. Because who goes to the movies without buying popcorn?

Next, it’s the endless variety of candies, popcorn, soda, nachos, pizza, frozen yogurt, etc… I’m pretty sure they’ve even introduced Starbucks, so it’s pretty much a small food court with the worst types of foods anyone could possibly eat.

The marketing of all of these products, as well as the “snack” bundles is very well done. All in eye-catching colours and flashy texts making it almost impossible to look away. Kids are now used to running over to the “snack” area after buying tickets not only because it’s what you do but the marketing they’ve done to attract children is incredible and absolutely ingenious.

So with the pressure of friends/family who go to the movies for the popcorn, the “idea” that you have to get food in order to see the movie, and children bugging you for snacks until you crack, it’s almost impossible to get past this obstacle and get to the reason you’re there in the first place: to see a movie with whoever you came with.

I’ve done some research on one of Canada’s largest movie theatre conglomerates: Cineplex. On their website, they do have a link to the “Nutrition and Allergen Guide”. Basically, it lists a few of the main things people get at the movies that don’t have calories listed on the package.

The PDF is less than informative and is actually left blank in some areas. They’ve also gone ahead and listed all the chains offered in their theatres along with what they offer and subsequent nutritional information. Click here if you’re interested in taking a look. 

Let’s get to the go-to snack you get at the movies: Popcorn. First of all, the portion size is huge, even if you decide to share. Second of all, they actually give you the option to add MORE butter to the already overly buttered and salted treat. Without any extra butter you decide to add, each popcorn comes in around 800 calories. Without even mentioning the added fat, sugar, and salt that contribute to your next heart attack.

It’s near impossible to find something with less calories to grab and definitely not possible to get something that isn’t loaded with fat, sugar, carbs, or sodium.

What’s the solution? 

Marketing ploys are there for a reason: to use knowledge about how people think and act and use it against them to sell products/services in the most appealing way. While it’s difficult to get rid of the flashy, eye catching and extremely appealing advertising of delicious and addicting treats offered in the establishment, we need to at least ask for some healthier options!

Give us some fruits, vegetables, crackers or pitas with dip. Give us a portioned size bag of nuts with our drink order. Give us the option to get something healthy while we sit and enjoy the movie with our friends/family. Stop making us sneak in food (probably more to save cost, but the movie markups are a whole other issue…) just so we can enjoy snacking on something while we sit there for hours. Give us a “healthy” snack bundle for those who care about their well being but don’t want to be the downer of the party by not being able to get anything. It’s not like their markup wouldn’t cover the extra cost of buying local healthy foods.

And if none of this is anything they’re interested in, at least portion size what you’re giving us. If we get a giant bottle of coke with a giant bag of popcorn while we watch a movie without even realizing were eating, it’ll be all gone before the movie even begins.