MOVIE THEATERS FILL BUCKETS...AND BELLIES
Ready to sit back and enjoy the movie? Not yet. First, the theatre is hoping you'll stop by the concession stand for a snack. You know, something light...like, say, a bucket of popcorn with the calories of a Hamburger plus a Quarter Pounder plus a Big Mac at McDonald's.
Surely, no one expects you to sit through a two-hour movie with nothing to eat or drink. After all, you're burning dozens of calories in there, what with that leg crossing, shifting around in your seat...and reaching for some popcorn.
With all that activity, you can really work up an appetite, especially if you're still growing And, sad to say many adults are.
What's the healthiest snack to buy at the movies? You can go for 400 to 1,200 calories' worth of popcorn that ( at many theaters) is essentially fried in one to three days' worth of saturated fat. Or you can buy a package of candy with 300 to 1,100 empty calories ( plus at least half a day's sat fat if it's chocolate). Soft drinks dispatch another 150 to 500 calories to your thirsty fat cells. The best snack at the movies? No snack at all.
Or, if you're like me, (I know, it's a no-no to bring something in) I enjoy a snack from THE FRESH DIET. So many to choose from. Here are just a few of the savory and the sweet:
WITH 548 theaters in 39 states plus the District of Columbia, The REGAL ENTERTAINMENT GROUP is the largest chain in the United States. It pops in coconut oil, which is 90 percent saturated. ( In contrast, lard is 40 percent saturated).
Translation: A "small" popcorn (that's about 11 cups' worth) with no buttery topping has 34 grams of saturated fat. So even if you split it with a friend (unlikely), you each get nearly a day's worth of artery paste. And it gets worse from there.
A "medium" (20 cups) or a "large" (also 20 cups) has 60 grams of sat fat. Of course, a large means a free refill (YAY!), so there's no limit to the damage you can do.
Suggestion: Move your cardiologist's phone number to your speed dial before the lights go down.
Just kidding. It takes years to clog those arteries...and years for your blood pressure to respond to the salt shock (550 milligrams of sodium--a third of a day's worth... for a small and 980 mg for a medium or large.
The calories, on the other hand, may show up much sooner... and where you least want them.
Budget 670 for a small and 1,200 for a medium or large. You could think of each small as a Pizza Hut Pepperoni Pizza and each medium or large as two. But the two pizzas pack "only" a day's worth of sat fat--nowhere near the three days' worth in a medium or large popcorn.
How can a medium or large at Regal each hold the same 20 cups of popcorn? Simple. The taller medium comes in a bag with straight sides, while the squatter large comes in a tapered tub that's wider at the top. The tub sure looks like it holds more. Other than the free refill (shudder), why else would moviegoers pay $8 for a large (a medium is $7) ?
Another oopsy-daisy: According to Regal, a medium has 720 calories, while a large has 960 calories. Both are lower than the lab results from Nutrition Action. Oh well. What's an extra 200 to 500 calories when your snack hovers around the 1,000-calorie mark? They don't call them tubs for nothing.
TOPPINGS: For customers who think plain popcorn isn't soaked in enough oil, Regal offers a "buttery" topping. According to Regal and the topping manufacturer, it adds 130 calories to a small, 200 calories to a medium, and 260 calories to a large. Nutrition Action analyzed the topping to make sure it had no trans fats. But they didn't check to see how much topping the concession staff at Regal----or any other chain---adds. Odds are, it varies. And odds are, it's more than what Regal claims.