Going to the Movies? You Can Have Fun and Still Stick to Your Diet
'Going for a movie this weekend’. These are the words I dread the most when I hear them from a client. No, I have nothing against watching movies — I am a movie buff myself — but it is the food that they invariably end up eating while at the movies that fills me with dread.
This is because it is, by default, unhealthy, highly calorific and sugar/salt laden; all recipes that make up for a diet disaster.
Very often, I see people undo all the good work done during the week. I consider going to the movies a diet danger zone, In fact, the moment they utter those words, I start getting images of samosa, popcorn, nachos, mayo laden chicken sandwiches, vada pao, with aerated drinks, iced teas, huge cappuccinos — and the list goes on.
Sample this: You can eat 400 to 1,200 calories' worth of popcorn that is essentially fried in one to three days' worth of saturated fat. Yes, a large tub of movie theatre popcorn adds up about 1,200 calories.
Two samosas will deliver close to 250-300 calories.
So what’s the solution? Is there any way to avoid or reduce the amount of mindless eating at the movies?
Of course, there is always a way around every diet pitfall. It just needs some focus and education.
• Eat Before You Leave
I never tire of repeating this advice. Whether it is a party, a wedding, an office dinner, or yes, even a movie, always layer your stomach before you go.
Tip that works: Two boiled eggs, a cup of soup, some sprouts, a couple of fruits — they all help take the edge off the hunger and resist the temptation to gorge on the unhealthy stuff later.
• Stop Mindless Munching
It’s dark in the movie hall, your mind is focused on the movie, so you don’t really register how many bites of the Pav bhaji — that you’re sharing with a friend — you have eaten. Ditto for the popcorn. There is no count of the amount you pigged on. This is a specific kind of movie hall eating amnesia that afflicts everyone, and this also causes a lot of damage.
Tip that works: Keep track of every bite that you eat, mindfully. That’ll help minimise the damage extensively.
• Practice Portion Control
If you must buy popcorn at the movies, get the smallest size (which is often a kid's size), skip the butter topping and split it with a friend. Splitting your favourite movie-watching snacks allows you to indulge without going overboard.
Tip that works: Eat to satisfy your taste buds, not to feed your greed. Also remember it’s a snack, not a meal.
• Sneak in Some Stuff
It helps to go prepared. If you have a healthy option handy, you won't be tempted to eat something wrong.
Tip that works: A small pouch of nuts, some seeds, some roasted fox nuts (makhana), or an energy bar can easily go in your bag, and help satisfy the need to munch.
• Drink Smart Too
Drinks add too many additional calories too. So it is important to make diet-friendly drink choices. A large soda contains hundreds of empty calories - anything from 150 to 500 calories. Plus they can make you crave salty snacks.
Tip that works: Most movie halls sell bottled water — the smartest choice if you want to eat and drink healthy at the movies. Another alternative is having fresh lime water, or some green tea. Also before you tear into that bag of potato chips, drink a glass of water first. People sometimes confuse thirst with hunger.
• Balance Out
If you do go overboard, then consider it a meal and don’t stop to grab lunch/dinner before going home. Once at home have some veggies, a bowl of soup or a glass of milk with a fruit. Basically keep it light for the next meal.
Tip that works: Also go easy on the salt intake for a day or two (you would have had 2 days worth of salt thanks to the popcorn), and also up your water intake to prevent dehydration.
(Kavita is a nutritionist, weight management consultant and health writer based in Delhi. She is the author of Don’t Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People (Jaico) and Ultimate Grandmother Hacks: 50 Kickass Traditional Habits for a Fitter You (Rupa).)
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