Friday, April 9, 2010

Movie Theatre Popcorn

Tonight we took Josh to see Diary of a Wimpy Kid. He has read all the books and was excited to see the movie. Just an FYI. If you are a middle schooler, it's probably pretty cool/funny. If you aren't -- not so much. I digress.

Before we left, I knew I would be tempted by the popcorn. I really enjoy some movie theatre popcorn. AND THEN .... I had my eyes opened.

A quick Google search showed that a medium movie-theatre popcorn (between 11 and 16 cups) with butter boasts a whopping 67 fat grams. Holy smokes.

I found this article interesting, and thought you might as well:

Researchers sent samples of popcorn and toppings from three different theaters belonging to each of the chains to an independent lab for analysis and compared their findings to the chains' own nutritional information.

The results showed Regal's medium and large popcorn packed the biggest punch, with each containing 20 cups of popcorn, 1,200 calories, and 60 grams of saturated, artery-clogging fat. That's the equivalent of two Pizza Hut Personal Pan Pepperoni Pizzas, plus an extra two days' worth of saturated fat.

According to Regal, the medium contains 720 calories and the large has 960 calories, but the CSPI found both the medium bag and large tub containers held the same 20 cups of popcorn with the higher calorie count.

AMC's 16-cup large popcorn tub didn't fare much better, weighing in at 1,030 calories and 57 grams of saturated fat.

Both Regal and AMC popped their popcorn in coconut oil, which contains 90% saturated fat.
Cinemark earned kudos in the report for being the only major chain to pop their popcorn in non-hydrogenated canola oil. As a result, their popcorn offerings contained only a fraction of the saturated fat content of the others, ranging from 2 grams in the 420 small size to 5 grams in the 910-calorie large popcorn bucket.

All of the chains used a similar "buttery" non-hydrogenated soybean oil topping that adds about 120-130 calories per tablespoon. Some Cinemark theaters also offer a real butter topping that adds 9 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon.

Even without the buttery topping, researchers found movie theater popcorn is seasoned with an unhealthy dose of salt. Sodium levels ranged from 210 milligrams in the smallest 6-cup offering from AMC to a
heart-stopping 1,500 milligrams in the large tub from Cinemark. That's an entire day's worth of sodium before the credits roll.

After reading this, I couldn't have enjoyed the popcorn anyway, so I popped a 100 calorie bag of popcorn, threw it in a Ziploc bag along with a 100 calorie pack of chocolate covered pretzels and went on my way. I wasn't tempted at all because, honestly, I think it's more about the habit of eating something at a movie theatre than what I'm actually eating. The 100 calorie popcorn was fine and I didn't miss the other.

We took Ellie and she had a "goodie bag" of her own as we don't let her eat popcorn. She had some pretzels, a few Skittles and some 100 calorie chocolate chip cookies. They lasted her the entire movie and she was happy. She was such a good girl during the movie. It's her second one and I was so impressed. Of course, we did a matinee so there wouldn't be a lot people there and we sat on the front row of the middle section so she could walk around in front of us if she wanted and she could see well. I was just amazed at how well she behaved.

Afterwards, we headed to IHOP for a late dinner (after some double coupon shopping at KMart, thank you Coupon Queen Kelly for the head's up) and I was pleased to be able to find an alternative/more healthy menu with some nice options. I ended up with the scrambled Egg Beater eggs, turkey bacon and some whole wheat French toast with sugar free syrup. Honestly, I couldn't tell any difference than what I normally eat except that this meal had only 570 calories, 14 grams of fat and approximately 12 points as opposed to the choices I would have normally made. Since I had not eaten a lot during the day, I felt ok "splurging" a little on a higher calorie/fat meal.

Day four is in the books and I'm still feeling pleased with my choices. Now the weekend is upon us so we will see how that goes. I'm headed to the grocery store tomorrow (on a full tummy and armed with coupons) to stock up some healthy, quick, easy, tasty food.