At a movie theater, a lot of the stuff you carry away from the concession counter is a horror show in its own right. And it comes with a sequel: When you debut in your bathing suit this summer, everyone will know what you did last night at the movies — you overate, so now you overflow.
Not that I blame you, of course. I've been there, too. Engrossed by the big screen, too many of us fall victim to giant soda cups, popcorn buckets, and candy boxes, which are sneakily designed to keep the munchfest moving swiftly for the duration of the film.
One Cornell study showed just how thoughtless it can be. Researchers gave patrons different-sized popcorn buckets, and those with large buckets ate nearly twice as much as those with medium buckets. And get this: In some of the buckets, researchers traded out the fresh-popped corn for two-week-old kernels! Those moviegoers munched away so absentmindedly that they put away 34 percent more stale popcorn than those with medium buckets of fresh corn!
So before you plunk down your hard-earned cash for The Incredible Hulk, consider how you may come to resemble him if you mess up a lot at the concession stand. Here's where the real danger lies:
78 g fat (49 g saturated)
1,850 mg sodium
Yes, yes, it’s the custom; everyone at the theatre is eating popcorn. In fact, each American consumes more than 200 cups of popcorn a year, and it’s no surprise considering a movie theatre’s large bucket is 20 cups in itself! But snub the butter soak and you’ll save yourself from two-and-a-half day’s worth of saturated fat.
Large Nachos with Cheese (40 chips, 4 oz.)
59 g fat (18.5 g saturated)
1,580 mg sodium
This movie-time snack has more calories than two large orders of McDonald’s French fries. In fact, you’d still be saving fat and calories if you smuggled in two Quarter Pounders with Cheese instead!
Snickers Popables (5 oz., 46 pieces)
33 g fat (14.6 g saturated)
73 g sugars
The name's cute, but think about this: your chewy-nougat body in a bathing suit. The Snickers will be following you in two ways. The combined fat-load of these little popables is equal to two-and-a-half full-sized Snickers bars. So even if you split the bag, you’d still do better to down a real candy bar.
Whoppers (5 oz. box)
24 g fat (20.3 g saturated)
88 g sugars
How many malt balls does it take to run up a day’s worth of saturated fat? About 70, the number in a theatre-sized box of Whoppers. This candy's a long-standing classic, but so are fat-guy comedians. You want to join that jowly double bill?
44 oz. Cherry Coke
0 g fat
154 g sugars
The theater owners say it's all about convenience: They give you the super large size cup, so you won't have to come back if you want seconds. Oh, and they can charge you twice as much up front while they're at it.
That’s why movie-theatre cups (and everything else in the theatre) have grown to such mammoth proportions. This beverage, for instance, has 50 percent more calories than a half-pound of ground beef, and every bit of it comes from —yikes! — high fructose corn syrup. (For other drinks that will lay waste to your waistline, check out this eye-popping report on America's worst drinks!)
Large Soft Pretzel with 3 oz. Nacho Cheese
14.5 g fat (3 g saturated, 4 g trans)
3,068 mg sodium
The pretzel weighs in at 5 ounces, and it holds nearly 100 calories in each ounce of soft bread. Top it with a massive load of warm, trans-fatty cheese sauce, and you’ve got the plot of a disease-of-the-week movie.
This "snack" packs more calories than a proper dinner, and well over a day’s worth of sodium. If you buy one of these salty dogs, don't eat it: Just throw it over your shoulder for good luck. (Do the same with these saltiest foods in America!)
Want to avoid other foods that are wrecking your waistline? Study up on the 20 Worst Foods in America. By maneuvering your way around these gut-bombing traps — or better yet, growing delicious food in your backyard — you’ll be well on your way to a lean, healthy and fit summer!