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It’s hot outside, and it’s blockbuster season. That means heading to the movie theater might be the perfect way to spend a summer afternoon.
But if you think the cinematic experience isn’t complete without a pit stop at the concession stand for movie theater candy or popcorn, consider the diet damage you can do if you aren’t careful.
“The movie-theater-sized packages of candy may seem like reasonable portions,” says Amy Keating, R.D., a Consumer Reports dietitian. “But one box usually contains several hundred calories' worth of candy.”
Would you be better off ordering popcorn, that quintessential movie theater treat?
It depends. “If you get your popcorn without butter, you can actually eat a fair amount of it—almost two and a half cups—for just 100 calories,” Keating says.
However, a tub of movie popcorn typically holds a lot more than that. Sizes vary among chains, but a large unbuttered popcorn at AMC theaters, for example, contains 23 cups—that adds up to 920 calories, Keating says.
Portion control can be hard at the movies—you get so engrossed in the film, you just keep dipping your hand into the box or tub. One solution is to buy the smallest size and split it with a friend or two, Keating suggests. A junior-sized popcorn at Cinemark theaters, for example, holds about 5 cups and has 200 calories—perfect for sharing.
Or decide in advance to limit yourself to about 100 calories' worth of movie theater candy or popcorn, and tuck away the rest to save for a future treat. Use our chart below of 13 popular concession stand goodies to see what 100-calorie portions look like.
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