Sneaking in Healthy Movie Theater Snacks

Health Writer

If you walk into a typical movie theatre, the first thing that assails your nostrils is the smell of buttered popcorn.   Then you see the soda dispensers and the candy counter, where you can buy large-size sugary drinks, candies, ice cream, and, yes, popcorn.   Many moviegoers ignore the high price tag, after all, how can one enjoy a movie if not accompanied by gargantuan size snacks and drinks?   One day recently in New York City, that's just what a patron tried to do.

Michael Kass, a 41 year old who was recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, paid for a ticket to see the movie Divergent, at a local Brooklyn theatre.   He brought along some pre-washed berries, knowing that there were no healthy choices for him at the food counter.   The rules for food at a movie theatre are pretty clear - no outside food allowed.   But Mr. Kass assumed that in his case, the rules could be bent a bit.     Kass was nailed by the man who collects the tickets and told that he could not bring outside food into the movie, not even healthy food.   When Kass was refused a refund for his ticket, he decided to skirt the rules, and he basically slipped in with his berries.   The cops were called, he was hauled off, and a reporter got wind of the story.

Readers of the local paper, as well as local Brooklyn residents, voiced their disbelief and their unwavering support for Mr. Kass.   After all, this is the city that has tried to outlaw large sodas and banned trans fats, and instituted a city bike program and led the way demanding calories be posted in chain restaurants.

Needless to say, the owner of the movie theatre apologized (profusely and publicly) and he promised to seriously explore offering healthier snack options like frozen yogurt, a juice bar, and even fresh fruit.   In fact, he has decided to poll the local community to see what choices they would like to see offered alongside the traditional unhealthy fare.   People with special dietary needs will now be allowed to bring "special foods," I assume that means healthy foods, into this particular theatre.   Who knows - maybe Mr. Kass has started a slow movement that will build steam, forcing nationwide theatres to offer better-for-you foods alongside the nachos and cheese, buttery popcorn and milk chocolate candies.

I admit it.   I have for years snuck apples and dried fruit and nuts and air popped popcorn into movie theatres.   My kids have learned to actually enjoy movies with either no snack (if they are not hungry) or with yummy, healthy fare and water most of the time.   Yes, occasionally they got to share a candy treat or small popcorn.   After all, that's what a treat is - an occasional, special experience.   Most of the time though, I would bag homemade trail mix, or fruit, along with small water boxes into the theatre in a very large tote bag.   Yes, I know most movie theatres have rules, but, frankly, my family's health always came first.   And when my kids were growing up, we saw a fair number of movies during their formative years, so there would have been a lot of buttered popcorn and candy eating in the name of following the rules.   Around the time my kids hit their teenage years, independent and seeing movies on their own, some of the theatres in Los Angeles were starting to offer nutrition bars and yogurt cups, as well as free or bottled water.   It was up to them to decide if they were due a treat or a sensible snack while viewing the latest thriller.

As ludicrous as it seems to call the police for breaking food rules that basically demand that consumers buy unhealthy food or else, I'm glad it happened.   It got news coverage and it started a dialogue.   I hope it also starts a new trend - healthy, affordable food in movie theatres nationwide.   Well, the affordable may take time".What do you think?

Amy Hendel is a Physician Assistant and Health Coach with over 20 years of experience.Noted author, journalist and lifestyle expert, she brings extensive expertise to her monthly shareposts.Her most recent book, The 4 Habits of Healthy Families is available for purchase online, and you can watch her in action on her shows Food Rescue and What's for Lunch? _  Sign up for her daily health tweets or catch her daily news report at_