So, between low-fat, sugary candy, or high-fat, slightly-less-sugary chocolate, which should we choose? Ayoob said, "At that point, I'd say look at the calories [and choose judiciously]. Fortunately, boxes are going to have the information, [unlike] tubs of popcorn -- just be sure to check the serving size."
If snacking is a big part of your entertainment experience, one alternative is to bring your own. Sneaking in a more wholesome treat -- like homemade cookies – is something health-conscious and frugal patrons often choose to do. "The problem is you're usually not supposed to do that," Katz said, "you pretty much have to smuggle it in.
"The question is whether... we might start seeing those rules change... either they offer more nutritious food or make it legal for others to bring stuff from home," he added. "If consumers want something, they'll get it."
If this is the case, until customers start demanding healthier options, cinemas will continue offering "a day's worth of artery paste" per serving, the report writes -- so what's a peckish patron to do?
Don't go to the movies hungry: "If you're starving when you go to a movie theater, that's a trigger of overeating and this is not the kind of food you want to overeat," said Ayoob. You can shoot for a 100-200 calorie snack to tide you over, but "keep in mind, the movies is not where you go to get fed."
If rules allow, bring healthier options from home: if you can, bring a more reasonable treat, then, Ayoob adds. You can supplement with water or a diet soda to help you feel more full during the movie.
Make use of healthier options when available: though CSPI's report looked at candy and popcorn only, some cinemas, like Cinemark, now offer healthier options as well, such as non-fat sorbet, pretzel nuggets, and salt-free popcorn.
Share and keep a budget: "Fortunately, this is not what people eat on a regular basis," Ayoob said, but still, to keep things in check, "get the smallest portion, share with somebody, and remember it's a snack, not your meal."