A Guide to Diabetes-Friendly Movie Snacks

A Guide to Diabetes-Friendly Movie Snacks

Skip the soda and candy for healthier snack options.

Movies and snacks go really well together. Unfortunately, candy, soda, movie theater popcorn, and most of the other snacks on sale at the concession stand are foods you should be avoiding if you have diabetes. Candy and soda are, unsurprisingly, loaded with sugar. While small servings of air-popped popcorn are an okay snack, movie theater popcorn is not—even small sizes with no added butter contain high amounts of carbs, sodium, and saturated fats.

But just because you need to avoid these snacks at the movies does not mean that you need to avoid snacks altogether. Try these tips for healthier snacking the next time you head to the theater (these also work if you're streaming something at home).

Don’t go in hungry
Ever heard that you should never shop for groceries when you’re hungry? The same logic applies here. Brightly colored candy wrappers and the smell of freshly popped popcorn can be tough to resist at the best of times, and the urge to make an impulse purchase is only compounded if you’re arriving to the theater with an appetite. Set yourself up for success by eating a well-balanced meal before heading to the theater.

Skip the soda
Skip soda, and opt for unsweetened drinks like water, unsweetened iced tea, and unsweetened flavored seltzers.

Bring your own snacks
Policies about bringing outside food and beverage—and enforcement of those policies—varies from theater to theater, so use your best judgment if you decide to pack your own snack. If you are bringing your own snack, abide by common courtesies—be discreet, don’t bring in hot food, food that has a strong smell, or foods that are noisy to eat, and don’t make a mess. Try combinations of these snack suggestions:

Non-starchy veggies

  • Baby carrots
  • Sliced bell peppers
  • Pea pods
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Celery


  • Nuts and nut butters
  • Reduced-fat cheese
  • Pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds

Starchy carbs

  • Whole-grain pretzels
  • Homemade, air-popped popcorn
  • Baked tortilla chips
  • Brown rice cakes


  • Grapes
  • Strawberries
  • Apple slices
  • Blueberries

You might also want to look into snacks like roasted chickpeas, dehydrated green beans, or diabetes-friendly homemade granola, which would pack a mix of proteins and carbs. Be sure to check nutritional info, which will vary between different packaged foods and recipes.

Pay attention to portion sizes
Last but not least, portion out your snacks before you go. For example, if you’re packing something like almonds or roasted chickpeas, weigh or count out your portion size before you go to the theater, instead of taking the whole bag along—it can be hard to keep track of how much you’ve eaten while the movie is playing.

Medically reviewed in December 2019.

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