It appears that I like to incur the wrath of many people when it comes to some parenting decisions (I will be writing about my views on gaming soon). Unfortunately, I am likely to annoy you and about 99.9% of the rest of the population today too.
Basically: We never have popcorn at the cinema and neither should you.
Ah yes, I thought that would upset you. Ok. Let me just say – of course it is YOUR CHOICE what you do at the cinema – what you watch, what you eat and what you drink. No one likes to be told what to do. Of course not. But please bear with me and read WHY I think you should maybe think twice about eating popcorn and chocolate at the cinema. Especially with your kids.
I have three points to go with it, that are all connected.. and it mainly comes back to our 1st World Problems of “being spoilt” and obesity.
But here in detail.
The Cinema is the Treat
Firstly. I think that going to the cinema or the theatre IS the treat. Why do you need a treat and ANOTHER treat? Going out with a family can be expensive and if you are watching a new release, it will quickly add up. So, I try and teach my kids that the trip IS the treat. Not what we eat or what toys they want to have (it applies to museum and theme park visits too – we don’t go to the museum to shop afterwards.. the day out IS THE TREAT). There are lots of parenting articles floating around about how today’s child is spoilt – they get everything, they do everything, they have everthing.
They get everything ALL the time.
When I was young, we maybe went to the cinema once a year.. not 3-4 times a year. The one trip to the cinema was the special occasion and the cinema itself was the treat. These days, kids (and MY KIDS included), go much much more than I ever did. When you go once a year, there is a sense of a occasion. That real sense of occasion is now often lost and a cinema visit becomes part of the norm. I think it is important for kids to understand that it is still a treat and that you don’t need more to make it special.
Another issue that our 1st World Society faces is obesity. What?I hear you shout in dismay, “A bit of popcorn isn’t going to make my child fat! Don’t be ridiculous! Have you seen my child? (S)he is rake thin and spends so much time outdoors. A little popcorn won’t do any harm.”
Well yes, you are quite right, a little popcorn won’t do us much harm. However (and this is closely tied to my next point), eating whilst watching TV or at the cinema is an unconscious event. We just stuff ourselves, because the food is there. We tend to eat much much more than we think we do, simply because we are not paying attention. And we are not savouring what we are eating.
Afterall, we are watching a film, which we are engrossed in. So why eat? Eating should be a “conscious” activity. A social activity, where family or friends get together and chat.
So I would suggest.. if you REALLY feel you need that treat as part of your cinema going experience – go to the ice cream parlor AFTERWARDS, sit down, spend time together and talk about the movie.
And have you noticed how cinema popcorn comes in biggest, hugest tubs? Probably 5x or more the amount your would consciously eat at home? Yes. That. It is wrong.
I have many a friend that worries about their weight.. and yet we go to the cinema and they eat tons of food – regardless of whether it is 11am (kids cinema), 6pm or 9pm showing. They are eating out of habit….. just stop. Don’t do it. I promise you will still enjoy the movie. If you can’t NOT consume something, I challenge you to take along a bottle of water!
…Habit Forming & Pavlovian Responses
To me, eating popcorn at the cinema is a Pavlovian response.. a little bell rings in our heads and we have to eat. Regardless of whether we actually feel like it or not! Don’t eat out of habit. Eat because you are hungry. And ONLY eat because you are hungry (re the ice cream palor above, have a coffee if you are not hungry, but don’t eat because you can).
I feel when it comes to my kids, I want to teach them GOOD habits – e.g. we only drink water at the dinner table. On special occasions there are juices. It means that my kids now actually only WANT WATER (yes they really do, and some times even choose water over a juice at the restaurant). Same goes for treats at the cinema. Why get them into bad eating habits? Why teach them to eat when they are not hungry? Why teach them to eat passively and not sociably?
I want my children to grow up to be healthy individuals. I do believe in cake and popcorn and crisps. And of course my kids get all these yummy snacks. But I also believe in, being aware of what you eat. Not eating things unnecessarily or “Just because they are there” or “need to be finished”. We are lucky that we live in the 1st World and for most of us “too much food” is the problem.
Let us appreciate the food we have and have a good healthy relationship with it! Let’s not eat out of habit.