Just before I continue the discussion about the body’s Set Point in relation to our weight and how important it is to understand how it works when we’re talking about weight loss, I would like to share a couple of interesting observations I made about people’s eating habits while I was at the movies with my daughter last night.
It had been some time since I had been to our local cinema so the very first thing I noticed was that it had been very nicely refurbished and that the layout of the ticket and candy bar area had been changed.
After collecting our tickets, the only path to each of the individual cinemas in the complex was to go through the candy bar area whereas before, you could choose whether you wanted to go to the candy bar or whether you went directly to your seats in the cinema.
Of course, as you walk through the candy bar area now, you can’t help but smell the enticing aroma of freshly popped popcorn that filters every molecule of air that you breath. You also can’t help but notice the walls loaded with brightly colored candy on display with these clever auto dispensers alongside the self serve multi-colored frozen drinks and the self serve choc tops and other ice-creams as you walk through.
If that wasn’t enough, I found myself apologizing to a 6 foot high confectionary stand loaded with big packets of Maltesers that I momentarily mistook for a person when I turned and accidently bumped into it. What I realized was that there were a number of these confectionary stands strategically placed around the candy bar area so that you had to weave in and out and around them on your path through the candy bar area to all of the cinemas in the complex.
Though I have to admit that the smell of freshly popped popcorn was definitely tempting, given that we had just finished our dinner and were comfortably full, I assumed we would simply continue through the candy bar area towards the cinema. However, that was not to be as my daughter decided that she wanted popcorn as well as a frozen drink. Now, even though she selected the smaller serving of both the popcorn and the frozen drink, they were far from the typically small servings we’re used to receiving elsewhere – they were huge!
We finally made it through the candy bar maze and to our seats with just enough time before the feature movie commenced. During the course of the movie, I took a moment to look around the cinema and noticed that at least 95% of the people present each had popcorn, ice cream and/or a frozen drink. Not only that, most had large servings of each, like a bucket size of popcorn and a frozen drink container that could easily last a week!
Given the time of evening that it was, it was a pretty sure bet that most, if not everyone had already had their evening meal so my guess was that no one was really hungry when they arrived at the cinema. Yet the majority of movie goers were loaded (or should I say ‘overloaded’) with treats that they purchased and consumed … on autopilot, i.e., without thinking and probably without even savoring what they were putting in their mouth – it just looked like their arm action from bucket and straw to mouth was robotic and automatic as their eyes were totally transfixed on the screen.
After the movie, even though I was pretty sure of what the answer was going to be, I asked my daughter why she had purchased the popcorn and frozen drink in the first place and why she ate and drank it all even though she had already had a hearty meal. Her answer …
‘It’s just what you do when you go to the movies, everyone does it! Plus it wouldn’t feel right sitting there without munching on popcorn throughout the movie”
I would say this would be the stock standard answer I would have received had I also asked everyone else.
So What Is Really Going On?
There are number of things going on here that most people do not stop to think about or even realize.
- Firstly and quite obviously, freshly popped popcorn, frozen drinks, choc tops and other confectionary have become ‘the norm’ at the movies and therefore quite expected. As such, these candy bar items are ‘associated’ with movie going. Now, unlike having to buy a ticket to see a movie, you don’t have to buy candy … but most do, whether they are hungry or not, whether what they’re eating and drinking is healthy or not, and more often than not, they purchase and consume these treats without thinking – it seems both a ‘normal’ and ‘expected’ thing to do and has become an automatic response and habit.
- Make no mistake, the combined efforts of food manufacturers, marketers and in this case, management of the cinema complex, know exactly how to entice all of your senses to get your mouth to water and your wallet to open, even when you’re not hungry. If it isn’t enough that we have been conditioned by association to buy these ‘goodies’ when we go to the movies, the food industry makes sure we buy their products – everything from packaging, placement, lighting, music and particularly the smell of popcorn in this case is strategically calculated and applied to ensure they make a profit, and a big one at that (in fact, more than what they make in ticket sales !) – all you need to do is check out the candy bar prices! Not even the high prices stop people from buying oversized servings that their bodies just don’t need.
These are just 2 of many things that are actually going on in this and many other scenarios . There are many more which I will discuss in future blog posts, particularly about the psychological aspects about how, why, what and when we eat that has a big impact on whether or not we are able to lose weight and keep it off.
That’s all for now. Keep an eye out for the continuing explanation about your Set Point in the next blog post … but just before I go, I’m curious … if you’re one who usually buys treats from the candy bar before the movie, the next time you go:
- Will you be able to make a conscious decision to simply sit and watch the movie without any of these treats from the candy bar?
- If so … would you be comfortable doing so?
Looking after your bottom line … your waistline, your health and your lifestyle!