Inside the Chaos: How to Eat Healthy on a Movie Set

movieset3.jpgby Kierston Drier

We’ve all been there.

You know what I am talking about the great divide that is your health and the workplace. It’s no different for the industry of film and television. Oh wait… yeah it is. Juggling health, cost and time is always a hassle. And let’s not forget those five to ten servings of fruits and veggies followed by that roughly 90 minutes of cardio at least once a week.


Long working hours

You’re probably working a 12-hour day plus lunch and commuting. So lets round that up at a 15-hour day. (One hour lunch, plus approximately one hour in commuting each way.) Add an average eight hours for sleeping  (and yeah, who REALLY gets that much?!) and you have “drum roll please” one extra hour in your day! One whole hour to do everything else in your life like showering, checking emails, paying bills, answering personal calls, seeing your friends and/or family, maybe unwind with a glass of wine and somewhere in there maybe fit in some step aerobics.

High Stress- High Energy Job

Any job on set is usually specialized, and there’s normally a lot of pressure on set “get the right shot, meet a deadline, hit your mark, and do it all with a smile on your face.” Regardless, while life in production has a lot of hurry-up-and-wait, and standing around, it definitely makes up for it in the times when it is go-go-go and totally hectic.


Almost constant access to food

Enough said. Between catered meals and craft tables, on any show above a student-level film, you will likely at least be fed.

The great debate is how to manage hunger, boredom and hectic lifestyles with the constant access to food of all kinds around you!

I’m not a nutritionist, a dietitian, or even someone who claims to be super healthy, but here’s how I break down a (fairly) guilt-free day of set-snacking. While set calls vary by show, I used a standard 12+1 hour daytime schedule.

4:40 a.m.– I’m up and out the door for a 6 a.m. call. I’ve showered the night before, check my emails on the streetcar, and grab a 1/2 a banana on my way out to jump start my metabolism, wake me up and follow my grandmothers’ advice (“never skip breakfast!”).

6 a.m.- My actual call time. Hopefully your crafty is on set and has the basics out, which hopefully includes the “hot and ready” breakfast. If you have this luxury, I advise to take advantage of it. I always vouch for a high-protein option to fill me up. Eggs and bacon are my go to if I have them, but for vegetarians and vegans look for oatmeal or a granola with non-dairy milk.

8:30-9 a.m.– Sometimes you miss breakfast, and sometimes you only get the tiniest bite before you have to run off! Regardless, three hours into call, craft services should at least have the two Big C’s: coffee and carbs. In my opinion, this is the time (if you have it) to grab something carb heavy. You have the whole day to work it off, and it will keep you from being super hungry later. I’m a morning person, so I usually skip the coffee and grab some more fruit: pineapple, cantaloupe, fresh berries with maybe a small yogurt, will keep me going. Note: Also, now would be a good time to grab a bottle (or two) of water!

11 a.m.- If I’ve missed my chance to grab food, this is when I’ll grab coffee number one. As a personal rule I don’t add sugar to any beverage; sugar wiggles its way into so much food on set, I do what I can to limit it when I have the option. I usually grab a coffee with a non-dairy option (almond, rice, or soy milk). If a sub is going out I ask myself this system of questions to decide if I take the AM sub or not: Am I hungry? Do I really want this sub? Is it better to have something smaller now (like a piece of fruit) knowing lunch is coming?

1 p.m.- Usually lunch time! I fill up my plate accordingly:

1/4 plate: Hot veggies (Steamed green veggies like green beans, broccoli, asparagus, etc.)

1/4 plate: Cold veggies (Raw veggies, salad greens, mixed salads, marinated veg salads, whatever they have)

1/4 plate: Starches (Baked yams, squash or rice. You can also do pasta or potatoes!)

1/4 plat: Protein. (There is usually a vegetarian protein option, but I often go for the leanest meat I have access to. Chicken or lamb are good options, as is fish!)

Note: Remember to grab a beverage! My recommendation: water.

3 p.m.- This is when I get coffee. And I might take this opportunity to indulge with chocolate, a cookie or maybe even a handful of potato chips. If you’re really conscious about eating healthy, can those indulgences and reach for the trail mix, some raw veggies or fiber-filled fruits that will fill you up and keep you full!

5 p.m.- I’m usually not hungry around now, but if you are, grab a handful of one of the treats mentioned above! Try hummus and crackers, raw veggies or a banana/apple/pear, or even soup if the crafty has prepared some. Also, don’t forget to stay hydrated with maybe another glass of “dare I say water.”

7 p.m.- If all goes well, by now I am wrapped and on my way home. I try to use my time to my advantage “I check my emails on the bus”, and, if I catch craft in time before they leave, I’ve filled a thermos with a sugarless herbal tea to drink on the way home.

9 p.m.- Of course as it would have it, now I’m hungry, but trying to be good, I’m likely to grab something like cheese and crackers, hummus and crackers, soup I’ve made at home or even a bowl of popcorn. When I get home I usually make a snack, hop in the shower, call a friend or family for a brief chat, then put my feet up for 20 minutes and read or noodle around the internet until sleep time, at say 10:45 p.m.

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