We are sooooo busy. This is the 21st century! We have a lot of stuff to do! Blogs to write, soccer games to watch, smartphones to check every 3 minutes. Are we busier than we were in the 70’s?

Maybe…Probably. And we get hungry while we’re busy. So do we sit down for 3 meals a day at home like we mostly did in the 70’s? Probably not. We eat on the go. Takeout, pre-made meals, and snacks. A huge boatload of snacks.

Our away-from home food consumption is now almost 40 percent of our total food intake. 40 percent!!

It was only 18 percent in the 70’s.

We now spend nearly 50% of our food dollars on away-from home meals and snacks. HALF of our money! Ask your great-grandma how much she used to spend on food away from home.
And all that food eaten away from home isn’t grass-fed lamb and organic kale, that’s for certain. Eating real food in a moving SUV or on a bus is so totally inconvenient. Forks, dirty hands, fruit peels, plates, crumbs…messy, messy, inconvenient stuff.

And where are going to find a vending machine that sells local, organic apples or raw-milk cheese?

Maybe in Brooklyn…

So we pick up some “healthy” snacks. Stuff that says so right on the label. Things made from fruit, or soy, or “whole-grains”. It’s snack-time Foodiness all the way, that insidious doppleganger of food, pulling us down the rabbit hole, making us believe that its ok to eat veggie puffs and fruit gummies and soy bars to fill the real food void. It’s ok, we tell ourselves, we’re not eating doodles and nuggets and slushies, so we’re doing ok. The package says its good for us.

But it isn’t really. Foodiness marketing lies to us and tells us it’s something good, and healthy. The truth? Those “fruit” snacks are not made from fruit. They’re made almost entirely from the sugar derived from fruit. Those protein bars may seem better than a candy bar, but they often have more sugar than candy bars, and the protein is not nearly as good for you as the protein in meat, eggs or beans. As for those soy chips – the idea that soy is healthy is a big scam. In fact soy in chip form is probably not actually very good for you, and you’d be better off eating potato chips. Yogurt? Seems like you can’t wrong. Not so – most yogurts on the market are sweetened with corn syrup, are full of artificial “thickeners”, and you’re getting an insignificant amount of fruit that has been cooked to death and robbed of most of its nutritional value. And I hate to break it to you but there are no vegetables in veggie puffs.

But let’s get real about snacks. Eating real food as a snack is a tough one. Even I’m challenged, and this is what I do for a living. So for most people the answer is never going to be carrying around a baggie full of steamed broccoli in your purse or having locally grown organic peach juice drip down on your tie at work.

So how do you get real about snacks? Situationally always aim for something realer than less. Check out the 6 degrees of foodiness chart on this site and try to move up a notch with every snack. Dried apples are more real than an apple-flavored soy bar; yogurt with sugar is more real than yogurt with artificial sweetener; and almonds, which are full of protein, are definitely more real than a protein bar (and save yourself from 30 grams of sugar). You might even cook a meal one night a week and then take a bit of it with you somewhere. The point is to begin to make your way out of the foodiness rabbit hole…one real snack at a time.