Welcome to Part II of our in-depth look at how truck drivers can stay healthy on the road. In our last installment of this blog series, we took an in-depth look at how truck drivers can control what they eat and how they exercise. And while trucking companies continue to make moves to provide gyms and exercise areas at the yard and headquarters, there is still more that can be done.
In the absence of exercise or cooking in the cab, what can truck drivers do to control what they eat? Nutritional value is important. And there are even fast-food restaurants that specialize in offering healthy options. Truck drivers should become familiar with these options and make efforts to acquire the food they need from these establishments while they are on the road.
What Are Some Healthier Snacks for Truck Drivers?
Healthy food for truckers is easier to find than you might think. Sure, truck stops are brimming with sugary, salty, and fat-filled junk food – from doughnuts to candy bars, potato chips to pork rinds. But just because truck stops have these options does not mean that truck drivers must indulge in them.
You can alter that trend by, you guessed it, making the right choices. What should truckers eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks? Here are some examples:
Got a craving? Healthier options:
- Dark chocolate
- Dried fruit
- Beef sticks
- Cheese sticks
- Popcorn Celery with peanut butter and raisins
- Protein shake – get a quality product with whey protein isolate
The biggest takeaway here is to bring your own healthy snacks. Nuts, preferably unsalted or lightly salted, are awesome. Dried fruit, cheese or beef sticks, and protein bars can be good, but be careful with the sugar content. Buying snacks in bulk helps you save money and decreases the urge to impulse buy at a truck stop when you already have easy access to a healthy option.
What Should Truck Drivers Eat for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and So On?
What we eat throughout the day is incredibly important. In fact, many consider breakfast to be the most important meal of the day. This is the meal that prepares you for the day to come. It provides you with energy and motivation for the day. But if you are not eating the right meals, the food you eat could actually sap you of energy and cause fatigue while you are behind the wheel. Let’s look at how you should approach your various daily meals:
Breakfast: The most important meal of the day is best when you mix proteins with complex carbs, vitamin-rich fruits with whole grains – such as any combination of whole-wheat toast with peanut butter, sugar-free instant oatmeal with blueberries, hard-boiled eggs with avocado.
Lunch: Keep lunch fresh and light but substantial and fortified with vitamins and proteins. Chicken with steamed veggies and brown rice is a great balanced meal. Also, hearty salads, healthy wraps, lean sandwiches, and even low-salt soups are great options. Shy away from sugar and fat-heavy salad dressings. Keep meats and fish grilled instead of breaded and fried. Try a natural fruit cup for dessert.
Dinner: This should be the smallest meal of the day. Take your cue from the lunch fare and perhaps add a burger patty alongside some quinoa, brown rice, or fruit. Indulge in some grilled veggies if they are available to you.
The question is, do you follow these recommendations while you are on the road? For many truck drivers, eating right and exercising is easier said than done. It does take discipline, but this is your health we are talking about. And when it comes to your health, your life is at stake.
Now, it’s time to take a closer look at healthy fast-food options for truck drivers. Believe it or not, healthy fast-food options exist. Many companies go out of their way to ensure health-conscious customers have healthy food options to choose from. Let’s look at these options in greater detail.
A Closer Look at Healthy Fast-Food Options for Hungry and Health-Conscious Truck Drivers
There’s a reason fast food has a bad reputation when it comes to health. It’s fast and cheap, which means usually it’s not quality ingredients cooked assembly-line style. Plus, to up the flavor quotient and appeal to the masses, you get predominantly fried food that is loaded with salt. This is bad news for everybody, but especially for truckers who spend days on the road and may not have many options for healthy meals.
Any trucker’s best bet is to buy the ingredients and cook his or her own food. But if that’s not feasible, there is a way to eat healthy at a fast-food restaurant.
Here are a few tips:
- Get chicken or fish grilled instead of fried.
- Substitute French fries for steamed veggies.
- Go for salads but choose a low sugar or vinegar-based dressing.
- Shy away from cheese because you probably won’t know whether it’s real or processed, low fat or high in saturated fat.
- Instead of a pepperoni pizza, choose a veggie wrap with hummus.
- Choose fruits and nuts over cakes and ice cream as healthy desserts.
How Many Calories Should a Truck Driver Eat?
You should talk to a doctor, but typically adults should consume between 2,000 and 2,500 calories each day. But what may be best for truck drivers is to forgo the usual three meals a day habit and opt for five small meals a day instead. This is super beneficial for your metabolism. For many, counting calories is a tedious task. Try to focus on the quality of your food. If you want to keep track, write down what you eat and how it makes you feel.
Even tried-and-true fast-food restaurants have healthy menu sections
Here are a few to choose from when you need a quick bite to eat and don’t have many other options:
Chipotle: The Mexican fast-casual chain prides itself in using local, organic ingredients. Their menu includes sofritas, which is minced tofu, plenty of homemade guacamole, brown rice, black and pinto beans, sauteed chicken, and bowls that allow you to skip the extra carbs in a tortilla
Panera Bread: Yes, there are a lot of delicious baked goods here. But they also have great salads or bowls that you can modify to keep it low calorie and low fat. They also feature some nice, healthy soups.
Subway: The great thing about the longtime sandwich shop is that you can turn everything on their menu into a salad. So, load up on veggies, choose olive oil and vinegar, and grab a couple of crackers for some crunch. The key is to avoid the processed meats and loaves of bread that come with their sandwiches. Ordering those options negates the health benefits you want to receive by going to Subway to begin with.
Chick-fil-A: You can make a healthy meal out of many of their options, particularly their grilled chicken nuggets, grilled market salads, and for breakfast a multi-grain oatmeal.
How to Eat Healthy as a Trucker Driver
Your best bet is to buy your ingredients and make your own food. If you buy your food on the road, know some rules of thumb – grilled instead of fried, salads instead of pasta, steamed veggies instead of fries, avoid cheese, pre-packaged sauces, and salad dressings, sugary doughnuts, salty and fatty potato chips, etc. Fruits and nuts are great snacks as well as awesome desserts. Oatmeal and peanut butter are essential to a protein-filled breakfast. Invest in a mini-refrigerator and a portable oven so you can plan and prepare your food for the long haul.
It is also important to advocate that your employer, whether it is a trucking company large or small, invest in your health. Recommend that they offer a healthy diner back at headquarters or invest in an onsite gym. Does the trucking company you work for offer a wellness program? If not, it may be in your interest to recommend that they do.
Whenever you advocate for healthier options, position them as being good for the company. Healthy truck drivers draw upon less health insurance requirements. They remain healthier for longer, which is better for everyone. Still, in the end, no matter what your employer does, your health is ultimately in your hands. Make the right choices and you’ll sure to stay healthy on the road.
We hope you have enjoyed this deep dive into truck driver health on the road. Keep these suggestions in mind and you’ll be sure to enjoy a long, healthy, and happy career and life!