Truckers and owner-operators have continually struggled to find healthy food options on the road, and being able to maintain a healthy lifestyle is a growing concern. It’s not easy finding healthy options when so much time is spent behind the wheel. Choices are limited and determined by time, location, and convenience.
How exactly can truckers eat healthy while on the road?
Making just a few modifications to your diet can make a big difference in your quality of life. If you’re thinking about making some dietary changes but aren’t sure where to start, you’re in the right place. Take a look!
1. Plan your meals.
This means going to a grocery store and preplanning what you’re going to eat. Two rules that are easy to remember are:
- Shop the perimeter of the store.
- Stay away from processed, prepackaged foods.
You’ll need to read food labels to make sure what you’re eating isn’t filled with preservatives, sugars, unhealthy fats, and sodium. Here’s an easy guide to food labels to help you get started.
2. Not sure what to buy for the road? This list will help.*
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Lean deli meats and low-fat cheese (cheddar or swiss)
- Whole wheat bread and tortillas
- Nuts – especially almonds!
- Trail mix and granola
- Pre-rinsed bags of lettuce and a low-fat dressing option
- Peanut butter without added sugars
- Yogurt without added sugars
- Eggs (hard boil a dozen before hitting the road)
Yogurt, granola, and berries are a great breakfast, and you can make your own sandwiches, wraps, and salads for lunch and dinner.
*Some of the items on this list need refrigeration, so keep them in a cooler or mini-fridge, or skip them if that’s not an option for you.
3. Eat small meals regularly.
Eating small meals every 2-3 hours will alert your body that it doesn’t need to conserve calories, and it’s ok to use them. Eating regularly will also help keep your energy level up which is better for driving, and it will prevent the lull you feel after eating a big, fatty meal. Snack on trail mix, almonds, fruit, or veggies whenever you need a boost, and hard-boiled eggs are perfect when you need a quick protein fix.
4. Drink more water.
We now know that even mild dehydration can decrease brain function, so staying hydrated will help you stay focused while you’re on the road. Drinking more water can also help with weight loss, so make sure you stay away from soft drinks and energy drinks. Soda and energy drinks are loaded with sugars, and sugar can cause belly fat. Consuming excess amounts of sugar may also increase your risk for major health problems like diabetes, heart disease, and more. If you rely heavily on soda and energy drinks for caffeine, make the switch to coffee or tea and avoid adding any sweeteners. This will help you avoid those dreaded sugar crashes
5. Choose restaurants wisely.
If you’re going to eat out, just remember that not all restaurants are created equal. More and more chains are focusing on fresh, nutritious ingredients, so when dining out on the road, choose a place with healthier options. For example, try the burrito bowl from Chipotle with chicken, brown rice, and beans, but skip the sour cream. Stick with grilled chicken wraps from Chick-fil-A, or turkey subs on whole wheat from Subway…and then load ‘em up with veggies! Stay away from heavy condiments like mayo and opt for low-fat dressing or mustard instead.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is not easy when you’re a trucker or owner-operator. It is a growing concern given everything we now know about heart health.
If this seems daunting, just remember that you only need to implement one of these changes to make a big difference to your health. And once you’re used to that, you can make another one. Before you know it, you won’t even think about eating healthy anymore – you’ll just do it.