Healthy Meal Choices for Truck Drivers

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Over the road trucker and healthy diet. No, this is not a game of “What Two Things Don’t Go Together.” It’s a serious subject, and it’s getting more critically important. Statistics are telling us that the stereotype of the overweight driver with “trucker gut” isn’t a myth. Recent statistics show that 80% of over the road truck drivers are overweight and a whopping 50% are sliding into the obese category. It’s actually shortening the lifespans of the folks who work so hard to deliver nearly everything the country needs. According to the Center for Disease Control, the life span of the average truck driver is an alarming 16% less than the average American.

Given those grim sounding numbers, what’s a truck driver to do? Most truckers can’t go hit the gym for an hour every day, and thinking you have to live on a diet of “sticks and berries” is downright depressing. Fortunately, there’s a solution. It just takes a little planning, a bit of education about nutrition and an adjustment or two.

A good way to help plan what you’re going to eat when you’re on the road is to think, “What can I bring from home?” or “What could I pick up at a grocery store that’s good portable fuel?” There are a lot of healthy, tasty options such as small bags of nuts, raisins, granola and dark chocolate chips. It’s also important not to eat snacks straight out of a big bag or box. You can eat your way through a thousand calories before you know it.

There are a lot of basic things you can bring along that are satisfying snack alternatives. Pack healthy options like whole grain bread, peanut butter, cheese sticks, carrots and easy to eat fresh fruit like apples and bananas. If you like fresh vegetables like peppers, celery and other high fiber veggies, they’re great for satisfy the need to be chewing something without piling on the calories and sugar. If you have a mini-fridge in your truck or have room for a cooler, it opens up an entire world of health friendly foods you can take on the road.

Here are some easy guidelines to make healthy meal choices easier:

– Choose lean meats like skinless chicken breast and fish.
– Choose grilled or roasted, not battered or fried.
– Think salads. But, watch out for high-calorie and fat laden creamy dressings. Ask for the dressing on the side. It gives you control over amounts.
– Be aware of all those popular starches like white bread and dinner rolls, potatoes and white rice. They aren’t friendly to your waistline and don’t provide much in the way of nutrition besides carbs and calories.
– When you do eat carbs, think complex carbohydrates. Whole grain breads, whole grain pastas, brown rice and oatmeal are made from the whole grain kernel. They provide more nutrition and are higher in fiber. That’s why they do a better job of satisfying your appetite.
– Learn to read labels. If it doesn’t specifically say “whole grain” it probably isn’t. Learn to read grams of fat and sodium and know what they mean.

That may seem like a lot to digest, no pun intended, but understanding more about the foods we eat will make it easier to be aware of what and how much we put in our mouth. That doesn’t mean everyone has to become a nutritionist, but a little learning can go a long way.

Over-the-road truck drivers are what keeps this country supplied with just about everything we use. The country needs you and your families need you to be healthy and be around for a long time. So take care of yourself out there. You’re worth it.