Maintaining your health and fitness as a truck driver is crucial to your long-term success in the profession. Everything from passing your Department of Transportation (DOT) physicals to managing fatigue so that you can operate safely is influenced by what you put in your body.
As the nation has become increasingly health-conscious, so has the trucking industry and the folks who provide services to truck drivers. All the major truck stop chains, Love’s, TA/Petro, and Pilot/Flying J, have added healthy choices to their snack selections over the past decade, making it easier than ever for truck drivers to keep a supply of healthy snacks with them at all times.
Tips for Being Healthy on the Road
Good nutrition and an exercise program tailored for life on the road are the cornerstones of a safe, productive, and long career as a truck driver. Here are some quick tips for staying healthy on the road:
- With modern facilities for truck drivers at truck stops and rest areas, it is easier than ever to maintain a regular program of walking, jogging, and other exercise.
- Using water as your primary source of hydration will help prevent fatigue, unwanted weight gain, and kidney stones.
- Monitor your sugar intake. Snacks and beverages high in sugar will make you feel fatigued more often and can lead to type II diabetes which may disqualify you from passing a DOT physical.
- Monitor your sodium intake. A diet high in sodium has been shown to cause heart disease and other complications that may compromise your ability to pass a DOT physical.
13 Healthy Road Snack Ideas for Truckers
We want you to stay safe and healthy, so we’ve talked to some of our truck driver friends and pulled together a list of healthy on-the-go snacks for you.
Trucker Snack Facts
The snacks we’ve listed below have been suggested because:
- You can eat them without compromising your safety while driving
- They require little to no preparation
- They are widely available at the largest truck stop chains in the nation
- They’re good for you
Jerky is an excellent source of protein. It’s easy to eat and comes in a wide variety of flavors. Not all jerky is created equal, and some varieties are healthier than others. For healthier jerky, examine the nutritional information on the packaging and the ingredients. A more nutritious jerky will have a low sodium content, natural flavors, and no high fructose corn syrup. In addition to eating it as a snack, jerky is also an excellent emergency food source in the event of extreme weather, road closings, or other situations where you’re forced to stop for an extended time.
2. To-Go Tuna Pouches
Besides being an excellent protein source, fish also provides omega-three fatty acids, which some studies suggest help improve cardiovascular health. Tuna pouches are easy to eat and come in a variety of flavors so that you don’t need to worry about seasoning yourself. Salmon and mackerel are also available in to-go pouches for additional flavor variety. Other seafood options include smoked herring, sardines, and smoked oysters. These fish pouches require little to no preparation and store easily without the need for refrigeration. They can serve double duty as they are also perfect for sandwiches or adding to a salad for your lunches and dinners.
If you are looking to stay regular and maintain energy while driving, consider popcorn as a snack. Aside from being a whole-grain food, popcorn also serves as an excellent source of fiber. But, be careful as prepackaged and microwave popcorns contain high amounts of sodium and other ingredients that aren’t part of a healthy diet. Most truck stops have popcorn machines for a healthier selection that you season yourself. Another option is popping stovetop popcorn when you’re on hometime and bagging it up to take with you when you head back out on the road.
4. Hard-Boiled Eggs
When it comes to high protein content, hard-boiled eggs are hard to beat. Boiling them yourself may require extra time and effort while on the road, but fortunately, they are now a standard already-made offering at most truck stops. Hard-boiled eggs are also flexible snacks that you can use to enhance your meals as well. You can add them to salads, those tuna pouches we mentioned earlier, or even on a sandwich.
5. Protein Bars
Protein bars are a quick source of protein and energy you can keep on hand as you go about your day. When looking for a healthy protein bar, make sure to read the nutrition facts first. Some protein bars are loaded with refined sugars, so they’re not as healthy as they seem. Try to find a bar with lower sugar content to give you the energy boost and nutrients your body needs. Additionally, protein bars are an excellent backup food source to keep on your truck for unexpected events such as inclement winter weather in the Northern states.
6. String Cheese and Cheese Cubes
String cheese and cheese cubes are an excellent source of protein and healthy fats. If you are watching your weight, cheeses are a perfect snack choice for maintaining a higher metabolism. Remember, though, you’ll need a refrigerator if you want to store cheeses on your truck. But, if you don’t have a fridge, don’t worry. Virtually every truck stop has a good selection of healthy cheeses you can grab while making a fuel stop. And, if you’re ever passing through Wisconsin, be sure to try their famous cheese curds. For additional protein and to mix things up a bit, summer sausage makes an excellent complement to a variety of cheese flavors. You can also add cheese cubes or strips of string cheese to your salads for extra protein and flavor.
7. Fresh Vegetables and Hummus
Nothing says “I’m eating healthy” like fresh vegetables. Broccoli, carrots, celery, and more are readily available at stores and truck stops across the nation. Eating fresh vegetables with hummus is a great way to add some protein and good fat to this snack choice. Fresh vegetables are also a natural source of vitamins and minerals your body depends on for staving off fatigue and recovering from the beating it takes on the road. Depending on your vegetable of choice, be sure to experiment with different dipping sauces for extra flavor and variety.
8. Mixed Nuts
Mixed nuts can be a good source of protein and healthy fats. If you have a particular favorite, such as almonds, pistachios, or peanuts, you can often find raw, roasted, or lightly salted options available just about anywhere you go. But, many canned nuts contain high sodium content, and others add sugars for flavoring, so be careful in your selection. When looking for the healthiest nut options, look for raw, roasted, or lightly salted nuts to avoid excessive amounts of sugar or salt.
9. Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are a popular snack choice for truck drivers. Sunflower seeds, with their mix of healthy fats and magnesium, help support heart health. Additionally, like nuts, sunflower seeds are easy to store and consume while driving. Sunflower seeds are available in a variety of flavors and with or without the shells. Additionally, sunflower seeds make an excellent salad topping.
10. Mixed Berries and Fresh Fruits
If you have a sweet tooth, but you’re trying to avoid candy and other sweet treats, try berries and fresh fruits like bananas and apples instead. Fresh fruits provide numerous health benefits as they contain a combination of vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants. Mixed berries will satisfy your cravings but help you avoid the sugar crash that comes with many high sugar snacks. Bananas are high in potassium and are an old trucker’s go-to snack for fending off fatigue and leg cramps. Likewise, as the old saying goes, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Apples are a healthy way to boost your immune system. For extended periods on the road, you’ll be happy to know that most truck stops carry a wide variety of fresh fruit options for easy replenishment.
11. Dark Chocolate
Sometimes, it’s challenging to fight off a sweet tooth. If you absolutely must have something sweet in your day, pick up some dark chocolate. This treat is an excellent source of antioxidants, and it is also known to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. While milk chocolate may seem the tastier choice, it’s important to keep in mind the high sugar content of milk chocolate as well as the inevitable sugar crash and fatigue that accompanies high sugar snacks.
12. Sparkling Water
While it might be tempting to quench your thirst with sugary beverages and sodas, too much sugar and caffeine can lead to dehydration, sleepiness, and kidney stones. Try switching to sparkling water or plain water to help you stay hydrated. Sparkling water is available in a multitude of flavors and makes a great alternative to soda.
13. Leftovers from Home
If you have a portable refrigerator and microwave or food warmer, bringing a little taste of home on the road with you is another way to eat healthier and cheaper. By taking some time to meal prep before a trip, you can bring healthy, home-cooked meals with you. Bringing leftovers has several advantages. You are in control of the flavor and ingredients and can manage the amount of unhealthy processed foods in your diet.
A Healthy Lifestyle On the Road is Possible
Beyond the suggestions offered above, we invite you to be creative when it comes to eating healthy while on the road. The kind of fuel you put in your body is an essential part of maintaining a healthy and productive lifestyle while you’re out there moving America.
Keep in mind, options for healthy eating are more abundant while on the road than ever before. The old excuse that it’s hard to find healthy eating options on the road is now nothing more than a myth. With so much variety available at truck stops, the real challenge these days is deciding on which healthy snacks to take with you or purchase while you’re out there.
The main thing to keep in mind for healthy eating is keeping your sugar and sodium content low, watching the caffeine, drinking plenty of water, and taking advantage of opportunities to exercise.