Trucking comes with massive challenges that force you to change your lifestyle, from your sleep schedule to your nutrition. With crunching deadlines and expectations from both the company and yourself to always turn in peak performance, the last thing on your mind might be counting the calories in your food.
But your nutrition as a truck driver affects your health and mental wellbeing significantly. If you don’t eat the right food, you’ll become susceptible to diseases like obesity and high blood pressure.
In this article, we’ve gathered some excellent healthy meals for truck drivers. But first, let’s explore the potential risks of poor nutrition.
DISEASES CAUSED BY POOR NUTRITION
Judging by the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average truck driver burns around 1,975 calories per day. But this calorie burn rate is not enough to metabolize all the excess calories in your body. As a result, 88% of truckers are vulnerable to at least one of the following conditions:
- Being overweight or obese. The Center for Diseases Control (CDC) estimates that 69% of truckers are overweight — which is a gateway to other chronic diseases.
- Tooth decay. Consuming foods high in starch and sugar supports the growth of plaque bacteria that causes tooth decay, cavities and gum disease.
- High blood pressure. Excess sodium intake increases your blood pressure, and most of this sodium comes from processed foods.
- High cholesterol. Obesity and lack of physical exercise also lead to high cholesterol levels in the blood.
- Heart disease and stroke. Eating a lot of saturated fat or trans fat contributes to heart disease and stroke in truckers.
- Type-2 diabetes. Sugary foods also increase the chances of getting diabetes, especially in high-risk populations.
- Osteoporosis (lack of calcium). This disorder results from meals that disrupt the synthesis of calcium in the body.
- Cancer. Diet-related obesity accounts for over 13 types of cancer, which is up to 40% of all known cancers.
HEALTHY FOOD IDEAS FOR TRUCK DRIVERS
Now that you understand the dangers of a poor diet, let’s walk through some recommended healthy food for truckers that require nothing more than easy meal prep.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but that doesn’t mean you can stuff anything into your mouth to start things off.
Always try to keep it light with something protein-rich, like eggs. You can also throw in a few veggies to make an omelet — or eat some protein bars with oatmeal.
When you are stuck in the cab all day, the temptation to snack becomes irresistible. But you can keep your snacks lean and healthy.
Foods like hummus and string cheese can serve as snacks. You could also head down the meat route with beef jerky and chicken sandwiches.
If you love to munch on things during the journey, whole grain crackers, mixed nuts, and unsweetened popcorn should be in your bag.
Lunch is when you should go heavy on the nutrients and calories. If you want to have a healthy lunch for truck drivers, you can start off by eating a turkey burger with some lettuce/tomato/pickle added. You could also opt for high-fiber foods like whole-grain bread, beans, and chicken soup. If possible, stay away from tacos and pastas if they’re heavily coated in cheeses or other fatty ingredients.
You could always eat your pre-canned soups again for dinner. But if you want to add some variety to your diet, adding a few pieces of beef, turkey, or chicken won’t hurt.
To avoid bloating, try to eat at least two hours before going to sleep. You could also take short walks to accelerate digestion.
Nothing is wrong with having a sweet tooth from time to time — and you can do this in a healthy way. Don’t rush into the grocery store and grab the first bag of cookies on the shelf; check the caloric content before buying it.
Some popular healthy dessert choices for truckers include yogurt (Greek yogurt), homemade muffins, Brazilian nuts, cashew nuts, and fat-free ice cream. You could even prepare these from home if you don’t trust the grocery store (or trust yourself in it).
If you are serious about eating healthy, then you must have fruits in your lunch box. Besides, you can also eat fruits as part of any meal during the day.
Grab apples, oranges, strawberries, or bananas on your way out the door each day. If you are worried about storage, you can carry dried fruits on your trip. Dates and apricots are notable healthy sources of concentrated sugar.
When you are on the road, nothing is more tempting than grabbing a cold bottle of soda to quench your thirst. But the unfortunate reality is that sweetened sodas are quite harmful to your health. Also, too much coffee is bad for you because it lowers your blood calcium levels.
But you can never go wrong when you drink water. You can drink as much water as your scheduled bathroom breaks will allow. And if you want to add some taste to the liquids you take, homemade juice and protein drinks are surefire options.
HEALTHY MEAL TIPS
Even with the right dietary plan, drivers still consume more than they actually need — and an excess of any nutrient is harmful to the body. So here are tips to help you plan and eat healthy food for truckers.
PRACTICE PORTION CONTROL
As a driver, you should always monitor the quantity of food you consume. When you have the food beside you, the temptation to grab a quick bite will always be there.
Therefore, you need to divide up the food into portions and stick to the meal plan. Once any meal is over, try not to eat anything again until the next scheduled meal.
AVOID THE SUGAR
Getting rid of processed sugars from your diet is a massive struggle, especially when working in a physically demanding sector like trucking. But this decision will pay off in the long run by helping you reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
So, whenever you crave a soda, drink water or eat some fruit. If possible, you should make your own fruit juice from home.
PACK YOUR OWN FOOD
The best way to keep track of your nutrient intake is by making and packing your own lunch box. Create a meal plan highlighting the foods to avoid and those to include in your diet. If your spouse is in charge of your meals, you should share your dietary needs and exclusions with them.
The best supplement for a nutrient-dense meal is water. One of the most compelling reasons to drink water is that it keeps you hydrated. It also lubricates your joints, thereby helping you to avoid pains in your lower extremities. You can drop in a slice of lime to add some taste to the water.
CHECK THE LABEL
Of course, calculating the calories for every meal is tiring; sometimes, you just want to eat and get on with your life. But think about it: a BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) calculator might be the only thing keeping you away from an ICU. And to be on the safe side, try to keep your daily calorie intake below 2000 calories unless you incorporate regular exercise in your day to day (also a good thing).