You are what you eat, as the saying goes, and eating well on the road isn’t always easy. It’s easier to find junk food than healthy food, although the availability of more balanced meals is increasing in restaurants, supermarkets and truck stops. Because trucking is generally a sedentary job, it’s even more important for truckers to get moving and eat as well as possible. Here are 5 tips for eating better on the road.
1. Hydrate properly
Water provides a multitude of benefits, including acting as an appetite suppressant. Keep a reusable water bottle in your cup holder and drink regularly, aiming for 1.5-2 litres per day. Tea, soup broths, and fresh fruit are all great sources of hydration as well, but limit coffee and avoid soft drinks, processed juices, and energy drinks.
2. Limit heavily processed foods
If you eat out often, look for foods that are as minimally processed as possible. Think about ordering fish (though not fried fish) when it’s on the menu, or grilled chicken as opposed to chicken nuggets. Replace oil-laden fries with potatoes, a green salad, or steamed vegetables. Go easy on ketchup and even easier on mayo: mayonnaise (578 calories per 100 grams) contains 573% more calories than ketchup (101 calories per 100 grams).
3. Plan, plan, and plan some more
Eating healthy may take a little effort, but that can be reduced with some planning ahead. Andrea Morley, a trucker’s daughter and the nutritionist behind the Healthy Trucker wellness program, suggests taking small steps by cooking a few meals at home when possible, and bringing them in the truck fridge or in a cooler, along with some quick and easy snacks to get you through the days.
Jinny Dufresne, founder of the Facebook group The Healthy Trucker Challenge, drives in teams and prepares her meals fresh and not frozen in the truck. So she has to be efficient. “I do my grocery shopping by planning what I want to eat at each meal,” she explains. Meat is individually portioned into Ziploc bags to save space in the truck’s refrigerator. For side dishes, when in season, she sources them en route from local producers. Three Tupperware dishes allow her to cook whatever she wants in the truck. “You just have to pick the right dishes and figure out the cooking methods. I can cook a surf and turf in the truck, any way you want it cooked.”
Sara Gagné, an administrator and very active trucker on The Healthy Trucker Challenge, admits to being much more ambitious than average when it comes to nutrition on the road. “Organization is the key to keep motivated to eating well.” She is extremely organized and diligent. A meal prepper, she prepares all her meals for the week at home. But sometimes she runs out of time, so she does her grocery shopping on the road and cooks as she goes in the truck, doubling recipes to maximise her time. Her equipment in the truck – all in mini format – includes a one-ring stove, oven, mixer, grill and cooking accessories.
Former world-champion boxer and now trucker Eric Lucas once told us that, on the road, he often eats pre-made soup meals because they have all the nutrients to sustain him through a day on the road.
4. Bring healthy snacks
For snacks, Eric Lucas keeps a mix of nuts and dried fruit with a few M&Ms mixed in for a little sweetness. “For snacks, avoid chips and candy,” adds Jinny. “You can eat raw vegetables and add some protein like nuts or cheese.”
5. Make it a lifestyle
Good habits are built over time and it’s all about choice. “It’s as simple as choosing to eat a grilled chicken burger instead of a fried chicken burger, or taking a walk at the end of the day instead of watching hours of TV. This doesn’t mean that you need to eat perfectly healthy and exercise for an hour every single day, but rather that when you make a few healthy choices each day, and you’ll begin to see results and a sustainable, healthy lifestyle will form,” Morley says.