The road to health can be a difficult one for professional drivers. Not only can they spend close to 130 hours per week either driving, waiting on a load, or sleeping; they are also limited by the amount of healthy food options that are available to them while on the road. However, there is hope and options for those drivers who are looking for a healthier lifestyle.
Not always, but for the most part, our health is created by two factors: 1. The quality and quantity of food we ingest and 2. how active we are in our lifestyles. Both of these factors can be difficult to perfect, but with a little planning and dedication, a healthy lifestyle can be achieved and maintained.
When you are at a store and looking to restock your truck, a general rule of thumb is to shop the exterior areas of the store, that is where most of the healthiest foods are located. This usually consists of your meats, fruits, vegetables, dairy, and water. If at all possible, stay away from the interior isles that contain your unhealthy fats, carbs, sugar, sodium, and numerous other artificial flavors, sweeteners and preservatives.
When choosing to eat at a restaurant, try to order a meal that gives you a good balance of meats and vegetables. Order your source of protein baked or grilled, not fried. If you stop for fast food, skip the burger and fries and go for a salad instead. After you focus on the type of food you eat, focus on the amount of food you are eating. Portion control is important, try to keep your servings to roughly the size of your fist. In a 24 hour period, do your best to have two meals that consist of 1 source of meat (protein) and 2 sources of vegetables (carbs). The serving size of each item should be no bigger than your fist.
A proven approach to a healthier diet is eating smaller meals more frequently. However, that is not always possible in the life of a driver, so, you have to do the best you can. Try to get in a healthy breakfast and a healthy dinner before you start your shift and after your shift ends. Between those two times, if it has been 3+ hours since the last time you have eaten and you are not driving, get something to eat. Things that you can keep in your refrigerator or in your truck are raw carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, celery, peas, and green beans. Grocery stores sell each of these items already cut, cleaned, and prepackaged. Cheese sticks, plain Greek yogurt, protein bars, protein shakes, and deli meat are good sources of protein that do not take up a lot of room and can be quickly and easily consumed. Stay away from bread, candy, junk food, or anything that is high in fat, carbohydrates, or sugar.
Although the fuel you put into your body is 75% of the equation, healthy motion makes up the rest. I have often times heard drivers say, “I do not have time or the room for exercise. Well, “when there is a will, there is a way.”
For the tech savvy driver there is an app called, The Active Trucker app. The app is specifically designed for drivers and gives them ideas on how to exercise while on the road.
Another option is dumbbells or kettlebells. Both are compact pieces of equipment that can be stored anywhere and provide an excellent full body workout. Numerous routines can be found on the internet.
Planks are another great and convenient way to strengthen your back, arms, legs, and core. Another benefit to planks is they require nothing but your own body weight and can be done practically anywhere at any time (other than while driving).
Small things like parking in the back of the parking lots or walking laps around your truck are simple and effective ways to create healthy motion. If there is a restaurant you want to each at, instead of parking at the restaurant, park farther down the road and walk there.
TIPS, TRICKS, & THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND
Try to stay away from fruit. The sugar is not good for you and there is no nutrition in fruit you cannot get elsewhere.
Limit the amount of bread you eat. It is good, but not good for you.
It goes without saying that chips, candy, and all junk food are not part of a healthy lifestyle and do not serve you well. However, when you do choose to partake, limit the total amount you eat in one sitting and the frequency by which you eat it (once per week).
Fight the urge to eat when you get bored. At times, drivers can become bored and their natural reaction can be to grab a bag of something and eat. Instead, listen to a book on tape, drink some water, and chew your favorite sugar free gum until the craving goes away.
If you don’t buy it, you can’t eat it. Your chances to eat healthy increase dramatically if you do not stock your truck (or home) with food you should not be eating.
Water, water, and more water, at least 60 ounces per day and no more than 32 ounces of your favorite diet soda.
To find out more information on how to be healthy while on the road, please see your company’s health representative.