A Good Diet for Truck Drivers

06/06/2022

A Good Diet for Truck Drivers

How do truck drivers eat healthy while over the road? Truck drivers can have jam-packed schedules with little time to think about their food choices. While truck stops and fast food joints are often full of food loaded with sugar, sodium, or to-go greasy food. Maintaining a good diet for truck drivers can be hard to do while having fast-paced schedules. It’s easy to get used to these kinds of foods, and with a sedentary work style, it can often add up to an early onset of diseases and poor health. For example, the life expectancy of truck drivers is 16 years less than those of other working professions. And the heavy carbohydrate and sugar load of those convenient favorites can lead to a slower metabolism and insulin spikes – both making you more sluggish behind the wheel and affecting your alertness.

Thanks to advances in technology and consumer changes, maintaining a good diet while over the road (OTR) is becoming easier. While having a good diet for truck drivers might seem difficult, with a little preparation and planning, it can be doable and keep you hauling freight for years to come. There are many ways to improve your diet, and we’re here to help you find what works best for you. Keep reading for tips, food ideas, benefits to healthy eating, and more so you can find a healthy diet convenient.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

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STORING & MAKING FOOD OTR

Making your own meals, whether ahead of time or on the go, allows you to control the content and nutritional value of your food while also saving you some money in the long run. Thanks to today’s technology and appliances, you have options to store any temperature-controlled products or pre-made meals in portable coolers or refrigerators. You can even cook some food right from your truck using a microwave, slow cooker, or a hot plate. Just keep the clean-up in mind

You can also make use of some resources at truck stops, such as a microwave to heat up a packed meal or the hot water at the coffee station to use for things like oatmeal or instant soups. Additionally, many foods don’t need any temperature control, such as many fruits (fresh and dried), PB & J sandwiches, tuna packets, summer sausage, applesauce, and even dried or shelf-stable milk!

And if that’s not enough, you can still eat out. You just have to be mindful of where you’re going and what you choose to eat.

TIPS FOR A HEALTHY DIET

PLAN AHEAD

Planning your meals and snacks ahead of time is the easiest way to have a good diet for truck drivers. Make sure you’re balancing your diet and steering clear of those foods that make you feel bogged down. Whether you’re meal prepping or eating along the way, plan your meals out, so you know exactly what you’re eating and how it will make you feel.

KNOW WHERE YOU’RE GOING

This goes hand in hand with planning ahead. Know where you’re going for your meals so you can make the best choice of what you eat. You can still keep the convenience of eating out while choosing the places and meals that fuel your body best.

EAT EVERY 2-3 HOURS TO AVOID HUNGER SURGES

Not only does eating often help keep your metabolism active, but it also helps regulate your blood sugars, keeping your hunger at bay. There’s nothing worse than forgetting to eat for a while and then BOOM, hunger strikes, and somehow, you’ve consumed a whole day’s worth of meals, or worse, a bunch of junk you were craving rather than a well-balanced meal. Additionally, eating every few hours will prevent energy crashes and difficulty concentrating.

PRIORITIZE PROTEIN

Prioritizing protein is the best way to beat energy dips and most importantly, keep hunger and cravings at bay throughout your drive. Try adding some peanut butter or yogurt to your snack, having eggs at breakfast, eating lean meats or beans for lunch or dinner, or even adding a protein bar or shake to your day.

DRINK MORE WATER

Your body is made up of 60 percent water and you need to help maintain that balance! Water comes with no extra calories while keeping you hydrated and full of energy. And often, it’s common to confuse thirst with hunger. It’s estimated that on average anywhere from 11 to 15 cups of water is needed to keep signs of dehydration and thirst away, so make sure you’re drinking often. If you’re used to keeping a soda or energy drink on hand, you can always add some fresh fruit to your bottle of water to add some flavor and pizzazz.

STOCK YOUR CAB WITH HEALTHIER SNACK CHOICES

To keep your hunger at bay by eating every few hours, you’re going to need snacks at the ready. Try to keep away from the bags of chips or candy bars. For a good list of healthy snack ideas, see our list of “Snack Ideas” below. 

MAXIMIZE FRUITS AND VEGGIES AT EVERY MEAL

Remember the food pyramid? I think you and I both know we can always eat more fruit and vegetables. According to the Canadian Community Health Survey of Truck Drivers, 70 percent of truck drivers eat less than the suggested five servings of fruit and vegetables per day.

Fruits and veggies are great to fill your plate or snack because they’re full of water, fiber, good carbohydrates, and many other nutrients our bodies need. Fresh fruits are a great treat when you’re craving something sweet, and canned, fresh, or frozen veggies can be good as a crunchy snack or savory side to your meal. Fruits and veggies also contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals which may help in preventing things like cancer and heart disease.

LIMIT THE “FEEL BAD” FOODS

Do I sometimes love to eat a cheeseburger from McDonald’s or a Crunchwrap with a Baja Blast from Taco Bell? YES. Does it love me? NOPE.

So that’s why I limit them. As much as I love them, I know they make me feel bloated and sluggish, so I aim to steer clear of them. Of course, you don’t have to give those kinds of foods up completely; just reduce your intake of them. Get a salad with your burger or swap the soda with water to better balance it out when you choose to eat those foods.

HEALTHY IDEAS FOR ALL YOUR MEALS

BREAKFAST

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”. That’s for many good reasons! Breakfast essentially “breaks the fast” that your body had overnight while sleeping. It replenishes your supply of glucose to boost your energy and alertness in the short term while also helping with weight management and reducing your risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease in the long term. So don’t skip this important meal and make sure your breakfast is rich in protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats. Also, try to keep sugar at a minimum so you don’t crash soon after eating.

  • High fiber, low sugar, dry cereal or granola
  • Oatmeal
  • Whole grain waffles
  • Turkey bacon
  • Ham and cheese omelet
  • Hard-boiled eggs and toast
  • Avocado toast
  • Yogurt parfait
  • Fruit and yogurt smoothie

HEALTHY LUNCH

  • Sandwich
    • The options are endless! Plus, if you have a refrigerator in your truck, it’s easy to put together within minutes!
  • Salad
    • Can buy kits from the store or pre-made from truck stops/fast food
  • Grilled cheese and soup
    • Quick and easy to make, great for those rainy, cold days.
  • Frozen vegetables in steamable microwave bags
    • Great for a healthy side!
  • Stir-fry
    • Easy meal to make on the go or ahead of time and reheat. Buy a bag of 60-second cook-in-the-bag rice, a bag of mixed veggies, canned chicken, and some stir fry sauce. Cook the rice and then add the rest of the items and cook together. Easy and ready in just a few minutes!
  • Smoothies
    • To start, all you need is some protein powder, milk or water, yogurt, and a blender. Add in any extra ingredients for the flavors you want such as cocoa powder, peanut butter, or fresh fruit – the options are endless and up to you!

BALANCED DINNERS

Yes, some of these suggestions may have been in the lunch section too!

  • Salad
    • Can buy kits from the store or pre-made from truck stops/fast food
  • Grilled cheese and soup
    • Quick and easy to make, great for those rainy, cold days.
  • Frozen vegetables in steamable microwave bags
    • Great for a healthy side!
  • Stir-fry
    • Easy meal to make on the go or ahead of time and reheat. Buy a bag of 60-second cook-in-the-bag rice, a bag of mixed veggies, canned chicken, and some stir fry sauce. Cook the rice and then add the rest of the items and cook together. Easy and ready in just a few minutes!
  • Whole grain pasta with tomato sauce, veggies, and lean ground beef
  • Homemade chili
  • Taco bowl
    • Can use any sort of protein and is a great well-balanced meal
  • Soups
    • Can also be made in the crockpot

SNACK IDEAS

One of our tips above mentioned having healthy snacks on hand so you can keep your hunger satisfied throughout your drive. So here are a few healthy ideas:

  • Fresh fruit like apples, bananas, oranges
  • Fresh vegetables like carrots, celery, cucumbers
  • Protein or granola bars
    • The fewer ingredients, the better
  • Unsweetened apple sauce
  • Trail mix
    • Preferably the ones without the candies
  • Pretzels
    • Low sodium or unsalted
  • Popcorn
    • Unsalted and without butter
  • Dark chocolate
    • A higher cacao percentage means it’s better for you
  • Hummus
  • Use as a dip for your fresh veggies
  • Guacamole
  • Dried fruit
  • Roasted chickpeas
    • Great source of protein
  • Low-fat yogurt
  • Low-fat string cheese
  • Whole-grain crackers
  • Beef jerky

HEALTHY EATING BENEFITS

Adapting to a good diet for truck drivers can seem tough, but once you start, you’re sure to see some of the benefits such as:

NOT FEELING AS HUNGRY

Eating often and with foods primed to fuel you properly, you’ll notice your hunger affecting you less, which also helps you make smarter food choices.

MORE ENERGY

When your body is getting all the nutrients it needs and less of what it doesn’t, you’ll quickly realize how much more energy you have in your day-to-day.

BETTER FOCUS

Eating healthy increases blood flow to the brain, meaning your cognitive skills stay sharp, something every driver needs. It’s also been shown to help prevent dementia and cognitive decline.

BETTER HEALTH

One of the reasons you’ll be feeling so much better is because you’ll be in better health. Eating healthy improves your health and prevents common heart disease. It also helps to keep your bones and teeth strong, preventing tooth decay and osteoporosis.

WEIGHT LOSS

One of the main reasons people seek a healthier diet is to lose weight. In 2018, researchers found that a diet rich in fiber and lean proteins resulted in weight loss without any need for monitoring calories. As mentioned earlier, focus on filling most of your plate with fruits and veggies and prioritizing protein, and you might notice your clothes fitting a bit looser than before.

SAVES YOU MONEY

Now, this may not be the case if you continue to buy your food at truck stops or fast-food restaurants, but if you choose to make more of your meals ahead of time or on the go in your truck, this is often the case. On average, analyzed data from Priceonomics found that it is almost five times more expensive to eat out than it is to make your own food. And often, you’ll even find yourself with leftovers when making your own food to save and eat at another meal, saving you time, too.

A GOOD DIET FOR TRUCK DRIVERS IS POSSIBLE

A good diet for truck drivers is one of the most important factors for a healthy lifestyle, as I’m sure you’ve heard of the popular phrase “80 percent diet, 20 percent exercise”. It’s true because food is fuel. Our bodies are meant to thrive by fueling them with the proper nutrients, aka eating, which we do almost all day, every day. You wouldn’t fuel your truck with fuel that would make it run sluggish, slow, or eventually cause problems, so make sure you are doing the same with your body.

When starting to build a habit of healthy eating, the most important thing is to get started, no matter how small. While making healthy food choices on the road can seem impossible if you try whenever you can, you’ll quickly notice how much better you feel and ultimately, find that a good diet for truck drivers is possible.

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