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  • Allen Czermak

Truck Drivers & Healthy Eating Habits

Being on the road as a regional or intermodal truck driver is a choice of lifestyle that comes with certain challenges. One of those challenges is the food that these truck haulers put into their bodies while on the road. True it is hard to nourish their body in a healthy way as they trek in a sixteen-wheeler across the United States but there are many reasons as to why a truck driver should consider filling their own engines with healthy foods.

Reason #1: Truckers Can Gain Weight Easily

One of the health issues with any type of commuter is the lack of mobility. You hop in the car, sit in traffic, park, and take a short walk to the office. Not that much exercise during the work week. That means calories are not being burned off leading to unwanted body fat. In addition, gas stops, and rest areas present their own challenge with the easy availability of high calorie snacks.

For OTR truck drivers this is an even bigger challenge. Day in and day out they need to create their own meals and choose their own snacks. Being on the road for weeks at a time can be tiring and drivers will often take advantage of the cheap fast-food option. This is an extremely hard challenge as they are truly low on energy and need something to curb their hunger. According to Heavy Duty Trucking, truckers can gain annually 15 to 40 pounds a year. Therefore, it is vital that they are super smart about their daily diets and what goes into their bodies.

Reason #2: Not Getting The Right Nutrients Can Slow Down Your Metabolism

When looking for a quick boost of energy truckers will tend to grab a carb rather than a protein. Carbs are an important part of any human's daily diet but too many of them will slow down your metabolism. Of course we hear all the time that a slower metabolism often leads to weight gain but it's not that simple. According to the Mayo Clinic metabolism does indeed have something to do with gaining weight but it’s not the culprit. The main felons that play a role in weight gain are the things one eats and the lack of activity. One of the negative effects of a slower metabolism is fatigue which is bad news for truck haulers. It is of utmost importance that drivers stay alert even when trying to meet a crucial pickup at the port or rail yard.

Choosing a protein will go a much longer way then those high calorie grab and go bars. If you do choose to go with a carb, make sure there is some type of protein inside like cheese, avocado, or an egg. You might be surprised to know that a hard boiled egg can take you a lot farther than a cream cheese bagel. High protein diets will diminish the hunger cravings throughout the day keeping you away from snacking. If you do feel like you need a snack, make it a healthy one or something under 100 calories with not so much sodium and sugar in it.

Reason #3: Eating Out Is Expensive

It’s not like this should be a surprise to anyone, eating out on a consistent basis is expensive. Yes, that's for even the drive through restaurants that offer meals for under ten dollars. What is best for truck drivers is to plan their meals and do their own grocery shopping at a local Walmart. There you can choose healthy options for your three meals a day or at least two meals per a day. You will get more for your money and you can store the small amounts of perishables in your fridge or cooler. At the same time you don’t want to get stuck with too many groceries since truck drivers are limited on cold storage. There are many veggie and fruit options that don't need cold storage like bananas, apples, carrots, and oranges. These can be kept in a cool spot without having to take up extra space in your cooler or mini fridge and still stay fresh for many days.

One driver that does an intermodal run in Texas purchased a warmer that plugs into the lighter with which he was able to warm up his lunch. When he left the house early in the morning there was a sealed plastic container with last night's dinner in it and this was a perfect nourishing lunch. Local drivers tend to have a bit more flexibility because they live at home and can rely on family for their meals. Unfortunately for long haul drivers, they are usually far from family and being on the road for weeks can make it a challenge to navigate one's daily meals.

Reason #4: It’s All About Truck Drivers Staying Healthy

The most important reason that truck drivers should eat healthy is because of their health. Eating healthy is known to prevent many diseases like obesity, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and stroke. You may be away from your family but you cannot imagine how they love you and pray for your health and well being. The most you can do is to keep that in mind and eat healthy even when on your long haul across the United States.

Healthy eating is also known to have a positive impact on productivity and increases focus. This is very important for the safety of the driver and the cargo that is being transported. At any moment there can be a vehicle that swerves into your lane and quick decision making is crucial for everyone's safety. Only by being alert and focused will the driver make the right decision which could mean life or death. Driving a truck is quite different in that decisions must be made way ahead in advance as they could be hauling up to 80,000 pounds of weight. Subtle jerks of the wheel can cause a jackknife tractor trailer that can be devastating for all. A truck drivers reputation is king and logistics companies looking to hire want to know that their operators and cargo are protected. One accident can mean losing your job and in rare instances your CDL license.

Some Solutions To Eat Healthy & Stay In Shape While On The Road

Everyone knows in the back of their head that it’s important for their health to eat healthy. We all want to live long healthy lives and need to take care of our precious bodies in order for that to be the case. Below we will discuss a few solutions for how truck drivers could eat healthy and remain in shape even when being on the road. It may be not as convenient as you think but you and your family will be very thankful one day.

Solution #1: Bring Exercise Equipment With You Into The Cabin

One of the primary reasons for excess weight gain is not being active. This is why you look around during the COVID-19 pandemic and you see many of your friends and family have gained weight. In order to stay in shape during those long haul deliveries you need to make it your business to bring with you exercise equipment that you can easily access from your cabin. No not your Peloton bike or treadmill, we are talking about smaller things like weights, jump ropes, resistance bands, and other items that don’t take too much space. One trucker always brought his bike and made it his business to ride around the truck stop for at least a healthy hour. It’s very beneficial to your lower body which might cramp up from being in one position too long. This is especially true for those truck operators who experience sciatica. There is only so much that a good orthopedic seat cushion can do for you that is why it’s important to stretch those muscles out with some exercises.

Solution #2: Download a Healthy Eating App

There are hundreds of free apps that you can download onto your mobile device that will guide you on how to eat healthy. Besides getting ideas of what is a healthy choice it brings you an awareness of what and how many calories you're putting into your body. The way the apps usually work is that you set a calorie goal that you are looking to hit based on your BMI and as long as you stay within that count you won’t gain weight. If you are looking to lose weight then you will want to shoot for a little lower count. Even if you went over your count one day you can still lower it by doing exercise. It’s an excellent idea for truck drivers and can be very helpful for their health and wellbeing.

Solution #3: Stock Up On Healthy Snacks

The biggest challenge for eating healthy is the snacking. People even have this when they are at home after dinner, they just feel a craving to munch on something. That's why it's good to have things like healthy nuts (raw or roasted with no salt), bananas, berries, vegetables, and even low salt popcorn nearby. One can even make their own healthy trail mix by adding raw nuts, raisins, dark chocolate, and raw pumpkin seeds. This will be fun to munch when trekking on your next long haul across the United States. It’s all about making healthy choices when it comes to snacking and by having them available in your cabin will help you get through the snack crave.

Final Words

It’s imperative for a truck drivers well-being to eat healthy and stay in shape even when on the road. You will feel better and be more focused which is vital for truck operators. At the same time if you are looking to shed a couple of pounds, you can use the time on the road as an opportunity. Sometimes dieting can be hard at home when everyone else around you is eating donuts or consuming tubs of ice cream. When you're alone on the road you are in the driver’s seat. Take advantage of the moment, your family might be surprised how good you look when you arrive at your final destination which is home sweet home.



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