It’s no secret that it’s difficult to eat well on the road. Aside from the distractions (McDonald’s and others like it), you’re limited for food options in the places you spend the most time: namely, convenience stores and truck stops. So how does a truck driver eat healthy when faced with those limited options?
Avoid Sleepy Time Foods
We all know the sudden fatigue that comes with eating bad carbs – usually fried and/or filled with sugar. You must avoid that consequence, which can be an occupational hazard and detrimental on the road. Stay away from convenience store staples like fried chips, candy bars, and doughnuts. Safe snacks? Baked chips and popcorn. Just make sure each lists as few ingredients as possible. If you’re feeling adventurous, try a bag of baked veggie crisps, like Flat Earth or Snapea Crisps.
Best Bet: Replace your candy bar with a Luna bar -- which contains around 12 grams of sugar-- versus that of a Snickers bar (raking in 29 grams).
Stick with Colorful Foods
Today, many convenience stores provide an assortment of fruit and vegetables – those should be your first stop. Whether it’s a banana (a healthy carb), apple, or berries, you’re much better off with naturally sweet options, as opposed to a candy bar to cure that sweet tooth. Not to mention you’ll get sustainable energy.
If you can’t get your hands on a colorful fruit or veggie opt for a fruit juice, like Naked brand juices, which contain several servings of fruit and vegetables in each bottle. You’ll feel a jolt immediately from the Vitamins A, C, and Potassium. Just limit your intake, since these are high in fructose. Fructose metabolizes quickly and is stored as fat, a stark contrast from the sugar found in a piece of fruit. Limit your consumption in one sitting (which you do quite a bit of as a truck driver) when you see fructose listed as an ingredient.
Best Bet: A packaged salad is a great way to fuel up. Make sure it’s colorful with a healthy mixture of veggies, like tomatoes, carrots, and peppers. Opt for those containing spinach leaves, romaine, or spring mix if you can. Iceberg lettuce, while common, has a much lower nutritional value than others.
Protein Packs a Punch
The great news about protein is that it controls hunger and satisfies you for a longer period of time, which means fewer stops for you and your truck. Pay attention to your body. Craving a steak? Try not to be picky -- just have any source of protein. Grab a whole grain cereal or jerky, such as Oberto. While typically high in sodium, it’s a complete protein and you’ll find that it has all of the amino acids you need to give you optimum performance.
Another option is nuts, which are commonly found at any convenience store. While oiled or dry-roasted are just okay for you (thank the high sodium for that), an unshelled bag of peanuts is a great, high-protein (and healthy carb) snack. Trail mix will also give you energy to burn. Just look for one with no sugar added, like Planters Trail Mix.
Best Bet: If you find yourself in a 7-Eleven, check out the 7-Smart Turkey Sandwich. It consists of whole wheat bread, oven-roasted turkey, fresh lettuce and tomatoes, with 15 grams of protein.
Control your cravings by eating consistently and you’ll be able to resist the urge to indulge when you enter the convenience store. Remember, your body needs sugar, protein, and sodium – but always the good kind – to stay healthy and moving for your journey on the road.