Gas station food. Just yesterday someone mentioned how amazing food is from the convenience store when on a road trip. Chips and soda are often the go-to items when selecting food at a convenience store. While we all may agree that a bag of chips and a soda taste better while road tripping, we agreed that we would not want to eat this way all the time. As a truck driver, traveling the road and wanting to make healthier food choices, there seems like there are limits to healthy food choices. Looking closer, however, there are many ways to bypass the candy aisle and choose options that are lower in sodium and fuller in fiber, leaving you feeling better, longer.
Healthy Snack Options for Over the Road Drivers
Those chips and soda are starting to sound good; we know. That’s because we have now written it here three times, and your mind is starting to think about them, and so are we. Often, the subconscious mind plays a lot into choosing the foods that we eat; therefore, changing our thoughts about what tastes good, fills us up, and keeps us healthy are often things that need restructuring in our brains. We want to encourage you, and we know that it is easy to make less healthy choices. We also know that over time, eating carrots and hummus really does make you feel better than that chocolate bar washed down with a soda. Start small, choose one meal to make really healthy, and make it easy.
Many semitrucks are equipped with refrigeration, therefore keeping healthier choices for food in the cab is possible. If you have access to a refrigerator, you can stop at a grocery store and stock your fridge with fruit, yogurt, and string cheese. When you do choose items such as yogurt, it is advisable to read the labels. Yogurt seems healthy enough in general, but when reading labels, some types of yogurt can have excessive amounts of added sugars and carcinogen-containing caramel color. One particular brand of yogurt, Activa Greek vanilla yogurt, advertises itself as great for your gut but has more sugar than a Double Chocolate Glazed Cake Donut from Dunkin’ Donuts! Reading labels will save you from thinking you’ve made a great choice when, in fact, there is definitely more to what is inside of these seemingly healthy choices.
For snacks that do not require a fridge, consider unsalted or lightly sea-salted almonds, fruit, or jerky. These snacks keep you feeling full, without the added guilt. There are often bags of popcorn in the aisles of convenience stores now, and in particular there are brands that have just a few ingredients. Skinny Pop has no artificial ingredients and is free from top allergens (wheat, dairy – unless you buy the Cheddar flavors, of course – peanuts, and tree nuts), plus it adds a daily dose of fiber to your diet.
Healthy Options for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner Choices on the Road
Breakfast has been touted for years as the most important meal of the day. For some, this is entirely true, while many people have reported they do not get hungry until around 9 or 10 a.m. Learning to listen to your body is important, as it will provide valuable clues as to when to eat and what your body needs. For healthy breakfasts on the road, try oatmeal, fruit, whole-grain toast with almond butter, eggs, and lean meats. Try drinking your coffee with almond milk or plain, and try adding ice in the summer to cool down those hot days. Work to keep sugar out of your breakfast in refined forms, as a high sugary breakfast can lead to a feeling of crashing later, which can result in overeating or poor food choices.
Lunchtime does not have to mean grabbing something from a fast food joint. It is quite simple to create a sandwich of whole grain bread with tomato and avocado, or use a wrap with hummus, lettuce, and grilled chicken. If you are short on time, however, many fast food places do have salads, but hold the dressing and croutons! The salad dressings often have hidden additives, as we mention below. Opt instead for olive oil and salt or buying a dressing with simple ingredients that you can stash in your fridge. Annie’s is a company that works to create foods with minimal ingredients, including their salad dressings. You can still have ranch, thousand island, and honey mustard knowing that your ingredients are well-sourced and healthier options.
Dinners on the road can often be the times when we are most weary and make poorer choices. You’ve driven all day, and you just want to relax with good-tasting food. On the road, and in our daily lives, dinner benefits you best when it is the smallest meal of the day, unlike our popular larger dinners in the United States. Smaller dinners are better for digestion and help improve sleeping by lessening the risk of heartburn from eating prior to laying down. When choosing dinner, consider purchasing or using a slow cooker to create meals. Choose lean meats and veggies to put into a slow cooker and add a side of beans or fresh veggies. Slow cookers can be found in 12-volt traditional AC power. In a hurry? Consider soups on the road, checking the labels to ensure sodium and sugars are not too high and ingredients are in fact simple.
Drinks and Dessert to Support a Healthy Lifestyle on the Road
Sodas are easy to consume, cheaper, and often seemingly filling. The amount of sugar in one can of Coca-Cola is 39g. According to the American Heart Association, an average male should only consume 37.5g of sugar per day, the average female 25g. Carbonated beverages taste great on a warm summer day but pack a lot of sugar, so try a chilled seltzer or soda water instead, which have no calories or added sugars. If you are considering a cold coffee beverage, note that the Starbucks beverages in the coolers often have a lot of added sugar. The Honey Latte has 45g of sugar! However, Stok has an unsweetened coffee with 15 calories and no added sugars, and a Not Too Sweet Cold Brew coffee has 60 calories and 12g of sugar. These two products are better choices when looking for a morning alternative.
If you love dessert, try frozen yogurt, sorbet, or freezing grapes and strawberries for the road. When starting to make healthier choices, it can seem daunting. That is why we suggest starting small, maybe with just changing one area of your diet at a time. Over time, these choices get easier.
Carcinogens, GMOs, and Gluten: Which Ingredients Are Really Bad for You?
Reading labels on everything before you buy it sounds very time-consuming. And, at first, it might be. Eventually, you will start to pick up on ingredients that are healthier than others. Starting simple is the best: buy foods in their most natural states and with the fewest ingredients, with words you can pronounce. Words like Butylated HydroxyAnisole, Castoreum, and Acesulfame Potassium are ingredients best left out of your food and your body. Acesulfame Potassium is an artificial sweetener found in diet sodas and no-sugar-added ice cream that is 200 times sweeter than sugar and has been linked to lung and breast tumors and thyroid problems. Castoreum, found in vanilla or raspberry processed food flavoring, is beaver anal gland juice; there is nothing more we need to say about that. Butylated HydroxyAnisole, found in beer, crackers, cereals, butter, and foods with added fats, has been shown to cause stomach cancer in hamsters, mice, and rats. So, if you’re having trouble pronouncing it, chances are you should stay away.
East Tennessee Trucking Company Values Healthy Truckers
We pride ourselves on taking care of our drivers and supporting their health. Previously, we wrote about maintaining correct posture while driving, hydration, and sleep, all with the trucker in mind. If you have ever thought about working for an OTR trucking company, but could not find the right fit or desired more from your comany, consider Roane Transportation. We offer complete benefits packages, sign-on bonuses, and support while on and off the road. Apply today or reach out via our website or via phone at 865-354-3288.