Are you a busy parent, a traveling salesman, or a truck driver who is always on the go and on the road? Usually, this situation is extremely stressful, and it can wreak havoc on your health and wellbeing, especially if you are failing to get proper and adequate nutrition. Research shows that as the amount of meals eaten away from home increases, so do total calories eaten, while nutritional quality decreases. Overtime, this can lead to an expanding waistline and more challenging times ahead.
This is an especially troubling scenario for long haul truck drivers. Truck drivers have one of the most important jobs in the world, which I feel is often misunderstood and overlooked. The semis you see on the highway on your way to work, causing you anger as they pass a slightly slower semi in the left lane, could be hauling the brand new office chair you ordered yesterday or the medication your best friend needs to fight his cancer bout. These men and woman are faced with health challenges every day – from forced sedentarism to being limited to the fast food joints at the nearest truck stop.
This is a really big problem. You see, according to the Bureau of Transportation Logistics, the U.S. transportation system is the largest in the world, serving more than 7 million domestic businesses and 288 million residents while employing 1 out of 7 U.S. workers. And according to the Centers for Disease Control, the prevalence of obesity is twice as high in long haul truck drivers as that of the national working population.
When I work with truck drivers and other individuals who spend the majority of their time behind the wheel, I encourage them and help them to not become part of this statistic. We work together through the challenges and frustrations of being on the road, and adapt strategies to stay healthy and feeling their best. If you are truck driver or other “on the go” person, try some of these tips:
- Find ways to move – no matter what, exercise for at least 20 minutes per day. At the truck stop go for a walk or do some bodyweight exercise, like pushups, sit-ups, squats, lunges, and planks. Trust me, people will be staring because they are impressed!
- Pack your own food – whether you have a refrigerator in your truck or have to purchase a hardy cooler, this will make things so much easier! Pack your favorite healthy snacks and beverages, such as fruits and vegetables, yogurt and cheese, nuts and trail mix, nut butters, hard boiled eggs, jerky, and deli and/or vegetable wraps.
- Eat every 3-4 hours – your job is to stay alert and fully rested. Making sure you are moving when you can and eating something healthy every 3-4 hours will ensure your body is functioning on full energy stores. Make sure meals and snacks are made up of whole grains, healthy fat, and a lean protein.
- Avoid obvious energy sappers – skip high sugar and fat laden foods such as soda, deep fried foods like chicken and French fries, pastries like donuts, cookies, and cakes, and huge Thanksgiving meals that make you want to go right to sleep!
I am not saying truck drivers can never enjoy some of these foods – heck, we all crave them at some point! However, if you are relied on to be alert and on the road as much as possible, it is best to avoid these foods while on the job. If you are a truck driver or other busy person and have questions about how to stay healthy while on the road, please reach out at [email protected].
Bureau of Transportation Statistics
USDA Economic Research Services
Centers for Disease Control and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health