Life on the road can make eating healthy meals a real challenge. When time, deadlines, and the almighty dollar are on the line, it’s simply easier to stop at a fast food chain right off the exit. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it gets you back on the road in almost no time. It seems like the perfect solution to a life on the highway…that is, until you realize it really isn’t.
The truth is, the sedentary lifestyle of a long-haul truck driver sets them up for a variety of health concerns. In 2014, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health performed a study, dubbed “Obesity and other risk factors: The National Survey of U.S. Long-Haul Truck Driver Health and Injury,” and found that out of 1,700 long-haul drivers, there were a “constellation of chronic risk factors,” including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, smoking, physical inactivity, and sleep duration. The study also found that “truck drivers are twice as likely to be obese as the rest of the U.S. adult working population,” with 69% of drivers surveyed being obese and 17% being morbidly obese. But the risk factors don’t stop there. In fact, 88% of the drivers surveyed also had some other chronic disease risk factor, like high-blood pressure or smoking, compared to 54% of the general U.S. adult working population.
Two of the best ways to combat many of these risk factors and ailments are through old-fashioned diet and exercise.
When it comes to the dieting part, we’re not talking about going vegan or eating food that tastes like cardboard. We don’t want to make eating too hard or miserable! Instead, we’re talking about ditching the high-fat, high-sodium, high-sugar, high-calorie food options that are all too readily available when eating on-the-go. What we are talking about, however, is finding tasty options that fuel your body in a much healthier way. The bottom line is, we want to help you eat a healthier diet on the road — so that you can be healthier, sharper, and happier in your life.
If you’ve struggled to find healthy food options on the road, or if you’re looking for alternatives to the fatty, greasy menu options that are fast-food, you’ve come to the right place. Stay tuned as we dive into a variety of healthy food and snack ideas for truck drivers!
1. In-Cab Kitchen Tools to Make Healthy Food on the Road
There are a lot of great ways to make healthy meal decisions on the road — if you have the tools. Check out these handy kitchen gadgets, many of which only require an electrical outlet:
- Crockpot — great for just about anything you can think of.
- RoadPro portable, electric frying pan — great for eggs and other foods.
- Road Pro Hot Pot for boiling water.
- A steamer for freshly steamed vegetables.
- A good blender for fruit and vegetable-based smoothies. For an even healthier, less sugary
approach, you can find tons of excellent “green smoothie” recipes online. Don’t skip this idea!
- Cooler or mini refrigerator.
- Cutting board, knives, plates, and utensils.
- Storage containers for leftovers.
2. Crockpot Cooking for Truckers
Do yourself a favor and get a crockpot. This is one of the easiest ways to cook and prepare healthy meals on the road. The best advantage of crockpot cooking is that you can easily prepare your evening meal in the morning, simply by dumping ingredients into the pot, closing the lid, setting the temperature, and walking away — just make sure there’s no chance of it falling down or tipping over while you’re driving. Crockpot cooking is pretty quick — saving you time — but it also ensures that you get to control the ingredients, fats, salt, etc. going into your food. The other major advantage of crockpot cooking for truck drivers is that your cab will smell amazing on your cooking days!
With a crockpot, you can significantly reduce or eliminate those last minute and unhealthy evening meal choices, because your food is already cooking and will be ready at dinner (or earlier). The other great news? There are tons of healthy crockpot recipes online (try Pinterest), or you can always order a healthy crockpot recipe book, like Fix it and Forget It Lightly, which includes 600 healthy, low-fat, slow-cooker recipes. (For easier cleanup, take a look at slow-cooker liners.)
3. Grocery Store Meals and Snacks for Truckers
A great way to eat healthy on the road is to swing by a local grocery store! Just remember to shop the outer aisles of the store — skip the center aisles where junk food is found — and pick up things like fruits, vegetables, salad fixings, yogurt, nuts, hummus, string cheese, and ingredients for turkey sandwiches (or something similar). If you do venture into the center aisles, look for healthier alternatives to your favorite snacks (i.e. whole-grain crackers and bread, peanut butter, popcorn, or oatmeal).
Always go to the grocery store with a game plan and a grocery list, and only buy exactly what you will need for however many days until your next resupply stop. This will help ensure that you have exactly what you need and that you don’t overbuy.
Need some ideas? Here are some great things you can make with fresh ingredients on the road!
4. Healthy Beverages
Your diet isn’t just the foods you eat; it’s also what you drink. Sodas, pop, sweetened teas, or sweetened coffees contain tons of sugar, which can increase your risk of being overweight and having high blood sugar, as well as developing diabetes, liver disease, and heart disease. Eliminating sugary drinks — or other sugary snacks — can help you lose weight, manage diabetes, and improve or prevent other issues. Swap sugary drinks for unsweetened alternatives and always drink a healthy dose of water each day. Sufficient water intake is needed for healthy body functions, but when you’re on a diet, it can also help you eat less.
5. Cab Cuisine and Online Recipes
Healthy trucker recipes, cooked right from your truck? Yes, please! If this sounds enticing to you, then check out Cab Cuisine from Progressive®. This free site comes with a variety of healthy, truck-friendly recipes that should be easy for any truck driver to accomplish. With each recipe, you’ll get of list of the tools and ingredients needed, plus a video showing a real-life truck driver (or spouse) preparing the meal from their cab. Don’t stop at the recipes here! Once you have the cooking equipment, check out these other online recipe sources — all of which contain recipes that can easily be converted to cab cooking:
Choosing Healthier Options
Eating healthier meals on the road really comes down to picking and choosing healthier options — as well as healthier portions — for yourself. The major advantage of cooking your own food is that you can cut back on salt, fat, sugar, and other unhealthy additives, while increasing the things that make it flavorful — like spices and various ingredients. Always talk to your doctor first about your dietary restrictions and goals, then see what’s out there that meets those goals and still sounds enjoyable. We hope these healthy truck driver recipes and resources have given you a jumpstart towards living a healthier life — whether you’re on the road or at home.