How Can a Truck Driver Eat Healthier?

There are many reasons why it can be difficult to manage a healthy diet as an OTR truck driver. With limited time for cooking and eating, lack of space in a cab for kitchen appliances and food storage, the convenience of grabbing a hot meal from a fast-food spot with no prep or cleanup makes a slice of pizza or a cheeseburger seem like the easiest choice for lunch or dinner. When it’s time to park, truck stops often have quick-service restaurants adjacent to them, and the stops themselves are guaranteed to be stocked with plenty of snacks and sugary drinks. Combining this with the sedentary lifestyle that comes with most truck driving jobs, it’s no wonder that 7 out of every 10 truck drivers are obese, with 2 in 10 being morbidly obese. Disease is also common – compared to the general US population, drivers are twice as likely to have diabetes or high cholesterol. All these factors can lead to serious health complications if you’re not careful.

However, the good news is, over the last several years, more and more healthy options have become available at national restaurant chains. Newer model trucks are also better suited for cooking and storing food, with many having built in refrigerators, swivel tables, and more space for storing appliances. If you’re looking to take control of your health, here are some easy meals for truck drivers looking to eat better.

Breakfast Ideas for Truck Drivers

Nobody should skip the most important meal of the day! A smaller meal that’s high in protein and fiber will help energize you for the day ahead.

  • Oatmeal
  • Homemade smoothie
  • Fresh fruit
  • Protein bars & shakes
  • Granola bars
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Cottage cheese
  • Greek yogurt
  • Cereal with whole grains and fiber

Lunch and Dinner Ideas for Truck Drivers

These ideas will work for either meal while you’re on the road. Many of these can be made on the truck, but if you find yourself with some time at home, give meal prepping a try. By bringing several premade meals onto your truck and heating them up when it’s time to eat, you can have a meal ready in a matter of minutes.

  • Meals with lean, white meat like turkey and chicken
  • Wraps (try using low-carb tortillas or lettuce wraps!)
  • Pasta salad
  • Sandwiches
  • Soups and stews
  • Tacos
  • Other leftovers from home

Snack Ideas for Truck Drivers

Try and keep an assortment of healthy snacks in your cab if possible. This will save you time and money, as well as eliminating the need to purchase snacks when you stop to fuel.

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Hummus as a high-protein dip
  • String cheese
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Popcorn
  • Jerky
  • Trail mix
  • Dried fruit

These are just a few simple ideas that take minimal time to prepare. If you’re looking to step up your cooking game or are seeking healthy alternatives to your favorite comfort foods, check out these cookbooks of healthy, trucker-approved recipes from our wellness manager!

Now that we’ve visited some of the many options to eat healthier on the road, here are some general tips to keep in mind to make healthy eating easier or more beneficial.

Kitchen Appliances: While we know space is limited, investing in something like a slow cooker or air fryer will give you the ability to have a hot meal wherever you go. It’ll also save you money in the long run – some recipes can make many portions of food all at once, meaning food for days at a time versus paying for a single meal at a restaurant.

Smaller Meals: In OTR driving, time is one of the most important resources a driver can have. It’s tempting to stop for one huge meal instead of finding the time throughout the day to eat. This is generally not recommended. Instead, try having small meals with snacks throughout the day for more consistent energy levels and an easier time digesting.

Fast Food: It’s virtually impossible to avoid fast food 100% of the time, even for the most dedicated health gurus. If you find yourself at the drive-thru, try swapping large meals for small or regular sizes, or do some research before ordering. Many people have compiled lists of the healthiest meals you can order from almost every chain you could imagine. Here’s a list of some options for popular chains! 

Portioning: It’s pretty tempting to eat snacks straight out of the package, but when drivers are focused on the road, it’s easy to overeat and not even realize until you hit the bottom of the bag. Instead, take the time after shopping for food to pre-portion snacks into the amounts that work for your diet. Not only does this help overeating, but it’s a lot more convenient to reach for.

Water: The average American drinks around 348 cans of soda each year. That’s a lot of sugar! Most sodas have a diet substitute nowadays, which is better than the alternative, but the best beverage choice will always be water. Being hydrated has numerous health benefits and can also make you feel energized without turning to coffee or energy drinks.

If you keep these tips in mind on your travels, you’re sure to feel great! Melton is one of the best trucking companies to work for if health is a priority for you.  All trucks come equipped with a refrigerator to store food, as well as 1800–2000-watt inverters that can power any kitchen tools you need. Our Tulsa terminal is also home to a 24-hour state of the art gym and café with healthy and delicious options for all employees. We also have some of the best truck driver benefits available, including extensive health insurance coverage and an on-site clinic. A healthy driver is a happy one!

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