AUTHOR: Gwen Decker, Owner & Coach Taking The Healthy Route
Eating a healthy diet on the road can be a challenge for drivers. Truck Stops are full of easily accessible junk foods and convenient fast food options. Truckers are stressed and on tight schedules to deliver their loads on time. When you’re stressed and strapped for time, it’s easy to find yourself grabbing something not so healthy, out of convenience.
Cooking your own meals in the truck gives you complete control over what your eating and is the best way to reach your health goals. While it’s ideal to cook your own food, it’s not always possible to have every meal in the truck. Sometimes you don’t make it to the store to restock or you just don’t have the time to cook. When you do eat out it’s important to know how to make smart choices so that you can reach your health goals.
Whether you’re grabbing fast food or sitting down at a restaurant, having a plan before you order makes all the difference to keeping yourself on track with your goals. It is possible to find healthier options when eating out if you know what to look for. Keep reading for 15 easy to follow tips when eating out.
To fuel yourself to your full potential aim to include high-fiber complex carbs, healthy fats, and lean protein with each meal. Each of these macro-nutrient plays an important role in your energy levels. Complex carbohydrates, fats, and proteins are digested at different speeds by your body. Steer clear of all carbohydrate options like pancakes or doughnuts because they cause your blood sugar levels to spike and then drop off leaving your feeling lethargic and foggy.
2) Steer Clear of Fried Foods
Most fast-food chains are known for their fried foods. While this might sound like a delicious option, it’s one of the quickest ways to derail your healthy eating. Not only are fried foods high in calories they are also loaded with trans fat which increases inflammation in the body. Opt for grilled meat and fresh or steamed vegetables instead.
3) Swap the Fries
Almost every restaurant and fast food place push fries as your side. With people around the country become more health conscious, it’s now rare to find a restaurant that doesn’t offer a healthy alternative to fries. Opt for a side salad or apple sliced in place of the fries.
4) Load Up on Veggies
Not only are vegetables full of beneficial nutrients they’re also high in fiber. The added fiber fills you up and is digested more slowly, which keeps you fuller longer. Don’t be afraid to ask for double or triple vegetables as your side. If you choose a burger, you can also ask to have it loaded up with vegetable toppings too.
5) Watch Your Salad Toppings
Salads are a great way to get more vegetables in as well, just be mindful of the toppings. Load up on the vegetable options. Things like glazed nuts, dried fruit, and starchy vegetables can turn your “healthy” salad into one of the most unhealthy choices on the menu. Check out this article for more tips on building a Healthy Salad.
6) Keep the Dressing on the Side
Restaurant dressings are usually full of trans fats, sugar, and high in calories. Ask for your dressing on the side and only use half of what they bring you. A great alternative is to swap out the dressing entirely for a healthier option such as salsa or hummus.
7) Don’t Be Afraid To Ask
You’ll only know for sure what’s in your food if you ask. Ask questions about how they prepare something if it’s not clear. Also, know that you’re not limited to what you see on the menu. Don’t be afraid to ask for substitutions. Most restaurants are more than happy to accommodate you.
8) Think About Your Drink
It’s estimated that beverages account for 21% of the calories that the average American consumes in a day. That’s a lot of empty calories!. One glass of soda or sweet tea contains more sugar than is recommended for an entire day. Go for the water or unsweetened tea instead. Add lemon juice to your water for some flavor. If you like the carbonation from soda try one of the many sparkling waters like Bubbly or La Croix with no artificial flavors, no sweeteners, and no calories.
9) Pass the Buffet
While the buffet may sound like the best bang for your buck, you’ll end up paying for it in the long run with your health. Rather than running the risk of overstuffing yourself, skip the buffet altogether.
10) Skip the Bun
White bread that typical burger buns are made of, is a highly refined, simple carbohydrate that causing blood sugar to spike. Not only does this lead to cravings and fatigue later in the day it can contribute to chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
Ask for your burger to be wrapped in lettuce instead or eat it with a fork.
11) Watch Your Portions
Restaurants portions are much larger than the recommended serving size and fast food spots are always offering to “super size” your meal. It’s easy to have the best intentions to only eat half only to find yourself finishing the whole thing. Resist the temptation to order the larger portion in at fast food places and ask your server at a restaurant to bring a to-go box when the meal comes out. As soon as you get your plate split your meal and box up the extra before you’re tempted to overeat. This way you’ll also have two meals for the price of one.
12) Order First
If you’re eating with someone else or a group of people be the first to order. This way you’re not tempted by anyone else’s choice. This is especially helpful when you are first starting to make healthier choices.
13) Rethink Dessert
Typical desserts are loaded with sugars and highly processed simple carbs. Rather than depriving yourself and steering clear of dessert altogether try swapping it out for a better alternative. Having some fruit, a square of dark chocolate, or a cup of tea after dinner can help satisfy your dessert craving in a much healthier way.
14) Stop to East Before Your Starving
Waiting to stop to eat and your too hungry its really easy to overeat and make poor choices. Truckers schedules don’t always allow them to stop to eat when they should. Keeping healthy snacks stocked in the truck is the easiest way to avoid letting yourself get too hungry.
15) Make Eating Out a Treat Not a Habit
Rather than eating out frequently make it a goal for yourself to cook your own meals the majority of the time. Not only is it better for your health, but you’ll also save money. Reward yourself by allowing the rare treat of sitting down at a restaurant and ordering a nice healthy meal.
Post by Gwen Decker, owner & coach Taking The Healthy Route. Gwen is a Health & Wellness Coach who works with Professional Drivers that are struggling with chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease or hypertension. She helps drivers manage their conditions by developing healthy habits on the road so that they can maintain their driving status and live their lives to the fullest.