I sat down to write a blog about eating healthy on the road, and realized I am probably the worst person in the world to write about that. I mean, I know HOW to eat healthy and to make healthy choices, but I struggle to do it. Let's face it, a lot of us do. So let's talk about the struggle.

It Takes Effort

Getting to a grocery store in a semi isn't always easy. We can store up while at home, but for those of us who are out multiple weeks at a time, at some point we are going to have to find a grocery store somewhere. My GPS has the ability to search for grocery stores along my route or near my destination. A quick search of Google Earth allows me to check out the parking lot and see if a truck can even park in their parking lot. After verifying that, I try to make a quick call to the store just to double check and see if there is a specific place they would like me to park. Sometimes you get lucky and you can stop there for the evening and spend the night. Again though, checking with store management to make sure it’s okay  is always the smart thing to do. 

Once you get the food supplies, then you have to budget the space. I have a refrigerator in my truck, but the space inside is very limited. I also train drivers making that space even more valuable. It does have a small freezer, but you can't store very much in it. Many drivers have a cooler they can either plug in or refill with ice. The plug in coolers cool to about 30 degrees below ambient temperature, while the coolers that require ice need draining and refilling every so often. These have limited space as well and typically can’t keep anything frozen. There is also the added expense and inconvenience of ice. All of this planning and space management takes effort. You really have to be dedicated to making healthy choices that can fit into these spaces. 

Portion Control Stinks

With our crazy, hectic days, eating on a normal schedule is also difficult. After a long day of fighting traffic, dealing with customers, and every other nuisance we deal with out here, sometimes we barely eat at all. This in itself is unhealthy. At the end of the day when we finally do get time to eat, many times we are really hungry and just too tired to make anything. So we head into the truck stop and load up on a Heat Lamp Burrito or two, fast food burgers and fries, or sit down at the restaurant and either order the "All You Can Eat" choices or an entree with large sides. Then we scarf down the food until we are full and miserable. After that, it’s off to the bunk where we lay down and go to sleep. This is also bad for us, but it is what many of us often do. I try to eat smaller portions when I have to do this, but again, it takes effort and self control. It’s definitely no easy task. When you are hungry, it’s hard to just order a small portion. That is why they suggest not grocery shopping when hungry. We will end up getting way more food than we need, and most times it will be food not exactly good for us. 

So What Should We Do?

We all know the answer to that. Doing it is a totally different thing. So here is how I TRY to do the right thing.

When I quit smoking, the easiest thing for me to do was simply not buy any more cigarettes. If I didn't have them, then I couldn't smoke them. It worked. The urge still strikes all these years later, but I just don't buy them. The same theory could work with food. If I don't buy that pint of ice cream, then I can't eat that pint of ice cream. (As a side note, who actually thinks a pint of Ice cream is 4 servings? Come on!) If I don't order 2 double cheeseburgers with a large fry and drink, I can't eat them. Does it take discipline? Absolutely. Do I fail at doing this? Absolutely. Should I make a better effort? You know I should! So here are some things we can TRY to do to help us make a little healthier food choices. Remember to check with your doctor before making any drastic dietary changes. Nothing here is drastic, but little changes can lead to big results.

  1. Don't "Up-Size" your fast food meals: The regular size will do just fine as long as we...
  2. Eat Slower: It takes the body 20 minutes to realize it is full AFTER we have ingested enough food. Eating slower allows the signal to get from the stomach to the brain that lets you know you are full. This will allow you to...
  3. Ingest fewer calories: The old formula still works If you take in less calories than you burn, you will lose weight. The weight doesn't come off fast, but it didn't go on fast, either. 
  4. Drink more water: Drinking water before you eat helps to make you feel full, quicker. Sometimes when you are hungry, simply drinking a bottle of water will make the hunger pangs go away.
  5. Do everything in moderation: I am not going to tell you to cut anything out of your diet. That is between you and your doctor. But if you do decide to have a piece of cake, make it a little smaller piece. If you order a big meal at a sit-down restaurant, take some home for leftovers the next day. Not only will this lower your daily calorie intake, but it will save you some money. 

I hope some of these tips help. Now I just need to practice what I preach. It is difficult, and I don't always make the right decisions. I will try to though, and I hope if you need to, maybe you will too. I'll see you at the Salad Bar.


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Clark W Reed

Clark Reed of Roscoe, Illinois is an OTR company driver and trainer for Nussbaum Transportation based out of Hudson, Illinois. He has been driving since 2005 and has driven van, reefer, and tanker. He currently hauls dry van to all lower 48 states. Clark is passionate about MPGs and how driver habits influence them. The lifetime average of his 2018 Cascadia is 9.75 mpg, with eyes on 10. Clark, along with Henry Albert, was one of the seven drivers in 2017's "Run on Less" by NACFE, a road show, demonstrating what fuel efficiency can be obtained with existing technologies.

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