If you sit behind the wheel all day long concentrating on the road, you are bound to get hungry at some point. It is still easiest to turn off at the next services and order a meal. If your next break is not due yet, it is also easy to snack on a chocolate bar to keep you going. But it is precisely these patterns of behaviour that lead to many truck drivers putting on excess weight. If your job involves sitting, you often consume fewer calories than you eat. Making a few changes to your habits can help you battle the bulge.
1. Seeing beyond the edge of your plate
We humans are creatures of habit – often we only order food that we already know and like. Why not, if chips taste so good? Even at restaurants, there is now often a vegetarian option or the choice of lean meat. Choose the chicken with a large portion of vegetables over the schnitzel with croquettes – it’s lighter on the stomach, contains more vitamins and does not go straight onto your hips.
2. Kitchen at the side of the truck
It is even better if you completely give up buying meals at service areas. Unless you prepare your meals yourself, you cannot say exactly what’s in them. However, if you are doing the cooking yourself, you can avoid excessive use of salt, sugar and flavour enhancers. A small camping stove or a gas grill doesn’t take up much space. Many trucks now have a small fridge on board, in which you can transport your ingredients. Many fruits and vegetables do not even need to be refrigerated.
3. The craving for sugar
You cannot avoid craving something sweet to eat at some point or other. This happens especially when we are tired, hungry or just bored. It is best not to take the seductive chocolate bars on board in the first place. Eat an apple or banana instead. Even a yogurt can help. This way you avoid comfort eating in the next tailback.
4. Be careful with the drinks!
It’s just lemonade, which refreshes and tastes good – but do you know what you are doing to your body? Lemonade drinks contain excessive amounts of sugar. Taking these off the menu alone will take you one big step further. Always make sure you drink enough – but please water and unsweetened teas. If you are in the mood for something sweeter, you can resort to fruit spritzers. Pure fruit juices are far too sweet, they are even almost as on a par with lemonade. If you find water and tea too flat, try the different herbal teas. Some of these can be quite tasty, so you will hardly miss the lemonade.
5. Snacks from raw food
If you feel hungry between meals, keep off the hotdogs and the doughnuts from the service area, and choose vegetables or a piece of fruit instead. You can pack both into the truck before you set off. This way you always have it close at hand and you can keep track of how much you ate from it. This change will be relatively difficult for you at first. But once you have got used to it, you feel how much more energy you have.
6. …in the evening like a beggar
After the long day on the road, a quick meal to fill you up and then off to bed? Sounds good, but is counterproductive. If you want to get rid of some excess weight, the best strategy is to cut down a bit on your evening meal. And that does not mean the quantity, but the nutrients of the evening meal. If possible, avoid carbohydrates in the evening. Instead, treat yourself to some lean meat or scrambled eggs with plenty of vegetables. The body can quickly convert the protein, and the vegetables supply the body with important nutrients and fibre. But since it does not have to digest long-chain carbohydrates and sugar, the body can use its fat reserves while sleeping. That means you do not have to go hungry, but you can lose some weight while you sleep.
7. Coffee as an ideal pick-me-up
Of course, you should not drink too much coffee, but drinking a cup now and then helps you to maintain your concentration. A study by researchers from the University of Sydney has shown that truck drivers can reduce the probability of accidents by 63% by consuming coffee. If that’s not a good reason to start the day with a delicious cup of coffee! But please refrain from adding spoonfuls of sugar to your hot drink.
Summary: After changing your diet, everything is very simple
The first step is always the hardest – including when changing your diet. But once you get used to it, you will feel how much fitter and more content you are overall. Moreover, none of these rules are set in stone. If you would like to have a piece of chocolate or a lemonade, nothing should stop you as long as you generally keep to your new habits. If you then get as much exercise as possible in your breaks, you will soon start to shed those extra pounds.
Read more about making your life as a truck driver healthier in our post ‘What you can do as a professional driver to reduce your back pain!’