by Alana Gale

Seeing as it’s National Truck Driver Appreciation Week and we at RTS are so grateful for all the loads you drivers have helped us get done, we wanted to load you up with information on how to stay healthy in the transportation industry.

Yeah, yeah, we know–we’re not the first people to give you advice on this (and we probably won’t be the last). But working with drivers directly through our sister company RTS Lines means we know how you feel. We know the hours you work, the difficulty of finding a place to park at certain restaurants, the struggle of grabbing sleep when you can. We understand, and we’ve found some easy ways to be healthier despite those challenges, if you want.

1. Pack a cooler. Hannah Parker, a Registered Dietitian and Patient Coordinator at The Logan Institute for Health & Wellness, explains that packing a cooler is not just good for saving a few bucks—it’ll keep you from consuming lots of calorie-laden processed foods. Here are some of the suggestions she makes for what to stock up on:

  • deli meat, hard-boiled eggs, “clean” jerky, cheese sticks, leftover rotisserie chicken, or protein bars for protein
  • carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, salsa, guacamole, or hummus for veggies
  • fresh and seasonal fruit or unsweetened applesauce
  • trail mix, coconut chips, or olives for healthier fats
  • overnight oats (see her recipe below), Greek yogurt, cottage cheese

And don’t forget to bring portable silverware, some food storage containers, and a can opener!

2. Change the way you eat out. We know that it’s impossible to always come prepared with a cooler (or that when you’re on a long haul, it’s nice to stop for a proper meal just to socialize and stretch your legs). Luckily, Parker also offers some tips for finding a healthy meal when you do go out. One of those tidbits: “Order a leaner meat like poultry or fish, hold the bread, and place fillings on a garden salad instead.” Plus, she recommends choosing boiled or grilled meat instead of fried and exchanging fries for another side such as “steamed veggies, coleslaw, cottage cheese, a side salad, or fruit.”

3. Find the whole grains. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), whole grains are good sources of dietary fiber, which can help lower cholesterol as well reduce the risk of getting heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes. And this isn’t too difficult to fix—instead of eating chips as a snack, have whole-grain crackers or even popcorn. Still convenient to store in your rig? Check. Still satisfies that craving for something crunchy? Check.

4. Stop with the pop. Whether the state you happen to be driving through at that moment calls it “soda,” “cola,” or “pop,” it’s better to limit your consumption of it. (Correct answer, by the way: pop. ????) Parker describes how an average can of soda has almost ten teaspoons of sugar in it, and notes that if you must have caffeine, opt for black coffee or unsweetened tea. Otherwise, her advice is to stick with water (but she adds that you can try unsweetened flavored water or add lemon if you want a little more taste).

It can be hard when you’re constantly on the move to incorporate a healthy diet into your lifestyle, but hopefully this makes it a little easier. Thanks again to Hannah Parker for taking the time to give us such great input on healthy food choices, and thanks to the AHA for having such good info on their website (I’ll probably try some of these tips for myself, too!).

What do you do for your health that we didn’t mention? At RTS, we’re constantly looking for new ways to ensure the health, comfort, and safety of carriers and drivers, so we’d love to hear from you—let us know your health tips in the comments.

And once again, happy Truck Driver Appreciation Week! We’d be lost without you (you’re like the GPS to our unfamiliar lane, or the low-fat peanut butter to our no-sugar-added jelly)!

Hannah Parker (RD)’s Recipe for Overnight Oats:

  • ½ c old-fashioned oats
  • 1 c unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • ½ c blueberries
  • 2 Tbsp slivered almonds
  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate overnight.