Healthy food choices for drivers


Truck driving and fast food seem to be an almost natural combination – if the countless roadside cafes, stalls and takeaways are anything to go by. Is this drivers’ favourite pit stop something to be welcomed or are some words of caution due?

What is fast food?

There is nothing intrinsically wrong in the description of a meal as fast food. It a general sense it simply means food that has been prepared with the minimum of fuss and bother, from typically simple ingredients, normally bought on a takeaway basis, and invariably cheap to buy.

In a more commonly accepted sense, however, fast food has come to comprise menus almost exclusively heavy on fat, saturated fats, calories and sodium – perhaps most typically served in the form of a burger and chips – washed down with a sugary, fizzy drink.

Why is bad for you?

Fast food – of the junk food variety such as greasy burgers and chips – is widely acknowledged to be bad if eaten on a regular, daily basis.

According to some sources, such as Healthy Eating, such a diet may lead to diabetes, depression, nutrient deficiencies, high sodium levels (potentially causing high blood pressure and liver, heart and kidney diseases) and even depression.

The serious illnesses and conditions that might affect lorry drivers living only on a diet of such junk food, might even affect their ability to work safely – and hence the validity of their HGV insurance.

Some good news

The good news is that the occasional fast food dinner is unlikely to cause a great deal of harm; the even better news is that there are plenty of healthy alternatives.

One of the great ways of keeping hunger pangs at bay, for example, is to switch to snacks that have a high fibre content – staples such as porridge, muesli, bran flakes, shredded wheat, and dried fruits. In a rather graphic account, the BBC experimented by measuring the noticeably improved rates of digestion in two lorry drivers who were given a diet including just 50g of fibre a day over a ten day period.

Whilst higher fibre content may be good for your digestive system, there are other handy tips which might help reduce the risk of heart disease:

  • try to eat fatty meat on an occasional rather than a daily basis;
  • eat oily fish, a limited amount of dairy products and unsalted nuts;
  • choose food that has been cooked in olive oil rather than in butter;
  • reduce your intake of carbohydrates and stock up on dishes made from rice, pasta, pulses (beans) or wholemeal bread; and, of course,
  • remember to eat daily proportions of a variety of fruit and vegetables.

Timing

One of the possible temptations of junk food is that it appears to fill you up fast and puts paid to your immediate hunger. A healthy diet though is likely to be one that sees you eating smaller portions more times of the day, rather than one big meal. One of the reasons for this is that eating a little but often tends to accelerate your metabolism, which helps your body to digest what you are eating more efficiently.

As to the times of such frequent, smaller meals, there are no absolute rules, although it clearly makes sense to eat first thing in the morning, when you “break fast” from a night’s sleeping without food.