Fuelling up with the right food, staying hydrated on the road, and moving our bodies are key to good health and wellbeing. In this blog we give some practical tips, and easy food swaps that can help you lift your nutrition and wellbeing game.

With many truck drivers on the road for long periods of time, getting enough exercise and reaching for a healthy snack can be a challenge sometimes.

Registered dietitian, Sarah Percy, shared with us some tips on how a few small changes can be easily incorporated into daily life, and soon add up to big improvements.

Sarah’s approach is everything is moderation, no need to change your entire life. “I don’t believe in massive overhauls, and I’m not saying never eat a pie or a burger ever again. But actually, one or two small positive steps, done consistently, can add up to really big improvements.”

So next time you think about reaching for a pie at the bakery, maybe trying choosing the chicken salad sandwich instead.

Fuel up

Unsurprisingly, Sarah says good nutrition is very important to health and wellbeing.

Just like a truck needs fuel and oil for the engine, and looking after the vehicle is essential to its performance, our bodies are no different, at work and in our personal life. “And how people are living personally really affects how they are working in the workplace, it’s hard to untangle the two.”

In the short term, good nutrition will:

  • Reduce fatigue levels by stabilising blood sugars. Stats show that when people are fatigued, that’s when accidents are more likely to happen.
  • Strengthen our immune system (particularly relevant in the current pandemic climate)
  • Boost energy levels
  • Increase concentration

In the long term, good nutrition contributes to reducing the risk of a raft of undesirable conditions – heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.

BE PREPARED: Her top tip is to be prepared. “It’s obvious, but worth stating. To eat well, we need to be prepared. If we have good choices on hand and don’t rely on grabbing things on the go, we tend to eat better.”

NOURISHING START: Starting the day with a nourishing meal is the best way to set yourself up for success. An option like poached eggs on grainy toast, a smoothie, muesli with milk and yoghurt or a baked bean and cheese toastie will set you up for stable blood sugar, good energy levels and nutrients for the day.

SMALL STEPS: Rather than focusing on what you can’t have, Sarah likes to focus on positive nutrition – what can you add in to your diet that will nourish you and help you feel good? Some suggestions:

  • Fresh veggies – could you add an extra spoonful at dinner?
  • Salad in your sandwich at lunch
  • Fruit – take some with you in the cab
  • Legumes are an important food group – try baked beans, chilli beans with mince, or chickpeas in hummus

SMART SHOPPING: Here are some ideas of easy snacks you can chuck in the trolley when you get the groceries and take with you to work:

  • Little tins or sachets of tuna
  • Fresh fruit
  • Wholegrain crackers
  • Eggs (to be hard-boiled)
  • Pre-made toasted sandwiches
  • Pre-made bliss balls

H2O on the go

Don’t forget the water. It’s plentiful and free from the tap.

Sarah explains that when we’re dehydrated, our cells shrink, which impairs concentration and performance. By the time we feel thirsty, it’s too late, and we’re already dehydrated.

“We want to try and maintain hydration levels, particularly as we head into hotter weather. It’s even more important when sitting in an air conditioned environment, like a truck.

“Water is best for hydration. Soft drinks, energy drinks and sports drinks tend to be loaded with sugar and can cause spikes in our blood sugar levels. These drinks aren’t filling, yet have a huge amount of sugar and calories that can easily slip down, withut leaving you feeling particularly satisfied.”

Carry water with you in the truck. Sarah’s tip here is to fill two large water bottles the night before, put one in the fridge and one in the freezer. The next morning you’ll have cool water to drink and, by the time you reach for the second bottle, it should be defrosted but still cool.

Get moving

Exercise also plays a vital role in boosting our overall health and wellbeing, mentally and physically.

Our bodies are not designed to sit for long periods and Sarah suggests micro-breaks, this could be during a toilet stop or while waiting to be loaded. “It might sound naff, but it’s a good opportunity to move, do some stretches or some squats or lunges.”

Make exercise a priority, either before or after work. It could be going for a walk, a run, mountain biking or playing touch.

Consider how you could build some non-structured exercise into your day. It could be playing with a ball with your kids, or choosing to walk to the dairy for milk instead of driving.

 

Recipe – Lunchtime pie

Try this simple recipe that Sarah developed for Farmstrong – the lunchtime (or breakfast) pie.

Despite its name, this pie is delicious served at any time of the day. Make a double batch and freeze individual slices – take them out the night before for a quick, portable lunch the next day. A slice of lunchtime pie also makes a fantastic breakfast option if you need a quick, nourishing bite to eat.

 

Easy swaps

Bakery: instead of pie and doughnut     TRY       chicken or beef and salad roll/sandwich, fruit

Takeaways: instead of a burger or fried chicken    TRY        Subway/Pita pit sandwich or salad

Fish shop: instead of fish and chips     TRY     salmon or tuna sushi

Drink: instead of energy/soft drinks     TRY     water

Sweet snack: instead of a chocolate bar     TRY     OSM bar (one square meal) or a small dark chocolate bar

 

Sarah Percy and Sarah Donaldson run TEA Health and Wellbeing, dedicated to helping individuals and organisations achieve their health and wellbeing goals in the private, corporate and rural sectors. Their business also provides education and support to employers and employees in health and wellbeing https://tea-retreats.co.nz/