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Healthy Eating is a Choice

By on July 1, 2018
healthy

Take Control of Where & What You Eat

BY: DR. JOHN McELLIGOTT, DR. JOHN’S MEDICAL SOLUTIONS

Recently, I received a call from a trucker who has a blog. He wanted to know my thoughts about fast food in truck stops. I put my thinking cap on, reviewed my own diet, and thought about what I’ve ordered at truck stops in the recent past. Some random thoughts ran through my mind, but one thought stood out. Was the food I ordered typically delivered to me fast, or slow?

I’m a little slower these days, so most of the truck stop restaurants I visit offer sit-down (slow) food. Recently, and for this article, I visited a truck stop that only offered takeout fast food. What was the difference?

First, let’s discuss some observed behavior at sit-down restaurants. The venue is more relaxed, with a personal touch from the staff taking my order and delivering my food. I see lots of smiles all around. I often notice restaurant employees know some of the drivers by name, which I really liked. The drivers are typically reading or catching up with other truckers and laughing. No one seems to be in a hurry. Some order off the menu, and some go to the salad bar. Now this is where the food choices were most obvious and made me think about fast vs slow. Let’s start with a few observations.

Salads are popular. Depending on how you spice up your lettuce and tomatoes, salad can be good or bad, whether it’s fast food or slow food. Most drivers heaped large amounts of dressing on their salads; only a very few used oil and vinegar. This is where I noticed the difference between slim and overweight drivers. The few who used oil and vinegar were slimmer and the heapers of dressing were mostly overweight. Remember, though, that too much oil and vinegar can contain too much fat for a healthy diet. Portion size (small, medium, large) tended to be larger for those carrying extra pounds.

Drivers who order off the menu are often big, but not always. The food ordered is usually a mix of grilled meats, fried chicken, or burgers and fries. Very few drivers chose grilled fish or chicken. The typical portion size for menu orders is medium, and mashed potatoes with gravy are always a favorite. The time at a table is about 30 to 45 minutes and relaxed.

Differences in Fast Food Offerings

Takeout fast food can be very different than sit-down or food-court fast food. While menu choices are intended to be fast, the staff should be friendly and accommodating. The fastest of the fast limit you to pizza, burgers, or maybe a roller-grill hot dog. Vegetables are mostly offered as toppings, with a rare opportunity to order a veggie sandwich. Favor those that provide seating, rather than forcing you to eat in your cab.

How does professional driver eating, fast or slow, differ from how others approach mealtime? Outside of transportation, the biggest difference is the public does not have imposed restrictions. They are not regulated as to when, where, and how long they can stop for a meal break. Drivers and non-drivers can choose to eat anywhere they want. However, add limited parking availability, other restrictions, HOS regs and ELDs, and dispatchers demanding no schedule variations, and it becomes clear why truck drivers gravitate toward fast food.

Truck stop menus are full of choices—some very healthy and some less so. Not all restaurants cater to the healthy eating and parking needs of truckers. Choose the truck stops and restaurants that do. In all cases, slow food doesn’t have to be all that slow. You can order healthy food to go! Use apps to identify a trucker friendly establishment and call in a “to go” order. Fast or slow, food boils down to what you choose to eat.

On average, truckers—both male and female—are about 10-20 pounds heavier than non-truckers. This does not have to be the case. You start down the road to getting and staying fit one healthy choice at a time.

Remember, you are what you eat! Fast or slow food: your choice. Just make it healthy. Read menus and ask the right questions. Your employer may tell you where to refuel. Your body should tell you where to dine. Favor truck stops that offer healthy food choices. Start with oil and vinegar, Dr. John’s favorite dressing. To learn more about Dr. John’s Medical Solutions, go to docjmd.com.

10 Tips for a Healthier You

  1. Walk. Slowly increase your length, speed and frequency. Remember, people who walk fast live longer, are healthier, and are more mentally sharp. Stop where you’ll find walking trails.
  2. Water is your best hydration source. Limit your soft drink and juice intake.
  3. Eliminate simple carbohydrates (sugars) from your diet. You get enough sugar from complex carbohydrates.
  4. Vegetables are good for you. Learn how each kind improves your body.
  5. Fruits that are not processed are good, but in moderation.
  6. Choose grilled fish and chicken, limit fried. Red meat, pasta, and dairy are OK, but in moderation.
  7. Do not add salt to your food; 2000 mg/day is plenty. Your taste buds will adapt over time. Processed foods are loaded with salt. Be sure to read labels, especially on canned foods.
  8. Get at least 15 minutes of sunshine every day. Sunshine activates Vitamin D.
  9. Chew your food at least 2O times, or until it is soft, and wash it down with water. This gives your body the time it needs to recognize something new is in your stomach and that hunger is going away.
  10. Have an occasional treat or favorite food; don’t deprive yourself to the point of giving up. Good health is a lifelong journey. Set goals. Monitor. Build on your successes.

About Mimaro S. Abasacovabu

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