A recent study out of China indicated that a junk food diet contributes to fatigue among commercial motor vehicle drivers. A sample of 389 male truck drivers from Suzhou, China answered questions about food frequency, fatigue, and driving behaviors and attitudes.
The four patterns of diets studied by the researchers included vegetable-rich, staple foods (carbs, unrefined grains, dairy products, and eggs), snacks (desserts, fried foods, and high-sugar drinks), and animal-based (fish and poultry).
The study found that the vegetable-rich diet was linked to positive driving behaviors, while the animal-based diet increased the risk of errors and routine driving violations. Drivers who mainly ate snacks were more likely to experience fatigue and engage in poor driving behavior.
Tips for Eating Healthy
Truck drivers have easy access to super sized candy bars, soda, cheeseburgers, fries, and chips at truck stops, while restaurant specials tempt drivers with high-calorie meals low on nutrition. To maintain good health and stay safe while on the road, truck drivers must intentionally plan to eat healthy.
1. Meal prep.
The best way to reduce the risk of bingeing on junk food is to pre-pack healthy meals and snacks. Refrigerate or freeze foods and bring an oven or microwave to heat up meals.
For breakfast, pack fruits, granola bars, yogurt, and healthy fats, such as eggs or chicken. For lunch, throw together a salad or vegetable dish and enjoy some unsalted nuts.
2. Eat at least three times a day.
Take the time to eat a proper meal at least three times a day to avoid overeating once you get hungry. Your body needs to be replenished on a regular basis to stay energized and focused.
3. Avoid the food aisles at the truck stops.
If the donuts and soda are hard to resist, avoid browsing those aisles or walking into a truck stop. Restock your fridge at a grocery store and create a list to avoid purchasing unhealthy foods.
4. Minimize snacking.
Your body needs rest between meals and snacking negatively affects your appetite. If you must snack, choose fruits and vegetables over processed foods.
5. Stay hydrated.
Drink lots of water to curb hunger and avoid the dangerous effects of dehydration. Stay away from caffeinated or highly sweet drinks.