Healthy truck stop food: Does it exist?
Whether you’re a long-haul driver or just someone who’s stopped along the highway on a family road trip, you know how overwhelming it can be to try and find something healthy to eat in a truck stop. I’ve been to several, and they tend to have similar options, including some healthy ones!
If you walk in and just walk around aimlessly, you’ll likely end up with something unhealthy; but if you know what you’re looking for, it makes the decision making a lot easier, and you’ll not only buy something healthier, but you’ll also save time.
First, head to the convenience section. Here you’ll find the chips, chocolate, and soda…but that’s not what we’re getting. Take a look around and you’ll find:
- Fresh fruit & veggies, usually pre-cut up – the quality can vary, but they’re almost always available and are always worth checking out. The price can vary, but I’ve found some that are far more affordable than even a bag of chips. The more produce you can get into your diet on the road, the better!
- Granola & protein bars – give the label a quick read to find ones that have fewest ingredients and the lowest amount of sugar.
- Nuts, including walnuts, almonds, and cashews. There’s always a variety of what’s available, so go for unsalted and raw if available.
- Beef jerky – no, it’s not the healthiest, but it can be a great way to get some protein in a pinch. Get the low-sodium if you can, and try not to have it too often.
- Canned salmon and tuna – full of protein and healthy fats, and can be used many different ways as a snack or part of a meal.
- Finally, grab a big jug of water to keep in the truck! Aim for 2 litres a day. If you’re drinking pop or energy drinks, now is the time to start cutting back. More on that another time!
Once you’ve picked up some snacks, head to the restaurant area if you need more food.
- First, find some veggies! This can be tough in fast-food style restaurants, but they usually carry salads. Buffets and regular menus will
- (almost always) have a choice of vegetables as well, but it’s up to you to actually choose and eat them! They may be hidden on the menu, or not on the menu at all, so be sure to ask the staff or server! If you focus on getting your veggies first, you won’t forget them.
- Next, pick your protein. Quality over quantity here. You don’t need a huge serving of meatloaf, steak, or fried chicken, just choose a minimally processed type of meat (ie. not lunch meat and not fried meat) to have as part of your meal.
- When it comes to sides, a serving of potatoes or rice is a good idea, but stay away from French fries. Cut back on bread as well – if it’s part of a sandwich or burger consider removing part of it, and stay away from dinner rolls which add unnecessary carbs to an already complete meal.
- Feel like you “need” dessert? Stick with fruit, a sweet way to end a meal without doing any harm to your health. Get into this habit if you’re a dessert-lover, and soon you won’t even miss the unhealthy options.
- Remember, you do not have to eat everything on your plate! Eat slowly when possible – I know you’re busy – but this will allow you to enjoy the food and decide when you are full. It takes 20 minutes for your brain to realize that you’ve had enough food, so eating too quickly can cause you to overeat.
- If you’re struggling to find something healthy, a burger can sometimes be a safety net. Load it up with lettuce, tomatoes, and onion, and skip the cheese and bacon. Skip the fries and ask for veggies or potato on the side instead if available.
Eating well in a truck stop doesn’t always come easy, but there are more healthy options available than you may think. Look around, ask some questions, and use all the willpower you have and you’ll be fine! If all you can find is something unhealthy, keep your portion limited and do your best to find something healthier for your next meal. Don’t forget to stock your truck with healthy foods from the grocery store as often as you can to prevent unexpected unhealthy meals!