The FMCSA requires truck drivers to have a medical examination performed about every two years and this can be a very stressful time for truckers. Those with pre-existing conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes already know they're behind the curve when it comes to their exam. Trying to stay healthy truckers on the road can be a real challenge! Long hours spent sitting behind the wheel keeps you sedentary. Driving a big rig is stressful and by the end of the day most drivers just don't feel like going to the gym and eating a salad. Most truck stops don't offer healthy food options - instead you're likely to find greasy burgers, stacks of fries, fizzing sodas and sugary candy.
Plan for Success
If you're committed to getting to your next medical exam with less stress and worry then there are some simple steps you can take to be more successful.
Understand your unique nutritional needs
Plan your meals ahead of time
Get a cooler or ice chest
Bring your own snacks
Get an app
Everyone's nutritional needs and likes are different. You need to understand how your body works in order to best meet its needs, and you don't want to fall into the 'diet' trap and buy foods you don't like and will never really eat. Your nutritional needs are based on your metabolism rate, your age, your height, your current weight, and your activity level. Using a calorie needs calculator like the one located here at Active can help you figure out how many calories you need daily to maintain weight, gain weight, or lose weight. Once you know how many calories a day you need to achieve your weight goals, you can start looking at menu ideas and OTR recipes that work for you.
When we look at beginning a new diet change there is always a temptation to go too far and punish our bodies, especially if we're trying to lose weight. Don't fall for it! If you don't like to eat salads then avoid packing meals that are all salads. When you've had a stressful day and you know the only thing waiting for you back in your cab is an ice chest full of lettuce chances are you're going to head right into the truck stop and pick up a that #6 with all the fixings and a large drink to go with it.
Start small! Don't try to cut out all your 'fun' foods. Instead, go for including healthier snacks on your trips. Focus on snacks that are higher in dietary fiber and protein. Dietary fiber makes you feel fuller and protein helps to sustain your blood sugar and keeps you from getting a 'sugar high' and then crashing a little while later. Many diabetics understand this as 'low glycemic index' foods, and the idea is just as important for people who don't have diabetes.
Apps and Additional Info
Part of successfully being healthy truckers on the road is having the right tools for success. There are a number of apps that can be easily added to your smartphone that help to keep track of your activity, allow you to track your meals, and help you keep an eye on your calories and even your water intake. Many can be paired with other devices such as smartwatches and wristbands. Healthline has a list of the best apps for all different types of lifestyles. Our personal recommendations for OTR drivers are:
If you have questions about the FMCSA and what your medical exam will entail, or concerns about current or on-going health conditions you can check out the FMCSA Medical Exam FAQ for more information on what to expect and how to discuss your issues with your doctor.
Whether you drive short or long haul, keeping control of your health is in the best interest of yourself, your family and your company. There and Back Logistics is committed to helping you stay healthy and on the road. Check back regularly for updates on how to be in the best of health while you haul!