Healthier food options head to Love’s Travel Stops

A truck stop is located just off exit 65 on I-22 in Jasper, Alabama. It’s halfway between my hometown and Birmingham, where I often travel to visit friends.

My family doesn’t do regular gas stations unless absolutely necessary because “coffee at the truck is better,” according to my mom, a former driver.

The coffee might be better, but the food options? Not so good. At least not for someone like me who can’t eat anything. Okay, that’s hyperbole. But I can’t eat a lot – unless I want to swell like a balloon or curl up in a ball for four hours moaning in stomach pain.

I’m gluten and dairy intolerant and I’m supposed to avoid grains and added sugars as much as possible. Talk about the difficulty of eating without adequate access to healthy food options.

I could never be a truck driver.

Walk into any truck stop and one of the first things that will greet you is a warmer with hot dogs or a bacon, egg and cheese cookie, followed by a cold section with fruit cups and deli sandwiches. Hot dogs are highly processed, fruit cups alone don’t have enough protein, and you know if you’re gluten intolerant you can’t just eat the meat on the bun because if it touches it, you get sick.

I realize that not all truckers have the same health issues I do, so a turkey sandwich might not be that unhealthy, even if it is. But to save time, I’m not going to jump on my podium to say how unhealthy most foods in America are, even when marketed as healthy.

In summary, truckers don’t have many – sometimes none – healthy meal options at one of the places they frequent the most: truck stops that are usually built with a fast food chain or filled with fatty or sugary gummy foods from candies to pizza under a heat lamp.

And that’s not just my opinion based on my personal experience.

According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey that included visits to 16 truck stops across the United States, long-haul truck drivers have very little access to healthy food choices or exercise opportunities, which often leads to larger health problems ranging from obesity and hypertension to diabetes and heart disease, among others.

My grandfather drove a truck before I was born and died of heart problems just a few years after he retired. I’m not saying his career is the only cause; the precious man didn’t eat healthy at home either. But he suffered from sleep apnea, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol — which the CDC says are more likely to occur in truckers than the rest of the American workforce.

So what do you do when you’re driving 11+ hours a day with nothing but a cooler placed between the seats so you can reach in and grab a snack because you can’t stop when that load must be there at some time? There aren’t many healthy restaurants, but ones that don’t offer truck parking (if there is one that does, let me know). You can’t rock an 18-wheeler under the low clearance of a drive-thru, which we’ve already said isn’t healthy anyway. Grocery stores are generally not located right next to truck stops.

So you rely on truck stops.

Love’s recently announced that Jamba by Blendid, a provider of robotic food kiosks, is coming to several of its truck stops across the United States. Jamba offers freshly blended fruit and vegetable smoothies, made-to-order bowls, and freshly squeezed juices. and gunshots, among others. While this may or may not be an option for someone like me because the website says “not guaranteed allergen free”, at least it’s a step in the right direction.

Other truck stops have made efforts to create healthier lifestyles for drivers, such as Travel Centers of America and Petro, which offers healthier menus and snacks, exercise facilities and outdoor activities. such as walking paths in some places thanks to its StayFIT program. In 2014, Pilot Company launched PJ Fresh Marketplaces at select locations, offering fresh, healthy, and high-quality meal options.

Even with these initiatives, the majority of truck stops offer few healthy options.

And trucking companies and other businesses with truck drivers should advocate for truck stops to provide healthier options, because it all comes down to safety. You can’t worry about safety and not worry about a driver’s health.

An unhealthy diet and lack of exercise can lead to health issues that can lead to poor driving behavior. Have you ever felt sleepy after eating a sweet dessert? Not to mention that getting at least two and a half hours of vigorous physical activity a week improves sleep, reduces stress, improves alertness and reduces the risk of car accidents.

Companies should also consider their own health initiatives. They could offer exercise facilities and healthy snacks to take to their terminals or pay a membership for each driver to a place like PlanetFitness which has flexible hours and a large number of gyms across the country. There are other opportunities to improve driver health, such as health tracking apps, but more important is educating drivers about the risks they face compared to the rest of the American workforce.

You can present drivers with healthy options, and they can always choose not to take them, but knowledge and awareness of their health risks might spur them to action.

Hope truck stops and transportation companies work to improve the health of our planet by adding electric vehicles and electric vehicle charging options, among other things, that they start or continue similar efforts when It’s about fueling the driving force of the country.

About Walter Bartholomew

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