Van drivers: how to eat healthily on the road

Workplace and wellbeing

3 May 2017

The “grab’n’go” food available in service stations and garages is quick and convenient when you’re on the road. However, it can be packed full of salt and fat, and leave you feeling uncomfortably sluggish.

A lorry driver recently made headlines for preparing lunch on the hard shoulder of the M25. As well being gobsmacked at the risk he took setting up a motorway kitchen, we were all captivated by his healthy ingredients. No truck-stop pasty here, but fresh tomatoes and spring onions.

Now we’re not saying you should make any meals on the motorway. In fact, eating while the vehicle is moving could even be considered a distraction, so it’s always better to stop at a safe place to enjoy your lunch. However, we can all learn from this healthy-eating trucker, and try a new approach to on-the-road snacks.

Quick and healthy

Grabbing a sausage roll is simple and needs no prep – but don’t ignore other fast-food options. Many service station supermarkets sell ready-prepared cartons of salad, dips and fruit. A bag of sliced carrots or peppers dipped into hummus is an easy and delicious lunch. A banana will slowly release energy, great for an afternoon boost.

Coffee may give an instant energising hit, but this soon wears off, so drink water or smoothies with your lunch.

Here’s one we prepared earlier

Don’t just rely on service stations for lunch. Save money and eat well for less by packing a lunch box. A few simple substitutions make a substantial difference. Swap white for wholemeal bread in sandwiches, as it’s better for slow-release energy. Or reduce the carbohydrate content by using a wrap instead of bread. Improve your calcium intake by adding Greek yoghurt instead of mayonnaise.

Treats and snacks

This can be a trickier one for busy drivers, as a mid-afternoon bar of chocolate feels like a real treat. Try a cereal bar instead, or a bag of nuts. Again, these are often available at the grab’n’go sections at checkouts. Replace crisps with lightly salted popcorn for an equally delicious but less fatty snack.

Know what you’re eating

The “traffic light system” on packaging indicates the amount of fats, salt and sugars in the food: red is high, amber medium and green low. Download the Change4Life Be Food Smart app, which has a barcode-scanning facility that tells you what’s inside the product. Change4Life is NHS approved, and their website has helpful hints about how to eat healthily, while still enjoying your food.

What are your tips for staying healthy when on the go? Tell us your tips and recipes in the comments below.