Trucker: the challenge of eating well on the road

Camionneur: le défi de bien manger sur la route

The job of a truck driver, with long hours behind the steering wheel and the lack of accessibility to healthy foods makes it difficult to adopt healthy lifestyle habits. Yet, Stefanie Thompson, truck driver at Trans-West makes every effort to eat well on the road. A model for the other drivers as she tries to influence by adopting a healthy lifestyle.

Stefanie, have you always wanted to be a truck driver ?

I am trained as a programmer-analyst and I switched to 25 years to the profession of bus driver for the city of Québec, it was my dream and I have done this job for 19 years. Considering the dire shortage of truck drivers, I made the transition there are more than 3 years. I have been carrying mainly fruit and vegetables from the West coast or from Florida to Quebec and Ontario. I’ve always had the taste of adventure and the travel bug, my father was a boat driver and, as a child, I went often with him.

Are there more women in the business ?

Yes, there are more and more couples who appreciate the craft as a duo, to take advantage of longer stays to discover beautiful scenery and take a day of rest before taking the road back. There are few women who choose this job without their spouse, it is true. Personally, I love this work, I did the road alone, especially in the case of a COVID, or in duo, I am always amazed with all the beautiful discoveries that I make through the United States or Canada. Loneliness has become my great partner in crime. I have a large circle of loyal friends, when I come back to Montreal and to Quebec, then to be lonely during my long roads don’t bother me at all.

How do you eat well on the road ?

I have always been careful with my diet. The job is very sedentary, you can drive 11 hours per day, we are not active. I see my colleagues take a lot of weight over the years. I am privileged, because my employer, Trans-West, has installed a large kitchen at the head office with a chief cook which is full of healthy meals (fish braised on sweet potato, tofu, curry, coconut, chili vegetarian, couscous, turkey, spinach and ricotta, etc) that you can buy for our roads. The meals are really balanced and tasty. It was a choice of breakfast to supper, including snacks. I go with my fruit cups-yogurt, my veggies and cheese or hummus, my meals for the week… I am well-equipped (with fridge, congélo, and microwave) not to stop in restaurants. My boss, Réal Gagnon, is very generous. During the COVID, it provides us free of charge, all the meals for our trip, 21 meals if I go a week. It is really appreciated by the whole team. I must admit however, if I have a night of waiting upon arriving in California, I attable restaurant in front of a big steak, a delight that I savored fully.

What are your essentials for eating well on the road ?

I always bring with me the peanuts, apples and bananas. One should think of the food you eat well and easily, and that are allowed at the border.

If you stop the formulas of fast food, what are your choices ?

I often take a salad with a source of protein at Subway or wraps-roasted chicken in other restaurants. I don’t drink any soft drink or energy drink, which give us an energy of short duration only. I prefer to concentrate on the energy that brings me to the consumption of good food. I drink a lot of water (2-3 litres per day) and I only eat very little sugar. Food that is too rich in sugar or fat hinder my energy level.

Can you move in spite of the pace of work hectic ?

Yes, it is important for my physical and mental health if I want to grow old in health. I installed a bracket in the truck and I do it regularly. I can even work my abs while driving. I’ve developed stuff to move, even with a sedentary job. I always park far to walk at each stop.

What would you say to a trucker who started his career ?

As I am a trainer, I try to influence young people so that they are moving away from the fast food to not to jeopardize their long-term health. Many develop type 2 diabetes with weight gain and bad habits. If they want to do the business for a long time, they do not have the choice to adopt a healthy lifestyle, eating well, moving well, sleeping well. Some smoke, it can significantly damage their health. We must learn to bring his meals and snacks, and making good choices at the restaurant also. When a pet is allowed, it is a good ally to get out to walk a little bit !

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