Healthy eating tips for truckies on the road

Tracey Marley, aka The Truckie Nutrition Chick, shares some top tips for eating well on the road

Tracey Marley has been a nutritionist for years, but it was only when she explored Australia in a motorhome with her daughter that she really connected with truckies – and became the Truckie Nutrition Chick. 

“It was in the wet season, and we spent a lot of time up north, and the only people we ran into on the road were truck drivers!” she says. 

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“We would get chatting and I would ask them about their background, and consistently they would tell me that their dads were truckies too. 

“And sadly, a lot of them had died from heart attacks in their 50s.

“So I thought ‘This needs attention.’” 

The nutritionist met plenty of truckies when she travelled Australia in a motorhome

Attitudes in the industry

Marley branded herself as the Truckie Nutrition Chick, to let truck drivers know that she is specifically focused on their needs. 

At first, truckies were reluctant to take her advice, but word of mouth spread slowly. 

“They would say things like, ‘Oh I didn’t drink the green shake you gave me on Friday because all the boys were having a beer. I wasn’t going to pull out a health shake in front of them!’

“There was a culture of shame over wanting to be healthy.” 

However in the seven years Marley has been working with truckies, she’s seen a big shift in attitudes towards healthy eating. 

“There has been a real change in the industry.

“Truckies realise they don’t have to drive themselves into the ground. 

“It’s not cool anymore to have a big belly and look tough.”

Marley with well-known truckie Heather Jones

Gut health

On the other hand, many truckies don’t have an awareness of issues like gut health. 

“I do talk about the big issues, but many truckies think that if they are don’t have diabetes or have to take heart medication that they are fine. 

“If your belly is swollen and tight, you are a fermenting barrel of food. You are not getting any goodness from that food. 

“Your gut makes serotonin – the natural feel good chemical that goes to your brain.

“And without serotonin, that’s where depression comes in.” 

Get educated

Marley’s number one tip for truckies who want to be healthier is that preparation is everything – but before you plan and prep your meals, you should learn a little bit more about nutrition. 

“The first thing truckies need to do is learn about what food groups are good for them,” she says. 

“Many of them don’t know, and they don’t know how to read ingredients.”  

Marley recommends clean, whole foods – and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. 

“Anything that grows on a tree or under the ground, I always say that. 

“And real meat, not frozen chicken or processed sandwich meat.”

Preparation is key

Marley knows that it can be tough to eat healthy on the road, especially if you’re an interstate driver. 

However she says a fridge/freezer and a hot plate can make the world of difference. 

“Keep it simple,” she says. “I recommend steamed veggies and grilled meats.

“Skip the gravy and the cheesy sauces and all those things.”

She also recommends keeping some healthy snacks, like nuts, fruit and rice cakes, in the truck for when you get peckish. 

Don’t blame the servo

Marley is aware that servos often have few options when it comes to nourishing food – but she says that’s not an excuse to eat badly. 

“The servo has a mortgage to pay,” she says. “You’re not their problem.

“You have to take responsibility for what goes in your mouth. 

“They have to be a big boy, or put your big girl pants on, and get themselves organised!”

She said that you can usually find something healthy in a servo, if you have the knowledge of what foods are good for you. 

“If you’re getting breakfast, you can leave the bread out, or ask them to boil some eggs for you instead of eating fried food,” she says. 

“Ask them to leave the sauce off, or grill your fish instead of deep frying it.

“Small changes can make a big difference.”

Marley at a truck show in WA

The wrong kind of drinks 

Marley says some truckies are far too reliant on caffeine, from endless cups of coffee to Coca-Cola, while others are addicted to flavoured milk. 

“I can tell who my dairy boys are when they ring me up, because they sound nasal,” she says. 

“I say ‘How much milk have you had today?’ It’s usually about a litre!

“A lot of them have sleep apnea because they are drinking way too much dairy.” 

Marley says you can easily recognise a caffeine king because they speak quickly and seem jittery. 

“They are stimulated and hyperactive and live on their adrenals, so they are prone to burn out and depression.” 

Sleep tight

Many of the truckies Marley works with have issues with their sleep. 

“Especially if they have that swollen gut, they are late to bed, tossing and turning, sleeping lightly and then they wake before their alarm.

“If they fix their diet and heal their gut, they will sleep much better. Many of them tell me their memory is better, they have less road rage, and their relationships are better because if they are lucky enough to get home at weekends, they have energy to engage with their wives and their kids.

“When truckies come to me, they usually want to lose weight. But that ends up being the last thing they care about, because they just feel so much better.”

You can find Tracey Marley (Truckie Nutrition Chick) on Facebook or
call her on 0401 067 878.

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