Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Fit menu may not be so fit. Watch and order carefully.

Any driver who stays away from home more than a night or two is certain to have visited a truck stop restaurant at some point.  Some driver enjoy the camaraderie if sitting at the counter recalling stories of the glory days of trucking.  Apparently, the current glory days do not include a long life span.  The Centers for Disease Control reports the average life expectancy of a truck driver is 61 years.  Worse, an OOIDA study says the average age of death of their members is 55.7!  This may be due to a number of factors but the underlying statistics are alarming.  While you are at the counter reminiscing about that time when nine drivers pulled over to help you change a flat, lets get a little closer look at the menu.
Many truck stops no matter if it is their own restaurant or and outside company have some type of "healthy" or "fit" symbol or icon to indicate that the item is either less fat or less calories or some such thing.  I generally recommend ordering from these items but use caution here.  I found a chicken breast sandwich on one of these menus that was fried and included your choice of coleslaw or french fries.  Just because you are eating chicken does not make a dish a healthy option.  When ordering something like this, stick with grilled and always ask for a whole-grain bun.  Also, just say no (apologies to Mrs. Reagan) to the french fries.  Ask if you can substitute a fruit or vegetable plate.  Remember, it should not be an imposition for the restaurant to do this for you.  They are in business to serve you, the customer.
 With all the menu choices sometimes it may seem easier to just take a trip to the buffet.  Make that the soup and salad bar and we have a deal.  One soup and one salad.  Get the broth based soup, like vegetable or barley (the favorite of my wife).  A salad should be as colorful as possible.  Fill up here, make a huge salad of all the colors available.  Find the low-calorie dressing and get a small amount of this in a cup on the side.  You can dip your salad in your side dressing. 
Many fish items are baked but you should ask the wait staff how the fish is prepared.  It can be baked on a plain sheet or many establishments will bake in oil (ostensibly to maintain moisture).  This simple question can be a 500 calorie difference.  If the person serving you does not know the answer, make them go ask the cook.  Its your health we are talking about here.
As we see, simply choosing the "fit" item may not be enough.  In fact, I consider some of these menus to be outright fraud.  In the final analysis, it is up to us to be sure of what we are putting in our bodies.  Ask questions and continue to ask until you get the answer you are seeking.  Make better choices every day toward your goal of living healthy.  Don't become just another statistic for the CDC to record.  Until next time, Healthy Trucking!

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