If you’ve been following The Healthy Trucker for a while, you know we’re pretty adamant about avoiding truck stops and stopping for groceries at the nearest Walmart or supermarket instead. But sometimes you have no other option than to grab something from the truck stop. With so many options, how are you to know what’s healthy — or at least, not TERRIBLE for you — and what’s not? Today we’re going to help with the “what’s not”. We asked our Facebook fans for their recommendations on the most unhealthy truck stop food. Here are 9 of the worst foods available at truck stops.
1. Anything Under a Heat Lamp
A couple questions you should ask yourself when debating scarfing down anything you find under a heat lamp:
1) How long has this questionable meat product been sitting here?
2) What exactly is IN this questionable meat product?
Items that you’ll find sitting under a faux oven are difficult because the nutritional information isn’t readily available unless you specifically ask the truck stop attendant for it. Which by all means you can, but it’s pretty safe to assume truck stop hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, and fried chicken glistening with grease aren’t the healthiest meal options. Generally speaking, it’s best to avoid anything that’s been “heating” for who knows how long.
2. Ramen/Cup Noodles
They may be cheap in price, but they’re also cheap in nutritional content as well. These cup noodles are deep-fried in oil prior to packaging and contain tons of fat (and not the good kind), sodium, MSG, and preservatives. And did you know that a serving size on a block of Maruchan instant ramen is half a block? That’s right, half a block of ramen. Good luck sawing that chunk of cardboard in half. If you’re a normal person who eats the entire package of ramen in one sitting (as one would expect), you’re looking at 380 calories, 14 grams of fat (7 grams saturated), and 1,520 milligrams of sodium. Also questionable “ingredients.” I know they’re convenient because they’re easy to prepare with limited appliances and in a confined space (I ate quite a few cup noodles at school) but they really offer nothing in the ways of nutrition. If you’re craving pasta, you might as well go for a real, legitimate noodle.
There’s pretty much only one muffin that’s a healthy muffin — a whole wheat English muffin (Bran muffins can be healthy too but portion size often throws off the health factor of them). In fact, muffins are one of the absolute worst breakfast foods you can eat. Take those packaged Otis Spunkmeyer muffins, for example. A serving size for one of their regular chocolate chip muffins is one half of a muffin. Again, who’s only going to eat one half of a muffin?! So assuming you eat the whole thing like most normal people would, you’re taking in 500 calories, 26 grams of fat, 65 grams of carbs, 6 grams of protein and 38 grams of sugar (mostly added, of course). It might taste delicious, but the energy boost will only last a short time before you crash. Eating a cupcake for breakfast would be healthier.
4. Fountain Drinks
The only thing you should be getting from a truck stop fountain is a jumbo glass of water. Those 44 ounce Big Gulps? 512 calories and 128 grams of sugar. Good luck staying awake on the road after that sugar crash. Drink water instead — you’ll just feel better.
5. Pop Tarts
Here’s a little glimpse at the ingredient list for these toaster pastries: enriched white flour (aka, wheat that’s had most nutritional benefit removed), soybean oil, sugar, sugar, and sugar (seriously, the next three ingredients are corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, and sugar). On top of that, they contain partially hydrogenated oil (trans fats). Furthermore, these puppies house 200 calories…for the suggested serving size of just one pastry. WHO ONLY EATS ONE POP TART?! They’re packaged in two’s, for crying out loud! Pop Tarts are nothing but empty calories. If you’re going to spend 400 calories on breakfast, opt for one with more protein….and without pounds of added sugar.