To Eat Unhealthy, or Not At All – Is Junk Food Better Than No Food?

We received the following question on our Facebook page, which sparked a pretty good discussion:  Is junk food better than no food?

Curious situation: no fridge, no microwave. You are on your way to make your first delivery and you know you will have to sit your 10 hours out there. No access to food or water. So you stop at the only place open and there are NO HEALTHY OPTIONS (seriously). Question: Is it better to snack on junk, or nothing at all but water? I chose not to eat, however I know the body will store fat once it hits starvation mode.

This has only happened once – we now have a fridge and more option to stores, but what would you have chosen?

This is a great question when it comes to truck driver health — is it better to eat something “bad” for you, or skip the snack/meal and stay hungry?

We took to Facebook to ask fellow healthy truckers their opinion on the matter. Check out what they said in the post below, and keep reading for our tips and insight on the matter.

 

Highlights:

Drive Thru Junk Food

Image via _skynet, Flickr

“If they had fried chicken, I’d peel the skin off. There is always a way…” – Tina M.

“I would eat because it’s just today. Tomorrow I can find something healthy and get back on track. But if I didn’t eat, I would be so starved tomorrow that I probably wouldn’t make healthy choices, thus ruining 2 days.” – Tammy C.

“I’d have dug in the cold cooler. Most stops have prepackaged hard boiled eggs, jerky of about 5 varieties, natural fruit cups or veggie dippers, cheese sticks (unless you’re totally strict on the dairy), and most stores usually have a can of tuna or two. If there was any sort of restaurant around, one can always deconstruct even a horrible fast food joint into something we can eat. Your chicken comes from Tyson and beef from National Beef and everything else from Sysco’s frozen hell, but better than nothing.” – Lora T.

What Happens When You Skip a Meal

First of all, let’s talk about what happens when we skip meals. Obviously it makes us hungrier, which means we’re more likely to binge and eat in excess the next time we do get a chance to sit down and eat. On top of the potential for binging later, you’re depriving your body of nutrients by skipping meals.  This can lead to fatigue, among other things.

It’s true that eventually, metabolism will slow and your body will enter starvation mode to try and compensate for low calories. This means the body will hold onto fat, and burn muscle instead. Granted, missing one or two meals won’t screw things up too much — it’s still not a good habit to begin.

The Ideal

In a perfect world, we’d all have coolers and trucks stocked full of healthy snacks to tide us over in emergencies like this. If there’s room on the truck, it definitely makes sense to stock up on fresh fruit and healthy, high protein snacks to be prepared in a pinch. But we realize that’s not always an option.

Bad Food or No Food?

My personal opinion on the matter (Please keep in mind I’m not a nutritionist) is that I’d rather eat a little “junk” food then deprive myself so much that I binged on the next meal. I agree with Tammy above – I’d rather get back on track the next day than ruin two days’ of healthy eating. There are always some healthy-ish options — OK, maybe not healthy, but… less-bad than others — at fast food joints and convenience stores if you know what to look for.

At Convenience Stores

Many gas stations/convenience stores offer small snacks like bags of nuts, beef jerky, string cheese, canned or fresh fruit, cottage cheese, and granola or protein bars. Try to get something with a fair amount of protein to tide you over until a more fulfilling meal.

Fast Food Restaurants

At fast food joints, think about how to make an unhealthy meal a tad more nutritious. A hamburger without the bun and with extra veggies is an easy way to get some protein without loading up on carbs. Some fast food salads can be deceptively bad, but a basic side salad or chicken Caesar salad, light on the dressing, is better than nothing. Grilled is almost always a better choice than crispy or fried.

If no healthy options are available, the next thing I would do is get something, split the meal in half, and save the rest for later. Restaurants often times serve way more than one serving of food anyway, so this is an easy way to cut back on overall intake while still getting some food in your system, even if it’s not the healthiest.

What do you think – is junk food better than no food?


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About Amanda

Amanda is a former digital communications coordinator and frequent blogger for the TheHealthyTrucker.net, a website focused on truck driver health initiatives. Our mission is to encourage truck drivers to embrace a healthier lifestyle by providing both expert advice and real world experiences. Let us be your co-driver on the road to a healthier, happier life!