Do you struggle to stay alert while driving? You are not alone- A study by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) indicated that among long-haul drivers, 66% said they felt some degree of fatigue on half of their trips. The foods you eat and the beverages you drink (or don’t drink) could have a lot to do with that! Today I am going to tell you the top foods and drinks to help you stay alert while driving. Studies have shown that undereating, overeating, dehydration and malnutrition can badly impair our ability to combat stress which can cause fatigue and brain fog and it can decrease our ability to stay alert and focused and can also contribute to several chronic illnesses and health concerns.
Oftentimes when we think of the word malnutrition, we think about starvation or not having enough food to eat. But, did you know that malnutrition can also occur in high calorie diets? Malnutrition happens when the body does not get enough of the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients it needs to maintain healthy bodily functions whether that comes from a lack of food or simply not eating enough of the right things while eating an over abundance of the wrong things. Malnutrition from overnutrition can cause weakness, fatigue, impaired concentration, irritability, and inattention. These can be dangerous symptoms to experience behind the wheel!
Today I’d like to talk to you about some of the foods and beverages that you might be consuming that could be causing you to feel drowsy, and give you some nutrition recommendations that can help keep you more alert… especially while you’re driving.
Hydration is a key factor in combatting fatigue and many of us fall short when it comes to staying properly hydrated. Dehydration can impair concentration, short-term memory, and mood. It can cause fatigue, headaches, and muscle cramps which can disrupt your sleep at night. Just like when low fluid levels in your truck impair its performance, when you are low on fluids your body can’t perform at its peak either.
Are you drinking energy drinks and other high-octane drinks to keep yourself awake behind the wheel? Caffeinated and sugary beverages might give you a quick boost, however it is usually short-lived and followed by the dreaded crash which leads us to consume more and more in order to maintain that feeling of alertness. We become so physically dependent on caffeine in order to give us the buzz we are looking for. But is that buzz really giving us healthy energy?
The stimulant effect of caffeine can cause insomnia, anxiety, rapid heartbeat, nervousness, and more frequent urination as it also has a diuretic effect. It’s definitely best to stick with water whenever possible. A nice cool class of water can actually give you the healthy dose of energy you are looking for. A healthy hydration goal is to drink ½ of your body weight in ounces of water per day. You can easily track your hydration goals in the rolling Strong app to make sure you are staying properly hydrated throughout the day.
Now, let’s talk about some of the foods we commonly eat that can totally zap our energy levels. Calorie-dense foods that are high in refined carbohydrates, added sugars, and unhealthy fats such as processed snack foods, sweets and candy, fried foods, and any other processed junk foods are common culprits. When eaten in excess, these foods can cause you to feel sluggish because they cause your blood sugar to spike and then drop, and as a result, we feel tired!
To combat drowsiness, stick with nutrient-dense foods that are minimally processed. Balance your meals and snacks with vegetables, fruit, high fiber whole grains, low-fat dairy, lean protein sources, and healthy fats. Ditch the processed snack foods like chips, cookies, and sweets and go for healthy options like vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds, low-fat cheese or yogurt, 100% whole grains, and lean proteins sources. Opt for veggies instead of fries or chips with your meals on the go and choose grilled or baked protein options over deep fried whenever you can. I know it can seem difficult to find nutrient-dense foods on the road but there are options out there, and your coaches at Rolling Strong are always happy to help you along the way!
I’d like to share a quote with you by Ann Wigmore, an author and holistic health practitioner. She said “The food you eat can either be the safest and most powerful form of medicine, or the slowest form of poison”
That quote pretty much says it all, don’t you think?
By: Cortney Blumer, Wellness Coach