Dietitian reviews driver's food choices

Updated Jun 27, 2014


Pam Whitfield is a registered dietitian and co-author of the book “Roadcookin: A Long Haul Driver’s Guide to Healthy Eating,” which is available at and


Congratulations to Richie Nehrings. He is living proof that changing your diet can be done. Truckers have more obstacles than other professionals — but with dedication and determination, anything is possible. Here are my observations on Nehrings’ diet changes.

Regular meals

He is eating small scheduled meals. Your body looks for food every four to five hours. When you skip meals, you run the risk of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. Symptoms include feeling shaky, tired, clammy and starving. If your blood sugar gets too low, it can lead to fainting (or even coma and death in extreme situations). That’s when you feel compelled to grab an easy fix such as candy bars, chips, cookies and soda for an energy boost.

Portion control

He is eating smaller but more frequent portions. By planning meals and snacks, you’re much more likely to “eat healthy.” Slow down and enjoy your meals. You will eat less and feel fuller.

Drop saturated fat

Nehrings’ impressive switch from high saturated fat meals (sausage, eggs, cheese, butter, bacon) is not only heart healthy but the meals have fewer calories. Beef with a high saturated fat content may have more than 100 calories in 1 ounce. A lean piece of fish or chicken breast may have as few as 35-50 calories per ounce. You do the math. Even if you eat the same amount of the two types of protein, you may save hundreds of calories in one meal. Add it up over several meals or an entire week and see what you save. For every 3,500 calories you don’t eat, that’s one pound you are going to drop.

Add healthy fat

Healthy fats are found in foods like fish, lean proteins, nuts (unsalted, please), peanut butter and avocado. Also, olive oil and canola oil are better choices than butter.

Fruit and veggies

Nehrings added fruits, vegetables and whole grains in his new meal plan. Those foods all have fiber. Fiber fills us up, so we tend to eat less. Fiber also helps digestion and lowers cholesterol.

Tips for going forward

A good weight loss goal is one to two pounds per week. Build in a treat now and then. You can have an occasional piece of dark chocolate or a salty snack. I like how Richie’s wife and buddy cheer him on. A good support team can help you stay on track. I predict he will continue to lose and enjoy the health benefits.

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Breakfast (some of the following)

• 3 sausage, egg and cheese McMuffins

• Corn beef hash and eggs

• Big stack of pancakes with butter and syrup

• Bacon and eggs and home fries


• Fast food (burgers, chili, pizza, fries)

• Cold cut sandwiches

• Large soda


• Steak, fast food, fried chicken, buffet food, barbecue


• Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate: M&Ms, candy bars, chips, cookies, cakes



• Egg white omelette with vegetables

• 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter

• Coffee with no-calorie sweetener and a splash of half-and-half


• 8 ounces lean chicken

• 1/2 cup brown rice

• 4 ounces broccoli or cauliflower


• Turkey burger

• Green salad

• Small baked potato


• Fish (sole, flounder) baked

• 1/2 cup brown rice

• Yams/sweet potato