The profession of trucker, with the long hours behind the wheel and the lack of accessibility to healthy food, makes it difficult to adopt healthy lifestyle habits. However, Stéfanie Théberge, a trucker at Trans-West, does everything to eat well on the road. A role model for the other truckers she tries to influence by adopting a healthy lifestyle.
Stéfanie, have you always dreamed of being a trucker?
I am trained as a programmer-analyst and I branched out at the age of 25 for the bus driver profession for Quebec City, it was my dream and I did this profession for 19 years. Considering the dire lack of truckers, I made the transition over 3 years ago. I mainly transport fruits and vegetables from the West Coast or Florida to Quebec and Ontario. I have always had a taste for adventure and a taste for travel, my father was a boat pilot and, as a child, I often went with him.
Are there more and more women in the trade?
Yes, there are more and more couples who appreciate the profession as a duo, question of taking advantage of long stays to discover beautiful landscapes and take a day of rest before taking the road back. There are few women who choose this profession without their spouse, that’s true. Personally, I love this work, whether I travel alone, especially in case of COVID, or as a duo, I am always amazed with all the beautiful discoveries that I make while crossing the United States or Canada. Loneliness has even become my great accomplice. I have a large circle of loyal friends when I come back to Montreal and Quebec, so being alone during my long drives doesn’t bother me at all.
How do you manage to eat well on the road?
I always paid attention to my diet. The job is very sedentary, we can drive 11 hours a day, we are not very active. I see my colleagues gaining a lot of weight over the years. I am privileged, because my employer, Trans-West, installed a large kitchen at the head office with a chef who makes lots of healthy meals (braised fish on sweet potato, curry-coconut tofu, veggie chili, couscous, spinach turkey and ricotta, etc.) that we can buy for our roads. The meals are really balanced and tasty. We have choices from breakfast to dinner to snacks. I leave with my fruit-yogurt cups, my raw vegetables and cheese or hummus, my meals for the week … I am well equipped (with fridge, freezer and microwave) so as not to stop in restaurants. My boss, Réal Gagnon, is very generous. During COVID, he offers us all meals for our journey free of charge, that is 21 meals if I leave for a week. It’s really appreciated by the whole team. I admit, however, if I have an evening of waiting when I arrive in California, I eat at the restaurant in front of a big steak, a happiness that I fully enjoy.
What are your essentials to eat well on the road?
I always bring peanuts, apples and bananas with me. We have to think of foods that are eaten well and easily and that are allowed at the border.
If you stop at fast food, what are your choices?
I often eat a salad with a source of protein at Subway or even grilled chicken wraps in other restaurants. I don’t drink any soft drinks or energy drinks, which only give us short-term energy. I prefer to focus on the energy that comes from eating good food. I drink a lot of water (2-3 liters a day) and eat very little sugar. Foods that are too high in sugar or fat hinder my energy level.
Are you able to move despite the hectic work pace?
Yes, it is important for my physical and mental health if I want to age healthy. I installed a pedal board in the truck and I do it regularly. I can even get my abs working while driving. I developed things to move, even with sedentary work. I always park far to walk more at each stop.
What would you say to a trucker starting his career?
As a trainer, I try to influence young people so that they abandon fast food so as not to jeopardize their long-term health. Many develop type 2 diabetes with weight gain and bad habits. If they want to do the job for a long time, they have no choice but to adopt a healthy lifestyle, eat well, move, sleep well. Some people smoke, it can only seriously harm their health. You have to learn to bring your meals and snacks with you, and make the right choices at the restaurant as well. When a pet is allowed, it is a good ally for going out for a walk!
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