Industry professionals

Ellena Burnett

Suzi Le Fanue

Naturopath / Nutritionist
Integrated Wellness Clinic

Peta Adams

Accredited Practising Dietitian
Sunshine Coast Dietetics

Shane Jeffrey

Accredited Practising Dietitian
Food Mind Body

Kris Bullen

Associate Director
Driver Skills International

Sean Bakhshalian

Managing Director
Prestige Driving School

Michelle Chadwick

We asked them:

What are some snacks to take on the road with me that will help fuel my body for long-haul trips?

Ellena Burnett

To be able to concentrate and stay alert we need to look at slower absorbing foods so we don’t have the highs and lows while still feeling satisfied. This means snacks like wholegrain crackers, nuts, fruit and easy-to-use products like yoghurt pouches, air-popped popcorn, wholegrain bites and roasted chic peas.

Suzi Le Fanue

Keep it simple. Nuts and seeds are great and provide protein, good fats and fibre to keep the energy and concentration pathways functioning optimally. After something sweeter? A smoothie for the road with a pea protein powder, organic berries (antioxidant), banana, coconut or almond milk, cinnamon (for blood sugar), cacao for magnesium and antioxidants and a handful of leafy greens. The combination of easy to digest fats, protein and carbohydrates helps to stabilise blood sugar levels. And lastly, don’t forget how simple it is to chop up a selection of vegetables such as carrots, cucumber, celery and beans!

Peta Adams

The best options for long haul trips are those that are easy for the body to digest and also reasonably low in fat and fibre. This ensures you don’t get bloated and uncomfortable, yet are full and sustained over the journey. Such snacks would be a skinny milk latte, Low fat yogurt, Berries, boiled eggs, cheese on a cracker, small wrap with avocado, cheese and spinach.

The best options for long haul trips are those that are easy for the body to digest and also reasonably low in fat and fibre. This ensures you don't get bloated and uncomfortable, yet are full and sustained over the journey.

Shane Jeffrey

There can often be a temptation on a long-haul trip to push on, minimise breaks, and get there sooner rather than later – however this can be dangerous, and compromise safety. During these trips, it is recommended to make time to eat every few hours and drink at regular intervals to help maintain concentration, alertness, and energy levels. And while the usual road trip foods might include those legendary staples of chips, lollies and chocolates, looking a bit wider at some other options means you can mix things up, especially if pack a little esky if you want to keep things cool. Baked goods, muesli bars, nut bars and nuts alone including peanuts, almonds, cashews, macadamia are great to take on the road. Fresh fruit that isn’t going to be too tricky or messy like banana, apple, mandarin, and grapes is also great fuel. Dairy Products such as flavoured milk poppers and yoghurt pouches are much less messy! Other options Roasted chickpeas or fava beans – readily available at the supermarket Corn chips or vegetable sticks with guacamole, hummus or tzatziki.

What happens to the body/brain if I don’t eat when I’m hungry because I am in a rush?

Ellena Burnett

There’s many things that not eating and also not being hydrated can affect, what I see mostly in practice is that concentration can be impaired as well as the ability to make quick decisions. It also affects people’s ability to regulate their emotions in daily life while also impacting on their food decisions later in the day meaning stereotypically people choose fast options that taste good usually at the loss of getting key nutrients in that human bodies rely on to function optimally.

There's many things that not eating and also not being hydrated can affect, what I see mostly in practice is that concentration can be impaired as well as the ability to make quick decisions.

Suzi Le Fanue

This influences your glucose and insulin production which ultimately affects your blood sugar levels and the body’s response goes into a ‘survival’ state. This also can affect the cortisol response and the body mechanism of flight or fight. This can cause symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, migraines, body shakes, light-headedness, dizziness, nausea or fainting. It’s important to fuel your body, even when you’re in a rush. This may entail having to meal prep the evening before and/or having a backup in your workbag or car such as nuts and seeds or making a batch of protein balls.

Peta Adams

Hunger is a cue to eat and indicates that you have properly digested your meal and are ready to eat again as your blood sugar levels have dropped. If you do not eat when you are hungry and your blood sugars are low you often experience fatigue, slower reaction times and a loss of focus. If you are in a rush, try to have small snack until you have time to eat again.

Shane Jeffrey

Taking regular breaks for meals and snacks can often fall from our list of priorities when we are in a rush, but eating regularly is a simple strategy to stay on top of our health and wellbeing. When we skip meals, it will become more difficult to concentrate, we may begin to feel irritable, and our energy levels will drop. We are less likely to make smart decisions on the road. Skipping meals also means we are more likely to reach for lollies, chocolate and chips at our next pit stop rather than foods which contain a wider variety of nutrients.

When we skip meals, it will become more difficult to concentrate, we may begin to feel irritable, and our energy levels will drop.

What are sufficient foods to include in each meal that will help with alertness, energy & focus?

Ellena Burnett

There’s many ways that this can be done well, at the end of the day human body needs nutrients including sufficient energy. By including sources of protein-rich foods such as lean meat, dairy products and alternatives as well as plant-based fats such as extra-virgin olive oil, nuts and seeds, hummus or even falafels this allows people to feel satisfied while holding onto continuous energy levels, focus and alertness. The other essential nutrient-rich foods we’re chasing are your vegetables as well as a mixture of wholegrain breads and other cereals. These allow your body to actually use the energy you consume. If you miss one you’re heading for some not-so-good times but with both it makes your body work as easy as possible.

Suzi Le Fanue

It is important to have three main meals a day with a balance of good healthy fats, carbohydrates and protein for optimal absorption and energy output. We like to encourage consumption of Wholefoods. Food examples of this is sweet potato, free range chicken/beef, avocado, nuts and seeds, well sourced fish, quinoa, an adequate serving of leafy greens, beans, sprouts. Starches are also essential and provide optimal brain function. You can find this through grains such as quinoa, buckwheat, brown rice, lentils and oats. Essentially, food in its most whole form with minimal fuss preparation is the key.

It is important to have three main meals a day with a balance of good healthy fats, carbohydrates and protein for optimal absorption and energy output.

Peta Adams

The most important foods are those that contain some carbohydrate. In modest quantities caffeine from tea and coffee at the same time as a meal can also help to boost alertness. Foods that are beneficial are fruit with yogurt, Smoothies, home-made pasta and potato salads, Chicken and Salad sandwich or wrap.

Shane Jeffrey

Our body thrives off of a variety of foods from the core food groups; this includes breads and cereals, vegetables, fruit, dairy and meat as well as meat alternatives. Breads, cereals, rice, pasta, crackers, fruits and yogurts provide our body’s best source of energy – carbohydrate – so it is important to include these at each meal across the day. We know wholegrains, vegetables and fruits – foods high in fibre – will help keep our energy consistent in between meals. Foods like milk, cheese, nuts and seeds, meat and eggs – foods high in protein – will keep us feeling full and satisfied. Nourishing fats, like avocado, salmon and nuts, keep our brain healthy. When our meals include a variety of carbohydrates, protein, fat and fibre we stay more alert, energetic and focused.

What are some habits drivers can take on to ensure they are in control of the vehicle whilst driving?

Kris Bullen

Some of the best habits are the most basic ones. These include always keeping your eyes moving so you see everything that is going on around you. Situational awareness is vital in avoiding or dealing with an emergent situation.

Ben Ward

For all road users, a safe drive starts before you get in. Is your vehicle safe? Are you fit for purpose - impact of alcohol, fatigue and prescription / non-prescription medication? Do you have correct seating position and mirror positions? Remove time pressure for the journey. Have a position mind-set and cooperative view with other road users. Control your anger.

Sean Bakhshalian

The most important thing is paying attention to the road ahead. While many drivers think they are paying attention, often they are not looking far enough and mostly they check what the car in front of them is doing. However by looking a bit further up (we recommend looking 12 seconds ahead of the car) they can be well aware of what’s coming up and check the condition of the road and traffic. This enables them to make more timely, better quality decisions. Also not speeding or driving when tired will help them be far better in control of the vehicle.

However by looking a bit further up (we recommend looking 12 seconds ahead of the car) they can be well aware of what's coming up and check the condition of the road and traffic.

What distractions should drivers immediately eliminate once in the driving seat?

Kris Bullen

All of them. But the most dangerous distractions are ones that take your eyes off the road like mobile phones. Coffee is also hazardous as there is nothing that takes your eyes off the road faster than spilling hot coffee in your lap.

Ben Ward

Be aware of the responsibilities that are part of driving. Distraction is one of the most significant issues facing drivers today. Limit the use of mobile phones (even in hands free mode). Ensure the vehicle does not have loose items that can become an issue when driving. Food, drink and other items that can take your concentration should be limited or removed. Don’t underestimate the impact of sounds on your concentration - having the radio on at a reasonable level will be far safer than driving with the stereo glass rattling levels.

Don't underestimate the impact of sounds on your concentration - having the radio on at a reasonable level will be far safer than driving with the stereo glass rattling levels.

Sean Bakhshalian

First and foremost mobile phones. Distractions is the 2nd most important factor in deadly crashes on NSW roads and it mostly comes from using mobile phones when driving. Other common distractions are eating behind the wheel or applying makeup.

What are the top 3 things a driver can do to prevent a collision?

Kris Bullen

We train a number of driving systems in our courses but a safe driver will have a high situational awareness by being alert and monitoring what’s happening around them instead of staring straight ahead. Your vehicle position on the road is also very important because you must be ready for whatever is happening in front of you. This means that you must have your 3 second crash avoidance space in front of you and also safe places to exit your lane on either side of you if your situation (traffic) allows for it. Last but not least, you should definitely remove or control the distractions in the car including mobile phones, animals, children, food, drinks, over excited friends etc.

a safe driver will have a high situational awareness by being alert and monitoring what's happening around them instead of staring straight ahead

Ben Ward

It is hard to limit your thinking to just three things that may help you prevent a collision. Some of our top focus points are: 1/ Following gap of at least 3 seconds 2/ Roadworthy vehicle, suitable for the conditions you are driving in 3/ Be observant, obey road signs and keep an eye out for vulnerable road users. 4/ Look ahead and anticipate the traffic flow. 5/ Look for changing conditions (weather, road surface, night / day etc)

Sean Bakhshalian

The most common type of crashes are rear-ending which can be easily avoided by keeping a safe following distance in front of the car (3 seconds for best driving conditions). Also paying attention while selecting a gap to make sure they choose a good enough gap to avoid getting T-boned. As for the last one, definitely driving with a safe speed appropriate for the conditions to help them stay perfectly in control of the car in case any sudden situation arises.

How can I recognise that I have had sufficient sleep before driving a vehicle?

Michelle Chadwick

Less than 6 hours sleep in the previous 24 hours puts you at a significantly higher risk of a fatigue related accident that can result in injury or death. Aim to have at least 7-8 hours sleep in the previous 24 hours and if you plan on driving long distances plan to rest for 15 minutes every 2 hours and don’t drive for more than 10 hours in a day. Also avoid driving when you are typically asleep eg: 1am - 6am as this is a time when sleepiness is most intense.

Also avoid driving when you are typically asleep eg: 1am - 6am as this is a time when sleepiness is most intense.

What are the signs I can look out for that indicate I might be tired whilst driving?

Michelle Chadwick

Signs that indicate you may be tired whilst driving include, heavy eyelids, eyes closing, frequent blinking, or trouble focusing. Trouble keeping your head up. Drifting between lanes, hitting a shoulder. Constant yawning, rubbing your eyes. Daydreaming/wandering thoughts. Difficulty concentrating on driving, missing exits or traffic signs.

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