First of all, it's helpful to understand the following truths:
- The voice is part of the human body, and as such is affected by what you take into the body. While some 'get away' with bad fuel for a time, good fuel is ALWAYS better for long term physical and vocal health, and bad fuel is ALWAYS detrimental -- even if you don't notice it till years later.
- People are different. They have individual metabolisms and health conditions, and some foods and drinks are nutritious for some, while for others the very same food and drink is poison. Some people take much longer than others to digest food, too... and that affects the time it should be eaten before singing. If you can't digest something or you are allergic to it, it doesn't matter how 'good' the food is- it still turns into poison in your system, cluttering up your body and your throat and stealing energy that could be used for... yes... singing!
- Eat a light, compact protein.
A great vegetarian protein meal combines grains and legumes, such as rice, cornbread or whole grain bread and beans or peas. Hummus contains beans and grains, and is an excellent, quick choice when teamed up with some veggie sticks.
Another very good way to get protein in is a fruit smoothie, best in the morning for those with sluggish digestive systems like mine. I don't digest fruit well later in the day, so I start my day with a blender full of frozen fruit plus a protein supplement like "Rice Protein" or a whey or soy or green pea-based product. I add a little juice and water or ice for good consistency, and various other nutritional supplements. Find out what works for you!
- Eat fresh and lightly cooked vegetables.
- Don't eat or drink heavy, drying or poisonous stuff!
Don't drink black tea (it makes your throat feel dry). And it should go without saying, but I'm saying... don't drink alcohol or take drugs thinking they will help relax or energize you. You will lose some degree of vocal control - and then there's those pesky long term life & death consequences!
- Don't eat too much too close to performance.
OK, but what if you're in a hurry to get to the gig?
Here's a tip: Make a list of meals based on the above tips that you can easily and quickly make or get at a restaurant before your performance. Keep it handy to reference on performance days (or any other busy days you want to be healthy!)
My pre-performance meal list includes:
- Fruit smoothie
- Salmon salad
- Simple turkey sandwich
- Fresh, raw slices of avocado, orange, pineapple and fresh nuts
- Oatmeal with banana, pomegranate seeds, grapes and fresh nuts (I make my oatmeal with rice milk)
- Find out for yourself in rehearsal how something affects you. Don't trust eating or drinking the unknown at a performance.
- Just because you get by with something not good for you for a while doesn't mean you can continue.
- Be considerate of others. If what you are doing seems to cause indirect vocal problems in someone else, refrain from doing it at that gig.
- Consider meeting with a nutritionist or naturopath to receive the appropriate tests. Sometimes you don’t know how good you COULD feel, until you’ve made those key changes in your diet.
- For more nutritional suggestions, sign up for my newsletter and get my 5 page report on "Vocal Health".
What about you? Do you have favorite foods/drinks before singing? Have you eaten something that sabotaged your voice and that can be a cautionary tale for us? Share in a comment!