Every bite you take. Every food you make. Every bread you break, every time you eat cake, your voice is calling to you.
Did you know that everything you eat can affect the quality of your performance, even several days before a show? And 24 to 36 hours beforehand? Talk about crucial consumption times. Paying careful attention to what you eat can help maximize your performance, and as mama always said: a six pack starts in the kitchen. Your vocal cords won’t have six-packs, but they’ll sound like they do!
Eat in small portions, being extra careful not to overeat, especially with a performance coming up. In fact, we highly recommend not eating within 2 hours of taking the stage. Not only does it interfere with your breathing, but your energy level as well – you want to look, feel, and sound 110%, and eating within two hours takes at least 11% away from that.
And now that we got that out of the way, here comes the “resting chin on fist while nodding with fascination” part:
Foods to Avoid
Some food and drink stays in the system longer than others, and they can negatively affect the quality of your voice the entire time. For alcohol, it’s 48 hours – even if you don’t feel intoxicated, it will continue to dehydrate your body. (If you need a couple beers before performing stage because of stage fright, learn to overcome that by picturing the audience at a nude beach playing volleyball.)
Here is the food you should stay away from:
• Dairy products, such as milk or ice cream.
• Heavy foods, such as pizza or falafel balls.
• Greasy and/or fried food, like burgers and fries (sorry, Ronald.)
• Red meat. Replace with chicken or fish (like tuna, which is chicken of the sea).
• Acidic foods, like pasta sauce, coffee, and orange juice.
• The KFC Double Down, a bacon and cheese sandwich where the buns are chicken breasts, but mostly because no one should eat that.
• White bread, which thickens mucus.
• Most nuts, as they create heavy and stubborn mucus. White bread and nuts? What’re you, nuts!?
• Synthetic sugars, like Splenda or Equal (little easier when coffee is off the table).
• Diet Sodas, which contain synthetic sugars.
• Onions, as they dry the vocal cords and create acid.
Food You Should Eat
Nutrition is important! So important, they made a nutrition superhero named Victor Vitamin, whose movie has the world’s largest box office draw of a completely made up $750 trillion.
In all seriousness, while it’s important to still eat in moderation and to not eat within two hours of a performance, keep an eye out for these voice-friendly foods:
• Hard- and soft-boiled eggs.
• Plain baked fish, such as salmon or tilapia, but stay away from the tartar sauce. Sardines, if soaked in water, are fine, but avoid any heavy or spicy sauces.
• Whole spelt bread, but stick to 1-2 slices per day as a general rule. Spelt bread contains healthy carbs, which can help create the clear mucous that lubricates your vocal cords!
• Fresh, raw slices of avocado. (A hard-boiled egg and an avocado is a delightful breakfast, just saying.)
• Green vegetables, such as cucumber, lettuce, green beans, broccoli, spinach, and celery.
• Baked sweet potato.
• CLYOR formulas, duh.
• Steamed vegetables, like carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, squash, butternut squash, and purple cabbage. Add a bit of olive oil for flavor!
• Baked or grilled chicken or turkey.
• Non-citrus fruits, like watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, and papaya.
Also important: remember to drink plenty of water, especially a week before your performance. 10-12 cups of water a day keep the scratchy throats away!
No two metabolisms are exactly the same. Well, maybe some are, but everybody’s metabolism and vocal cords combination are different, most likely. This means that what might work for one person might not work for another. As you progress as a vocalist, continue to develop your diet, as it will take time but will absolutely be worth it in the long run.
Consider keeping a food journal. “Dear diary. Today, I ate this, and this happened.” If you continue to experiment and track your experimentation (you mad scientist you!), you can keep organized and figure out the best diet for you as a singer.
Lastly, consider looking into getting a nutritionist. They can help you figure out the perfect combinations, and as experts, you can lean on them a bit rather than doing trial by fire on your own. It can seriously pay off in the end – who doesn’t want to be at optimal performance level?