Why eating badly affects your singing performance!
Updated: Dec 2, 2022
Everyone knows that: action causes reaction and this is so true with what you eat and drink before singing.
You want to sound your best when you sing in:
When you eat the right things your voice respond immediately, and will be able to work at its highest level.
Conversely, if you eat & drink the wrong things, your voice will react and you can stop your fine instrument from working as it should.
Think of eating and drinking as a pre warm-up for your voice.
You and Your Voice are Inseparable
Am I stating the obvious here? Well I suppose I am.
The voice is the only instrument in the world that is you.
Composition (songwriting) is a close second.
If you're a singer songwriter, then you are magnificent, as you are combining you with you....
Let me explain...
When you sing, you are using your voice. Therefore, everything that you are, everything that you do, everything that you sing, is you.
This is why it is vital that the you side of your voice is being looked after, before you even get on stage!
Every single thing that you consume before you sing needs to be thought about because not only your vocal folds, or vocal cords, play a part in your singing.
Your mind, that we all know is fed by what we consume, controls your voice and you control your mind.
By consciously deciding to eat and drink the right things before you sing, means you are consciously deciding to be your very best. The best version of you that you have.
Also, by feeding your mind, your cells, your body, and your chords, you are being a dedicated singer and a dedicated musician.
You are showing respect. Respect for you, respect for those performing with you, and respect for your audience.
Why what you eat is important:
Here's something to think about when you're getting your food and drink ready:
You are looking for sustenance that is:
You may be about to start a long rehearsal session, or a tech call followed by a performance, or a lengthy recording session. Therefore you are going to need a balanced nutritious meal that will sustain you for your whole session.
When you are singing and performing, your body and mind are working in tandem. You must make sure that your food and drinks will help you maintain focus and have clarity at all times. Your mind makes your voice work.
Here's the thing. You are your voice and your voice needs you. As you know the way our bodies are built, whatever you consume will have to pass by your vocal cords. So you have to be aware of what's good to pass through here, and what will not work at all!
Why what you eat and drink is important.
There are two main things that you want to avoid when singing:
It's as simple as that.
There are two main things you want when singing:
Your voice to work at its highest level.
Clarity of mind.
What you eat & drink will immediately affect your voice in good or bad way.
What to Consume
As singer for over 20 years, I've honed down what worked for me. Yes, it is personal, but at the same time generally it's the same for everyone.
Healthy Voice Foods:
Fruits that are high in water:
Watermelon and in fact any Melon.
These will give you natural hydration, as well as sustainable energy as they have a positive effect on your blood sugar. They also help with indigestion.
Ever tried singing whilst burping?
Protein gives your body fuel, energy to work hard, which is what you need when you sing. It helps to carry oxygen around your body and actually fights off germs!
Watercress and any Lettuce.
Like most fruits, salads are naturally hydrating as they have high levels of water. They will give you energy and vitality and also help fight off those germs.
In fact, any vegetables that don't repeat on you are the ones to go for. I personally can't eat sweet peppers, raw onion or cucumber without it giving me a bit of indigestion.
Eggs I think of eggs as a power house for singers. A single egg contains a little bit of almost every nutrient you need. They are full of protein, but I gave them a separate heading from the protein one, as I always feel they help my singing when I eat them and I wanted to really point them out. Plus a warm soft boiled egg is my comfort food
Sauerkraut If you can take it, it's really good for digestion...again burping and even hiccups. (nightmare on stage). It is also very nutritious, and boosts your immune system too.
Healthy voice drinks:
Herbal Teas – all to be drunk warm, not hot!
Ginger - Improves blood circulation & helps with digestion.
Eucalyptus - Has antibacterial properties & supports your respiratory system.
Rosemary - Enhances memory (wow!), & improves digestion.
Green Tea - (My favourite) Improves your brain function, boosts your metabolism & also boosts your immune system.
Water at room temperature
Still water will hydrate you, but be careful not to shock your chords with chilled or ice water as they will contract and can cause stress! No club soda..again Burps!
What NOT to consume
Unhealthy Voice Foods:
Dairy Products - including cheese, ice cream, yogourt, & milk. All dairy products will coat your vocal cords and give you mucus.
Milk Chocolate and White Chocolate - Just in case you thought it would be ok...it's not. Also...think of those sugar highs...great...and the crashes? Not so great, especially when you need long term energy.
Spicy Foods - Why not when they're so tasty? Well they're normally high in oils that will give you phlegm! Ugh! Clearing your throat all the time...which BTW can irritate your chords and tire them out, before you've sung a note!
Salty Foods - This may sound obvious but I thought I'd mention it in case you like to eat salty foods! They will dehydrate you! Nothing worse than dry-throat mid phrase.
Unhealthy Voice Drinks
Any soda drinks - Same as chocolate in terms of sugar rush & crash!.... & burping!
Any drinks with milk in - even tea & coffee. Think mucus.
Any hot drinks or iced drinks - Causing shock to your chords is never a good idea, and especially not before singing. It can cause your chords to expand or contract and mess up an otherwise fabulously healthy larynx.
Any Alcohol - Again, obvious, but I thought I'd mention it as many musicians think a quick sip will help calm your nerves! No.
It dehydrates you.
It muddles your mind.
It Increases breathing rate, which decreases breath support.
You will need to keep hydrated as a singer throughout the day and or night.
I recommend taking water with you. I often bring several bottles of water with me and a few green tea tea-bags too!
Sometimes, I flavour my water with fresh fruits. I love to throw in a few fresh chopped strawberries, lemons, or oranges. I use different fruits and vary it up. I find when I then drink them, my mind is pleasantly reminded that I cared enough to chop!
This, simple thing, actually refocuses my mind. I find I can concentrate on the job in hand and I am more centered again.
A nice bar of chocolate? NO!
A granola bar? Not necessarily, but yes!
Whole foods are best, like raw veggies and fruits high in water – as I mentioned before.
Nuts (unsalted) and raisins are brilliant, but make sure you're really chew those nuts. We do not want a coughing fit brought on by bits of nuts getting caught in your throat!
I would recommend mixing it up, sometimes a granola bar, sometimes whole foods.
If you're going for a granola bar though, please do your research. There are some granola bars that are so high in sugar, they are the same as eating sweets and candies.
Go for high protein high fibre healthy choices.
Good For You!
Mental health is sooooo important!
So, if you are addicted to ice cream, and you feel like you are punishing yourself by depriving your self of the things you like to eat & drink that are not good for the singer in you, remember that you can reward yourself AFTER you have done your singing!
I'm not suggesting going out and binging, but a little of what you love – if it's not on the 'healthy' list - is ok....AFTER you've finished singing.
How Long to Eat For?
Why on earth would this matter I hear you ask?
Well you've made a conscious decision to eat right as a singer, but if you rush your food you will undoubtedly get indigestion. Did I mention burping?
Remember to chew each mouthful and savour the flavours.
Someone once told me that our stomachs don't have teeth! How true is that?!!
So slow down and eat with awareness. It should take you as long as it takes. Everyone is different. But not rushing is vital in the process of eating.
Not only that, but giving yourself 'time' to appreciate your food, will slow your whole system down, mentally and physically give you time to re-group, before your rehearsal, performance, recording session or whatever gets underway.
You will know, that whatever your singing work is, you will be making time for eating. This has an immediate calming and nurturing effect. Your mind will know that whatever you're doing before or after your food, your meal time will be a quiet time for you.
It should be like a form of meditation.
Did you say 'Distractions'?
Eat without any distractions and concentrate on your food.
Turn off your phone, put that songwriting book aside, turn off your notifications and concentrate whole heartedly on both preparing and eating your food.
Enjoy every delicious mouthful, and feel the health as it enters your whole body, flooding it with health and vitality, nutrients and power.
Even if you are eating with other people you can still be focused on your food. Talk to everyone about how lovely and fresh this tomato is, or how sweet tasting this melon is, and so on. Include them in your enjoyment of your healthy awe inspiring, body loving choices.
Only Before I Sing?
OK. So I know I said before you sing.........
How about eating healthily like this almost all of the time (throwing in the odd naughty one here and there).
The benefits of healthy eating outweigh not eating healthily by a massive margin.
As a singer, you know how focused you need to be all the time, everyday. Practicing and forging ahead with your career takes a lot of inner energy, and tenacity.
Plus the energy needed to cope with the emotional ups and downs involved.
Continuous physical health and stamina is required.
No singer wants to wake up with a sore throat!
That means, eating foods that support your immune system and fight off bugs is something you should be investing in. I mentioned some above...and there are plenty more to explore that are singer friendly.
Healthy Eating on Tour.
It is true, that it's much harder to eat healthily when you're on the move. Ask a truckie!
However preparing ahead is the answer. Source out markets and stores near where you'll be staying, that sell fresh produce that's reasonably priced and take the time to go and select your foods with love and care.
I would even pack a jar of sauerkraut!
If you are eating out, try really hard to resist the tempting less healthy options and go for a salad (watch out for the sweetened dressings). You can always treat yourself after you've sung remember!
I would try to prepare foods yourself. There is nothing more enjoyable than eating fresh healthy foods that you have personally chosen with intent. Plus, with salads and fruits, you won't need a stove and some supermarkets sell warm roasted chickens!
Just remember to pack a portable plate, knife and fork!
Raising Your Self Esteem
The desire to look after yourself is also excellent for your self esteem.
Yes it is!
Simply put, showing your own body that you care for it, releases the line of thought in your brain that shows you, that you are worth looking after.
Every time you select foods with care, you are showing again, the love that you have for you. The respect that you have for you, your body and your voice.
This raises awareness in your mind that you care about yourself.
It realizes that you care because the you inside is worth it, and slowly, over time this realization that you are worth it translates into a feeling of worthiness and raises your self esteem.
Self esteem cannot be underestimated in the music career.
Self esteem translates very quickly into self belief.
Self belief is not an arrogance.
It is not a sense of entitlement either.
It is a belief in you.
All of this from healthy eating? Oh Absolutely.
Why Self Belief is the Key to Success When you meet someone with self belief, you know.
They are interesting and strong people who draw you in.
They are people you want to know and be around.
They have a natural draw.
These are all qualities that you should want to possess, and of course this is another topic completely.
But knowing that self belief comes from high self esteem,
that comes from respecting your body and voice,
that comes form healthy eating
Must surely give you pause for thought.
Remember that you will find your own rhythm with what works for you as you may not like some of the foods and drinks that I recommend.
One thing is for sure, don't rush you're eating or drinking before you sing.
Did I mention burping at all?
Watch the video now!
#songwriter #songwriting #singersongwriter #musician