When it comes to what a singer should and shouldn’t eat or drink, advice will always be as varied as the number of people you ask. I’m pretty sure that’s because people have a tendency to dismiss something as the gospel truth or completely wrong based only on their own experience with it. But the human voice is the most complex and individually unique musical instrument that exists. It’s the only instrument in the world fashioned by the very hand of God. Our vocal instrument is our entire body, not just our voice. So, you have to expect that foods will react differently from person to person.
But as I mentioned in my recent blog about milk, there are some things that are pretty-much universally accepted as just good practice for singers. I’m going to share that kind of common-sense information with you in today’s blog.
So, you have an engagement coming up in the near future. What should you be doing to put yourself in the best possible position to insure your performance is as good as it can be? Aside from regular vocal training, your diet is definitely something very important to think about. When, what and how you eat before a singing engagement can all affect your ability to perform at your best. Let’s briefly look at all three.
When you eat-specifically how soon before your engagement- is critical. Let’s first make it very clear that you do need to eat something. Singing is a very physical thing that really involves your whole body. You need some energy to have the stamina to finish your gig. However, it’s important that you don’t eat right before you sing. The main reason is that if you do, the energy won’t be available to you when you need it. In order to benefit from the food you should really eat about 2 hours before a singing engagement.
Another huge benefit of doing that though, is that if you eat too soon before the gig, your body will be diverting energy towards digesting the meal. This will make you tired and less focused. Especially if you ate a heavy meal; which brings us to :
One thing you never want to do right before singing is eat a heavy, full meal. Aside from the the aforementioned zap of energy, you’ll also have a much harder time breathing for singing. That’s because when your stomach is full, it’s bloated and pushing against your diaphragm. So you can’t breath properly. The easiest way to avoid that is to stop eating about 2 hours before the gig. By then, unless you’ve really stuffed yourself to the gills with a bunch of heavy, empty calories, your body should have most of what you ate digested and providing energy to your system.
We’ve already established that it’s a good idea to stay away from big meals full of heavy foods. But we also pointed out that you do need to eat, and you do need some energy to sing well. The best types of foods to eat then, are foods that are light and yet provide you a lot of energy. Foods high in protein are great to eat an hour or two before an engagement. Things like chicken, almonds, eggs and fish are all good foods to eat. They provide you with plenty of protein and yet, if eaten in moderation, will keep your hunger at bay without having to stuff yourself.
As I said before, every singer is different because every person’s body is different. The best thing to do is try to keep an eye on what your’e eating leading up to an engagement. That way if you have an off night you can go back and take a look at what you ate and identify anything that may have caused some of it. Look for trends, or things that tend to happen every time you eat a certain food. While I’ve offered some good common sense guidelines here, remember that at the end of the day which specific foods you eat is usually a lot less important than when and how.
You probably know however, that eating and drinking everything you should at just the right right time you should do it still won’t protect your voice from wear and damage from years of bad technique. To do that you must train your voice with professional vocal lessons. But vocal lessons can be expensive and a real hassle to fit into your busy life.