To Eat or Not to Eat

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Here is another top five question that comes up from almost every vocal student. “I hear there are certain things that a singer should avoid eating or drinking. Is this true??”

Absolutely. But, don’t think you are going to need to drastically change your eating and drinking habits. The majority of this dietary advice is for 4 to 6 hours before you sing a rehearsal or a gig.

The most commonly known dietary “No No” before singing is dairy. That’s right. Things like milk, butter, cheese, chocolate, cream in your coffee, are all not good before a gig. Dairy creates mucus on your vocal folds and can really get in the way when you are trying to sing. There is nothing worse than going for that big money note at the end of the song and then have a big wad of phlegm creep up and make your voice crack! Yuck.

The next dietary “No No” before singing would be anything that might make your voice dry out. Most of this comes in liquid form. Caffeine in coffee, tea and sodas will cause your voice to dry out. Carbonation in sparkling water and sodas also have the same effect. Also, alcoholic beverages will dry the voice.

Next we have spicy foods. You may want to stay away from these. They can create acid reflux, which can be a problem when trying to sing.

Again, if you stay away from the above foods and beverages a good 4 to 6 hours before you are to sing you should be in the clear. A good rule of thumb when it comes to eating anything before a show is to give it time to digest. Don’t eat anything starting about two hours before you sing. (Unless you like belching your lyrics, then go ahead!)

Now, these next items are “No Nos” all of the time. JUST DON’T DO THEM!

Smoking. Of course we know smoking is not only bad for your voice, it’s bad in general for your overall health. Smoking dries the voice out and also creates a build up of tar inside the lungs. Over time this will hurt your ability to take a good breath. If you smoke long enough, and you are lucky enough not to get lung or throat cancer, you may also notice that the natural register of your voice will start to drop over time and or become raspy in nature. I’ve seen so many singers light up before, during and after shows. Be smart. If you want to have the same voice you had in your
20s when you are in your 40s or older…DON’T SMOKE. (Oh, about smoking pot?? It’s the same deal, plus the fact that singing “high” can really impair your train of thought. Not a good thing to do live on stage, kids.)

Last is drinking alcohol. Not only will drinking too much impair your train of thought and dry your voice out, it could possibly harm your voice in the long term, much like smoking. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not asking you to become a teetotaler! I suggest not drinking until your set is over. If you are on tour, pace yourself. You don’t want to party hard after the show and then suffer vocally the next day at your gig. This is where being a professional comes into play. Let’s put it this way. If you were a baseball player playing in the World Series, wouldn’t you take care of yourself during
the Series?? Then you can let your hair down after it’s all over.

So there is where I stand on What To Eat and What Not To Eat. Hope it helps! Any questions, please, feel free to email me! Until next time, keep it real and keep singing!!