For those of you who know me, I am a little obsessive when it comes to vocal health. Probably because all singers are a little crazy and slight hypochondriacs...Hahaha, just kidding...or am I, hahaha.
All jokes aside, what you put into your body CAN affect your vocal performance. This is why I tell my touring, gigging, and recording singers to watch what they eat and watch how closely to their performance they eat to assure they will not have to deal with heartburn, reflux, bloating, excessive phlegm, etc. before the performance.
Not to sound like a broken record but, WHAT you eat and WHEN you eat WILL affect your vocal performance!
So, as a general rule, try not to eat anything within three hours before performing. Digesting food eats up physical energy, and we need all the energy we have to perform. While I say “three hours” some singers are fine as long as they don’t eat anything within two hours of the performance. We are all different, so we have to figure out what works for us.
Speaking of being different, the following list of foods that you should (probably) avoid also depends upon the individual person. We’ve all heard that diary is an absolute NO for singers, but for me personally, dairy doesn’t really affect me. So, read the list and know that YOU need to begin paying attention to these foods and how they affect your body.
If you personally notice an increase of thicker phlegm on your vocal cords, which you feel you need to remove by clearing your throat, or if you feel bloated, experience heartburn, or notice any negative symptom that affects your voice, then it would be VERY wise NOT to eat those foods on the day of the performance. You might even consider removing any food that causes negative symptoms from your diet.
The choice is yours. YOU must decide how important it is for your voice to be on point. So, now I will present you a basic description of WHY you should probably not consume these foods. If you want more information, I suggest you read my book, Raise Your Voice.
Now, onto the list:
As mentioned above, dairy can cause an increase in phlegm on the cords, which will make it harder for the cords to vibrate and stretch properly. Again, dairy has never really affected me. I don’t feel “phlegmy” when I consume it. Still, I stay away from milk and cheese when I have to perform.
#2- White Sugar
White processed sugar is an energy zapper and will leach the energy right out of your body. It may also cause an increase in phlegm. I always feel tired if I consume this poison, so I stay away from candy and other products with processed sugar.
For years it has been said that caffeine is a diuretic, which means it will cause you to release water from your body. Recently, it has been argued that this isn’t true, that caffeine affects the nervous system, which leads to the drying of the cords when it is consumed. Regardless, in many people caffeine makes them feel vocally dried out. It does this to me, yet I know singers who pound coffee and their voice is fine with it.
Many singers have reported terrible bouts of heartburn after eating spicy foods. I am one of them, but I DO love my spicy foods. In a future article, I will tell you what I do to avoid the heartburn. For now, check yourself after your next spicy meal; look for heartburn symptoms. If you have heartburn, then we need to re-think when we plan to eat spicy foods.
#5- Fried Foods
Ahhhh, I LOVE fried chicken, and it loves me too;) But many singers end up feeling the heavy phlegm clinging to their cords after eating fried foods (a result of the oils and butter used to fry the food) as well as heartburn.
This simple list of five foods was to open your eyes to your diet. It is also now your detective list, because we need to “detect” which foods affect us in a negative manner.
I now have an assignment for you. The assignment is simple. Start a food diary. Every time you consume one of the five types of food mentioned above, I want you to write how you feel right after finish your meal. I also want you to write how you feel an hour after the meal is completed. We need to find out what foods affect you negatively so we can begin building a singer’s diet just for you.
See you next article,