There are many rules to remember as a singer when you want to keep your instrument working as healthy as possible for your performances. It can be confusing as a beginner, but once you've been singing and getting advice from health and musical professionals over the years, you start to see things line up more clearly.
A singer's diet doesn't need to be that different from a regular diet that a healthy individual would follow. The key differences lie in the vocal side effects that you want to avoid so that they don't get in the way of your singing voice.
Firstly, you don't want your throat to dry out, so you don't want to eat or drink things that can dry you out. Drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated is always a great idea, and that rule is simple enough. But some foods have ingredients that don't mix well with singers.
Secondly, you don't want to cause too much phlegm in your throat. If you weren't singing or performing, it might not be a big deal to have some phlegm in your day, but for singing, that can be a huge headache and possibly impede your performance.
Lastly, you don't want to eat or drink anything that would cause you gas or acid reflux. Burping or tasting acid during your song will not do any favors to your singing technique, so those that are prone to these symptoms need to be extra careful with what they allow in their diet.
Dairy products, including milk, cheese, and yogurt, can taste great and all, but they can also cause a lot of phlegm in your throat. Those who are lactose intolerant can also cause singers to become gassy, and that's not a good look. Having these products at a very low intake might be fine, but try not to overdo it.
While spicy foods can be delicious and possibly even clear up your sinus passages, they can also cause you to get really phlegmy over time. Not to mention that spicy food can really mess with some people's acid reflux and impede their singing performance as well.
Caffeine products, including chocolate and sodas, are not a good idea to have before a performance because caffeine can dry your voice. Sometimes singers can get confused with the fact that tea is good for your voice, but not caffeinated teas.
You may also be tempted to eat chocolate before a performance since it's high in antioxidants, but the caffeine in chocolate is why I don't recommend it for singers.
Overdoing food that has a lot of oils, butter, or margarine can also cause phlegm to build up in your throat and irritate your singing voice. You may want to avoid fried foods and pizza for this reason, especially right before a performance.
Essential oils, including olive oil and jasmine, can be beneficial in moderation for your overall health, but they won't do anything like "lubricate your vocal cords" since that isn't really possible. The food and drink we take in do not have direct contact with our vocal cords!
Foods that are high in sodium can make your throat feel dry quickly after consuming them. This is because your body reacts to high salt with action to take in as much water as possible, drying out the extra lubrication you had in your throat before you ate.
Foods that are super sugar aren't good for anyone, but highly processed sugars are especially bad for singers since they can cause your energy levels to crash as soon as 30 minutes after eating them.
Anything high in protein will help you become energized for your upcoming singing performance. It's a great way to get a boost of energy without the use of something like caffeine or sugar.
If you're leaning more toward a vegan diet and want to avoid meats, you can find protein in foods, including eggs, nuts, beans, and seeds. Dairy products can also include protein, but you want to be avoiding it!
Tons of our favorite foods are a combo of whole grains and beans, and that is not by mistake! Whether it's red beans and rice, black bean soup, or corn chips and bean dip, people are really onto something with mixing these two together.
Beans are a great source of protein, fiber, carbohydrates, and micronutrients, while whole grains can reduce your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
Foods that can fight against inflammation in your throat are also great for your diet. According to Harvard Health, vegetables, including spinach, kale, and collards, are perfect foods for your diet.
Fruits that include cherries, strawberries, and oranges also help to fight against inflammation in your body. Fatty fish, including tuna and salmon, also have anti-inflammatory properties.
Antioxidants can help rid our bodies of harmful molecules called free radicals, which can damage your voice and overall body, making you susceptible to many types of sicknesses.
Fortunately, many vegetables and fruits, including spinach, carrots, potatoes, cranberries, peaches, raspberries, and strawberries, are rich with antioxidants that can keep you protected.
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As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 200 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, features, nursery rhymes, and DJ drops, she currently spends her time engulfed in creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her most recent creative collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest music releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share the music if you like it!
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