Fuel Your Singing Voice With The Right Nutrition

 

 

Food and nutrition are fuel. When you feed your body the right nutrition and foods, your voice feels effortless. When you feed it the wrong foods, your voice peters out.

One of my artists who is on The Voice this season shot me an email last week asking about what is the right food to eat prior to performance. I wanted to share it with you, my tribe, so you could get the benefits of fueling your performances the right way.

Early on in my training as a singer, I was fascinated by the impact of food and nutrition on our bodies and consequently on our voices. The voice being an instrument housed in our body – what we feed it makes or breaks how our voice performs.

 

Here’s my Top 9 Vocal Super-Foods:

 

Nine-(Flower-Pots)

1. Fresh REAL food is superior to packaged or processed food. If it didn’t grow from the ground, don’t eat it (or limit your consumption.) Veggies & fruits have more “energy” because they are “living” foods – singers need energy and oxygen in their blood (which real foods give us). Leafy greens, in particular, are energy givers: wheatgrass, watercress, kale, arugula, spinach (raw not cooked), romaine, mixed greens, broccoli rabe, escarole, etc.

2. Foods with high water content are hydrating. Hydration from plants is an additional source that adds nutrition, too (8-10 oz. of water, too!). Celery is great for nerves (try a celery or carrot juice the day of – or sprinkle some on your salad.)  Bok choy is actually a real super-food.  And watermelon and melon of any kind is super hydrating for your voice. (I throw some pieces in my water for extra hydration.)

3. Salads are the main dish. Dr. Joel Fuhrman (my nutritionist) says “make salads your main dish.”  I squeeze a little lime or lemon & olive oil or use just a little balsamic. Top with avocado – great for lubrication.

4. Speaking of olive oil, some people swear by it for a little extra lubrication (but use sparingly.)

5. Green juice! SHAZAAM! My favorite juice is celery (remember, great for nerves), cucumber, cilantro, sunflower sprouts, pea shoots + parsley with a smidge of ginger and garlic. Try adding more leafy greens too (watercress, kale, arugula, spinach raw not cooked, bok choy.)

6. Strawberries are great for the larynx (notice how it’s shaped like the thyroid cartilage 😉 – love that). Google it – you’ll find some awesome articles about it.

7. Broth soups hydrate – miso, garlic soup, veggie soups (but no tomato or cream base – causes reflux.)

8. Tofu-quinoa-turkey-salmon: good sources of protein. Stay away from ketchup (too much sugar) and sugar in general – depletes energy.

9. They say carbs the night before a performance gives energy – sweet potatoes are better than rice or pasta, which turns into sugar.

What foods do YOU find helpful for your voice (actual foods not remedies)? Post here!

Happy Healthy Singing!!

©2014 Cari Cole, Vocal Mag, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

  • Coconut water! It’s great for hydration and it’s a natural source of electrolytes. Also, when I play a long set, like 3 or 4 hours, the natural sugars give me the little boost I need when I feel my blood sugar start to drop.

    Thanks for this article, Cari! I had no idea about strawberries being good for your larynx… now I have another excuse to buy them more often. 🙂

  • Hey, I’m just asking, it might be a pretty obvious answer, but would a strawberry banana smoothie be good for you or does it have to be the natural juices coming from the fruit?

    • Hi Cari –

      I love how you cover everything. I agree about eating lightly and healthily especially right before a show. And John – I always avoid bananas because they gloop up my vocal chords (and in fact even avocado can do this for me) and I avoid all dairy for the same reason.

      Home-made soups and soaked nuts work for me, too.

      Thanks and love

      B xx

  • When you eat is also very important, and the oddball schedules of most musicians make it tough. Making sure your body gets REAL food within a few hours of getting up and not just a cup of strong coffee sends a message to your brain that eating won’t be a problem today and the brain in turn kick starts your metabolism. On the contrary, eat nothing, or eat food with no nutritional value, and the brain goes into survival mode and subdues the metabolism, to preserve the body’s energy “just in case,” leaving you feeling tired and mopey and looking for a quick fix. By the same token, no matter how wholesome our food is, we should avoid eating too much too late at night — sometimes a challenge when you’re coming in late from a gig!

  • Hi Cari,

    Yes, as Hilary said, everyone truly is different and needs different advice. I’m one of those weirdos. 😉

    Avoiding dairy, including eggs, has been a huge help to me. Probably the single best thing I’ve done. (I avoid caffeine, sugar, and alcohol anyway.)

    Pineapple, pineapple juice, olives, avocados (if they don’t bother you) are great for lubrication.

    Fresh, whole foods are best – I love Dr. Fuhrman but had to go to another nutritionist because it turns out lots of raw foods and juice are actualy NOT good for me, I actually need more cooked. People don’t often think about that.

    And you might want to try yams instead of sweet potatoes (unless they’re organic). In the US, sweet potatoes are genetically engineered to have a much higher sugar content.

  • Love this article Cari, because it covers my two loves – nutrition and singing. I am amazed to find that I already eat almost everything you have mentioned above (apart from celery, I just can’t stand it 😉 Now I know how these foods benefit the voice, it’s an added bonus. I also strongly agree with Hilary, and I think it’s fab that she specialises in vocal care. (Way to go Hilary!) So many wonderful suggestions, and thanks Robyn for the coconut water tip. Been reading a lot about the benefits of coconut recently, so definitely going to try it out. THANKS ALL 🙂

    • Cari Cole

      Hi Emily,

      So glad you enjoyed the article. You are what you eat 🙂

      Cari

  • Anthony

    Great advice. I can’t wait to try these out. Wish I could try the celery but celery is a huge no no for people with acid reflux. 🙁

  • Thanks for the tips, they are excellent – I have had a long path of correcting a vocal issue, and am hoping perhaps people could learn from my experience.
    I was chronically clearing my throat about every minute – which was just destroying my voice. After much pondering and Internet research, I suspected perhaps I had absorbed mold (candida) systemically into my body. I read that it feeds on yeast and sugars in the diet. I removed those items from my intake and noticed a significant improvement. Actually clearing the problem out fully, was another challenge because candida is VERY adaptive and tenacious. (contact me via my website, and I would be happy to help anyone with some tips / diet etc that I have done)
    I started taking a nutritional rebuilding product that literally smoothed out and repaired my voice in 10 days – which shocked me….after a few years of an ongoing battle with diet, and different alternative treatment modalities, I think I have about finally gotten the candida issue cleared from my body.
    I was just wanting to put that out there, as I have never seen any vocal tips that included this as possibly being an issue, and I am sure there are others who suffer from it, that could possibly get relief. I know what it is like for the voice to not work right, and to experience the heartache of not being able to sing as I could before…so my heart goes out to those people….

  • Rosalily

    Honey, softens my voice ^^ Honey with warm tea is perfect

  • Rosalily

    NEVER DRINK MILK BEFORE SINGING EVER!

  • Poasa Tuimaba

    Does ginger helps clear voice aswel