Nutritional Therapist Naomi Mead shares her top recommendations for singers.
The way in which you look after your body in the lead up to a big performance is going to affect how you feel when you’re stood up on that stage- and will be reflected directly in how you perform.
Eating the right foods before a performance is a vital part of the preparation process, and whilst everyone is individual (and there is no one-size-fits all for the ‘perfect’ pre-performance meal), there are certain foods that you may find beneficial in the lead up to a big gig.
Here are some tips to power you through your next performance:
1) Ensure You’re Well Hydrated
The importance of hydration cannot be overstated for healthy vocal cords, but making sure you drink enough water prior to a performance can sometimes get forgotten in the midst of pre-performance jitters and excitement. As well as drinking water and herbal teas, you can ‘eat your water’ too. There are plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables with a very high water content, and incorporating these “juicy” foods into your diets can help you stay hydrated, and give you a fantastic boost of vitamins and phytonutrients at the same time. Some of the juiciest options include cucumber, watermelon, tomatoes and iceberg lettuce.
2) Settle The Stomach
If you’re someone who suffers from pre-performance nerves, fresh ginger can provide relief for nausea and an unsettled stomach. Studies have also shown that ginger has potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, so can help to fight any underlying colds or sore throats. To make ginger tea, boil 1 cup of filtered water in a saucepan and add 2 tablespoons of fresh, grated ginger. You can also add a cinnamon stick or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice for flavour. Cover the pot with a lid and turn off the heat. Let it steep for 10 minutes.
3) Eat Green
Green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach and broccoli are really the gold standard of nutrition, packed full of magnesium, iron and zinc; all vital for energy production and stamina. They are also bursting with vitamins A and C which support healthy mucous membranes in the sinus and vocal regions.
4) Avoid Sugary Snacks And Refined Carbs
Eating these types of foods before a performance can give you an energy surge, followed by a big slump as your blood sugar levels plummet. To avoid this, make sure your pre-performance meal combines complex carbohydrates (such as sweet potato or brown rice) with a good source of lean protein (such as chicken, fish or tofu) and plenty of vegetables, for a sustained energy release. Save the chocolate for after the show!
5) Don’t Eat Too Close To A Performance
Digesting your food requires energy, and you don’t want your body to be doing this when you’re stood up on the stage. Also, a full stomach may hinder your diaphragm movement when singing. Ideally eat 1-2 hours before you perform to avoid any energy swings, breathing difficulties or digestive discomfort. However, when it comes to meal timings in relation to performance, every singer is individual – and it may take a bit of experimenting in rehearsals to find what works best for you.
It’s not just food that will power you through your next performance, remember exercise is great for you too. And then there’s gaming. Who knew that games like bingo could relieve stress, heighten concentration and keep you sharp? Remember to take all of these things into account next time to stop you from falling flat.