Intuitive Eating for Performers – 7 Top Tips

Intuitive Eating for Performers – 7 Top Tips
Listen to your own, internal hunger clues to find a great relationship with your food and your body –says Sharon Zarabi.

Listening to the rhythm of our internal hunger and satiation cues isn’t easy for anyone – especially if you are a performer with long rehearsals, late-night gigs and irregular and unexpected travel.

We have embedded a pattern of eating that goes with the drum beat of the clock or the smell of food rather than our internal satisfying cues.

Eating triggers are all around us and I want to see us get more in tune with our own “harmony” with food.

Here are a few tips to get you in “tune” with INTUITIVE eating habits:


Do not wait until you are starving to eat

You may be at practice, on the road or have social events that go until wee hours of the night and with socializing comes drinking and foods that are not timed with physical appetites. Keep nuts, low sugar protein bars, and fruit with you at all times. Green apples are my favorites! The pectin (a fiber in the skin of green apples) keeps your belly satisfied. Try to get some calories in every 4-5 hours.


Do not make any food forbidden

The psychology behind avoiding prohibited foods makes them more tempting. If you choose to indulge in a not so healthy treat, do not go overboard, and OWN it. Eat less the next day or be sure to get some calorie burning exercises in to counterbalance the extra energy.


Read your labels

If it is lacking dietary fiber and protein, both of which keep you full, you probably shouldn’t be eating it. It’s a waste of calories and goes straight to the waist line all with still leaving you hungry. This disrupts your body’s understanding of what satisfied actually means. Check for foods that have greater than 3 grams of fiber and more than 5 grams of protein when available. Proteins include fish, chicken, beans, eggs, nuts, soy and meat. Keep canned tuna and low sugar protein bars at hand. This will help you with tip #1.


Drink your water

You need to hydrate those vocals chords and nothing quenches thirst better than pure water. If you get bored of plain water, carry bags of flavored teas with you and seep them in hot water and then add ice cubes for an enhanced flavored beverage without all the added sugar.


Move your body

Get the blood pumping, and muscles building with both cardiovascular and strength training workouts. When in the hotel, take the stairs, before a performance pump yourself up with a set of pushups; when brushing your teeth work those legs with squats. The little things add up and can change your figure.


Keep a food journal

If weight loss is your goal, it’s good to keep a list of what you eat, when you eat and how you feel. This can help you discern between the foods that actually keep you full and to avoid any foods that may cause gastric distress. The last thing you need when going up on stage is an upset stomach or itchy throat, so keep a log to help you identify those foods may be “eating you up.”


Avoid late night eating

When you eat and recline you are not letting your body digest the food properly. The gastric juices will push back through the esophagus causing heart burn and irritating the throat. Also, if you wait until you are hungry to eat, you will eat more than your stomach can handle and, in the long term, this can lead to GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease). The acid build up will affect voice quality – so, full circle back to tip #1.

Keep these tips in mind to keep you on rockin’ on stage!

Sharon ZarabiSharon Zarabi is a Registered Dietitian, Certified Dietitian Nutritionist (RD, CDN) and Certified Personal Fitness Trainer with the International Fitness Professional’s Association (IFPA) and Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA.) She is a contributor to The Singer’s Guide to Complete Health (Oxford University Press) and her work can be viewed at

  • FL-Wolf

    I have been a performer for many years and the advice not to eat very much and right before going on stage to sing, is definitely a good one. Also, even though I always have room temp water or a cup of tea on stage, I only take sips and let them slowly run through my throat, now just swallow them down. If I drink more, I tend to end up fighting a burp in the middle of a song, which may cause some amusement in the audience, but isn’t very funny for a singer. :)