Singing is comparable to an athletic performance. It takes stamina and aerobic effort to give a professional performance. How you prepare your body makes a big difference. Eating two hours before a performance, staying away from foods that dry your vocal cords, and staying hydrated with plenty of water will combine to maximize your vocal performance. Avoiding the wrong foods is essential to keeping in top singing shape.
Dairy Products and Mucous
The lactose in dairy products increases the mucous in your nose and throat resulting in excessive throat clearing. Throat clearing is traumatic to your vocal cords, possibly resulting in vocal injury. Bananas are another food that increases mucous in your system and is counterproductive to healthy singing.
Caffeinated drinks dehydrate your body, drying out your throat, mouth and vocal cords. Sodas, especially those containing caffeine, are also drying. Carbonated sodas put excess air in your stomach, which may result in burping during a performance. If you must have caffeine, keep it to a minimum and drink two glasses of water for every one glass of caffeinated beverage.
Spicy Food and Carbohydrates
Avoid overly spicy food. They dehydrate the body and can cause throat inflammation. This type of food can also irritate your vocal cords. Junk food, fast food, and food with high fat content often contain excessive salt, which dries your mouth and throat. These food categories are known to increase acid reflux – stomach acid moving back up toward the throat) -- which aggravates the esophagus, throat, and vocal cords. Many spicy foods are high in carbohydrates that drain your body of energy as it works harder to digest them. You will experience fatigue resulting in less energy on performance day.
Nuts and crumbly snack food may lodge between teeth or around your gums and the residue left in your mouth can cause choking. These food bits can irritate your vocal cords as well, causing a singer to clear her throat excessively. Avoid these foods on the day of a singing gig.
Too much of any food can cause problems when you sing. Overeating fills the stomach and gets in the way when you attempt to breathe deeply from your diaphragm , a skill all singers must develop. If you cannot breathe deeply, you cannot fill your diaphragm properly and will not be able to produce strong vocals nor sustain your breath as you sing. Overeating can also cause discomfort from cramping. When possible, eat a light meal at least two hours before a performance.
Drinking cold beverages or eating cold food are harmful to your throat before a performance. The cold will cause your throat and vocal cords to constrict and will stiffen your voice. We need warm vocal cords and throats for optimal performance. Drink lukewarm or warm water and stay away from frozen treats at least an hour before your sing.
Based in eastern Virginia, Cathy Welch began writing nonfiction articles and novels in 1996. She wrote a short story that appears in John Maxwell’s “Everyone Communicates, Few Connect.” She writes reviews and nonfiction for Longridge Writer’s Group. Welch holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration from Christopher Newport University with a concentration in management.