Eating Healthy on the Road – Advice from a Touring Musician
As a touring musician, eating healthy on the road can be quite a challenge! I’ve been doing this for over a decade, and I’m still always learning ways to ensure that I don’t default to the inevitable junk-food options that abound, whether we’re on long cross-country drives, or being served bar food at our gigs.
On my latest CD Release tour, I was out on the road for literally one solid month. Thankfully, I have a wonderful tour manager who by now is so well-acquainted with my culinary/nutritional needs that she actually sorts out where the Whole Foods stores are along our tour route, even before we leave!
More often than not, however, there just isn’t that option. So mainly, here are some of the things I try to eat, and do, along the road to maintain my overall energy and ensure that when I open my mouth to sing each night, the best possible sounds will come out!
Before a show, I try to make sure I’ve eaten pretty “clean” foods all day. For me, that could be anything from apple and bananas, to baby carrots, spinach salad, rice cakes, avocado and green peppers.
Basically anything healthy I can find at a local grocery store, when I’m out on tour. We joke about me carrying an “emergency tuna can” in my purse, but really, I do! If I’m actually eating in a restaurant, things can get a little more challenging and I’m a bit like Meg Ryan in “Sleepless In Seattle”; I prefer everything on the side, no sauce, no mayo, no dressing. I like to know exactly what I’m eating and avoid very spicy or salty foods.
I also make a point to have a decent amount of protein on days of shows, but since I became a vegetarian a year ago that can sometimes be a challenge while I’m out on tour. I do eat fish, and a nice piece of salmon is a luxury. When that’s not an option, I go for hummus, cashews, almonds and occasionally, eggs.
It’s so important to stay hydrated on tour, and especially being a singer, I find that water is the best way to keep my throat clean and clear before a show. If I’m nursing an illness of any kind, herb teas with slippery elm or ginger can be helpful. Generally, I drink a lot of hot water with lemon.
When I ask for that in a restaurant or on an airplane they always look at me funny and ask me several times if I’m sure that’s all I want, but I’m used to that by now!
A few years back when I was opening for Judy Collins I had terrible bronchitis, and she was very sympathetic and helpful. She suggested I drink a special concoction of cayenne pepper, honey, lemon and something else in it I forget…It tasted terrible, but it definitely helped me a lot.
Sometimes we just don’t get enough sleep, so it can be hard to keep our energy up. My bandmates drink a lot of coffee, but I prefer chai. In general I stay away from alchohol entirely because it dries out my voice, (I only occasionally have a glass of red wine), but I am definitely addicted to chai!
I tend to have it every day and if I don’t, I feel a bit off. I realize this may be partly psychological because I enjoy the ambiance of coffeehouses and I have a very good one in my neighborhood, but it definitely feels like chai wakes me up in a particular way and I also think the sweetness of the vanilla soymilk is what I crave.
Balance on the Road
Overall, I try my best not to be overly fussy about what I eat or drink on the road because really, it can be a pitfall if you can’t find exactly what you want. So I think the key for me is balance.
I’m a bit like a camel and can go for a pretty long time without having a proper meal if I have some good healthy snacks like fruits, nuts, “Kind Bars” and also I love those fruit shakes you can get everywhere , either “Naked Juice” or “Odwalla”. Thankfully they have them at virtually every rest stop now.
Then, ideally, no less than two hours before a show, I’ll have a bigger meal with fish or a Greek Salad or a nice Middle Eastern dish with hummus and pita…those are some of my typical go-to choices on tour and I suppose I eat like that at home a lot, too!
My Personal Favorites!
My very favorite cuisines are Moroccan, Indian and Japanese. I eat a lot of avocado maki, I just love the way it looks – I love the simplicity of it, the color, the texture and that it’s not that filling. I particularly love couscous and dolma and hummus – anything Turkish, Israeli or Moroccan is going to make me very happy! I could eat Middle Eastern food every day and never get sick of it.
I love Indian food and happen to live right near the Indian restaurant district in Manhattan so I’m very spoiled and tend to have it often; when we can find a good local Indian restaurant on tour, it’s definitely a treat.
I also really appreciate a great salad. As an artist, I kind of want it to look pretty and have something unusual going on, whether it’s cranberries, sunflower seeds, pine-nuts, pomegranate seeds or something that just gives it a different texture. I get bored with just lettuce and don’t like a lot of dressing either so texture is very important to me.
Ultimately, it’s my responsibility to make sure I take care of my voice and my body on the road – and I consider that to be a very serious part of my job as a performer. Despite the challenges we face along the way in terms of time and selection, thankfully more and more restaurants are offering healthy, vegetable-rich entrees that aren’t fried or drowning in mystery-sauce.
Keeping it simple and healthy in terms of what I eat helps me focus on my biggest goal as an artist and a musician: to connect meaningfully with my audiences and uplift them through my music!
Note: I’ve edited this post and I deleted the data of the guest blogger, because she didn’t follow up the comments done on the same, according to what was agreed before posting it, even after sending posterior emails to her, with zero feedback in return.