In this 3 part blog series we’ll address some of the challenges musicians face when it comes to nutrition, provide some background information about how our body utilizes the fuel we give it, and recommend a Musician’s Diet for optimal performance.
Common Challenges of Healthy Eating for Musicians
Time to grocery shop, to cook, to clean up… I have to practice!
As musicians we often say we don’t have enough time to eat healthy. “If I only had time to cook! I’ll just have a granola bar — gotta go to rehearsal now!” This is a bit of a catch 22, as eating healthy actually gives us more hours in the day. With intentional healthy eating, we get more work done in less time, reach deeper levels of understanding in our creative selves, enjoy more of our day-to-day music making, and have more energy throughout the day.
Energy I’d rather save my energy for something else, like practicing!
Where do you think our energy actually comes from? FOOD! The way that we feel is largely governed by what we put into our bodies (this can also be read more globally to include other stimuli such as our social relationships, our focus time, our experiences, etc., but we’ll stick to nutrition for today). If you invest time to eat healthy, you’re also investing in everything else you do that day. Your healthy eating makes everythingbetter — it’s not an energy drain, but an energy gain. Additionally, the time and energy you spend preparing a healthy meal or snack will soon become a routine (blog on the power healthy routines coming soon!) where you mentally prepare and reward yourself for treating your body well.
Uncertainty I don't even know where to begin with healthy eating, seems like everybody is telling me this is good and that’s bad…
This is true. There’s an overwhelming amount of fad diets that come in and out of the news. They come and go so frequently because the bottom line is there isn’t one diet that works for everybody (sorry entrepreneurs!). Even the diet we suggest specifically for musicians might need a little tweaking to be ideal for you. Dieting is beneficial because it challenges us to start changing our eating habits in a conscious way, and allows us opportunity to notice the differences in how we feel during the day. You don’t have to know exactly where to begin (though we think we have a pretty good recommendation for you in Parts 2 and 3 of this series…), you just have to start.
The Power of Habit I’ve been eating a certain way for a long time, and it’s mostly working so far, so why bother?
Change is challenging. We have to decide for ourselves that the potential pros of change outweigh the cons of staying the same. We often hear it takes roughly 20 days to form new habits, which is a pretty minimal time investment for something that is going to make your quality of life better for the rest of your life. You don’t have much to lose and everything to gain just by trying.
My stomach can’t handle food before a performance!
Many musicians say they simply can not eat before a performance. We’ve compiled some research from sports/dance medicine and distilled it for musicians to address this issue of pre and post-performance nutrition guidelines. This is a handout by physical therapist Tom McGary, originally presented in the Keys to Healthy Music class at the Eastman School of Music.
Pre and Post-Performance Nutritional Planning
In our next post, Part 2, we’ll look at specific foods (quick convenient options that musicians often choose — the good and the bad) and how our body utilizes their fuel for music performance. In Part 3, we’ll suggest a Musician Specific Nutrition Plan.
In the meantime, what types of challenges do you face regarding nutrition as a musician? Do you have any solutions or suggestions for others responding to these challenges? Share your experiences with us in the comment section below.