Foods That Are Bad for a Singer's Voice

Asian woman singing with microphone
Vocalists should avoid salty foods to protect their voices. (Image: Tanya Constantine/Blend Images/Getty Images)

Singers must take special care of their voices to ensure long and successful careers. Some vocal coaches suggest breathing in humid air and getting adequate quantities of sleep, avoiding cigarette smoke, air conditioning and anesthesia to keep the voice healthy. Particular foods are bad for a singer's voice, so review your meal plan carefully if you have an upcoming performance.

Salty Foods

A singer needs a well-lubricated instrument before a performance -- in this case, the instrument consists of the mouth, throat and vocal cords. Avoid eating salty foods prior to singing, as salt draws moisture out of the body. This can lead to a dry mouth, making it more difficult to sing. Decrease your consumption of foods such as pretzels, salted nuts and foods containing soy sauce to keep your salt intake low and your voice in top shape.

Foods Containing Caffeine

Some professionals frown upon drinking or eating anything with caffeine the day of a singing performance. Kristina Seleshanko, a voice coach in Oregon, notes that caffeine may slowly dry out your throat, which can be a problem when singing. While coffee, tea and soft drinks may contain caffeine, you should also decrease your consumption of chocolate and products containing chocolate, such as chocolate ice cream.

Heartburn Triggers

Avoid eating anything you know triggers heartburn, as this condition sends a shower of stomach acid into your esophagus. This may cause inflammation of the vocal cords, which can damage your voice and singing ability. Chocolate, ketchup and other tomato products, fried foods, mustard, citrus, onions, peppermint and vinegar are all common heartburn triggers, so monitor your intake of these foods, especially before a performance.

Dairy Products

Eat dairy products selectively when you are a singer. Too much dairy in your diet, particularly before a performance, can trigger excess mucus production. This may interfere with your ability to sing, as phlegm and mucus can affect the voice. Reduce your consumption of foods such as milk, yogurt, cheese, ice cream and cottage cheese when you must sing. If you are a professional singer who avoids dairy regularly, you may need to take a calcium supplement to make up for the nutrients you miss in these foods.

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