Eating healthy on the road can be tough, especially with the convenience of restaurants and fast food all around you. We’re here to share some healthy eating tips we found to help you feel at your best in order to perform at your best while on tour.
Too many restaurant and fast food meals while touring is never a good thing. Ingesting foods high in fat, salt, and sugar leads to weight increase, fatigue and can worsen pre-existing health conditions (eg. diabetes). Also, there’s often a lack of vitamins, fiber, and nutrients necessary to sustain the high-intensity lifestyle of a musician on tour.
Poor diet, lack of exercise, long hours and the stress of touring can quickly wear your body down. Here are some steps you can take and tips to help you keep a healthy diet and stay active on the road.
- Plan Ahead: look into where you’re going and for how long. You can research restaurants with healthy options (or vegan/vegetarian options). Look for grocery stores that offer fresh produce and healthy snacks or for local farmer’s markets , especially if you have a medical condition or food allergies. Taking time to plan ahead will not only save you money, you’ll also likely have more energy be less likely to come down sick while traveling.
- Try to avoid fast food: Fast food can be an enjoyable indulgence now and again but avoid relying on it on the road. If you eat fast food, make smart choices. Avoid soda, milkshakes, french fries, and cheese. Instead choose a salad, applesauce or fruit cup. Many now offer healthy options and list the calorie count on the menus.
- Make better restaurant choices: Restaurants are convenient, especially after a long day of traveling and gigging. Poor eating happens in restaurants more than anywhere else. Make the most of choice here and substitute healthy items whenever possible. Your body will thank you in the long run. Opt for steamed veggies instead of french fries, whole grain bread instead of white bread. Ask your server about the “no salt,” “heart healthy,” or “low carb” options available.
- Invest in a small cooler: pack snacks so you’re not skipping meals OR eating unhealthy late night meals after a gig. To cut down on unhealthy foods buy a small cooler, about the size that holds six cans (example). Often these come with shoulder straps and are so convenient, they can become part of your carry-on luggage. This allows you to travel with produce, giving you healthy options wherever you go. Buy a re-freezable cold pack or fill a zipper bag with ice. Fill the cooler with the following:
Other healthy snack options include: Raw nuts, crackers, energy bars, dried fruit.
- Stay Hydrated: Hydration is just as important as nutrition, especially for performers who are constantly moving around. Try carrying around a refillable water bottle and drink several bottles throughout the day.
- Avoid alcohol: if you’re having trouble relaxing after shows or are unable to sleep, try to avoid using alcohol to relax. Instead, try a non-caffeinated herbal tea. One problem with alcohol, especially overindulgence, is that it can cause your blood sugar to drop, waking you up in the middle of the night, or worse lead to dependency or addiction. Eating too late at night (especially unhealthy fried foods) can do the same.
- Try to avoid too much caffeine: opt for green tea instead of coffee in the morning- it’s a better option that’s slightly lower in caffeine than coffee and is also rich in antioxidants and contains an amino acid (called theanine) whose calming effects may help balance the caffeine.
- Keep moving! Being on a bus, plane or in a van all day can have horrible effects on your body. When you’re able to, stay in motion! Try to remember to stretch regularly or take a few minutes to be active every day. Go for a quick jog or do a 15 minute yoga routine.
- Stay Rested: Getting enough sleep at night and resting when your body tells you to is VERY important. Learn more about sleep hygiene here.
Every body is different so adapt these suggestions to your own needs and preferences. Also, speak to your health care provider or a nutritionist if you have any special questions or concerns.
Many of these tips came from from Musician Nutrition specialist Karen Stauffer. Read more articles on her specialty–nutrition for musicians–at her website HERE.