Nutrition No-No’s for a Good Voice

by Ann S. Utterback, Ph.D. on November 14, 2013

CookiesMany of my posts tell you what you should consume for a healthier throat, but I haven’t talked too much about what to avoid.  Let’s take a look at five landmines out there that can wreck your delivery.  These are especially relevant with the holiday season bearing down on us!

1)  Dairy Products.  Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against the American Dairy Association!  I  consume lots of dairy myself.  I do make a point of avoiding it, however, when I know I need a good vocal delivery.  Dairy tends to create mucous in the body, and for some people, like me, it results in throat clearing shortly after consuming it.  The extra mucous can be around as long as an hour or two–not what you want when you need a clear voice.  I suggest clients avoid dairy for an hour or so before voicing.  That means no eggnog before going on the air!

2) Excessive Caffeine. It’s hard to use your voice well when your mind is racing and your hands are shaking.  Too much caffeine can cause both these things to happen.  It’s a fine line to walk with caffeine, however, because a little caffeine can increase your focus and your energy.  Get too much, though, and you’re in trouble.  The general guideline I suggest is to have no more than around 200 mg. of caffeine a day.  A tall Starbuck’s has 240 mg.

3)  Too Much Sugar. This can affect your ability to stay focused just like caffeine can.  A bigger problem with sugar, however, is that consuming a lot will make your energy drop.  What happens is that sugar intake raises blood sugar as soon as you consume it and you feel great.  After about 20 minutes, however, the downside of sugar happens and your blood sugar drops lower than it was before you had the sugar.  In other words, a sugar rush can take your energy away and make you feel more fatigued.  That’s reason enough to stash those holiday treats where you can’t get to them during your work day.

4)  Too Much Alcohol. I’m not implying any of you do professional voicing while you’re drinking…..but even drinking a bit too much the night before can dehydrate your body and your throat.  You know how hangovers make you crave gallons of water?  That’s because of the diuretic effect of the alcohol.  If you want a healthy throat, keep your drinking to a minimum, sometimes not an easy task at holiday parties.

5)  Nuts, Peanut Butter, and Crackers. I love these foods, but I find that they tend to cling to my throat making me clear my throat after eating them.  As with dairy, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat them.  Quite the contrary!  Nuts and peanut butter are healthy sources of protein.  Just avoid them around air time.  Eat them other times of the day so that you won’t need to clear your throat or cough while on the air.

Want to know more about taking care of your voice?  Ck out the new, fifth edition of BROADCAST VOICE HANDBOOK. You’ll learn about vocal health and lots more!

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