How many of you have ever experienced an “energy crash” before you went into an audition? Maybe you were feeling great and then, all of a sudden, you got tired, foggy, sluggish, etc. If so, it might be time for some reflection on your pre-performance eating habits. When it comes to nutrition for singers, there is one major consideration to keep in mind. There is a strong relationship between your vocal cords and your thyroid gland, which is a butterfly-shaped gland that surrounds your larynx (where your voice is produced). In addition to vocal quality, your thyroid contributes to many other systemic functions, including body temperature, pulse, heart rate, and digestion—all good things to be in charge of when you’re performing. Here are some thyroid-boosting foods that you might want to include before you audition (and heck, maybe every day).
1. Coconut oil. As far as I’m concerned, coconut oil is a magic food. It’s anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral. It increases your metabolic rate, helping you with fat loss and consistent energy. Coconut oil consists of medium-chain triglycerides, which, unlike other fats, can go directly to your liver to be metabolized as quick energy. I love to use Tropical Traditions organic expeller-pressed coconut oil. I prefer this kind over extra-virgin varieties because it has no coconut aftertaste and is easier to digest. I recommend that you cook with it and/or add it to soups, broths, drinks, or smoothies.
2. Gelatin. Gelatin is an excellent source of protein that has been linked to improved digestion, decreased joint inflammation, better sleep, and a reduction in allergy symptoms. It’s a great help to your thyroid because it doesn’t have the inflammatory amino acids that are in meats and soy—and the last thing you want before your audition is to have your cords be inflamed. Gelatin also contains glycine, an amino acid that helps to calm you down (bonus) and aids the liver in recovering from alcohol consumption. So if you had a bit too much last night (ahem), eat some gelatin, y’all. I use Great Lakes Gelatin, which is specially formulated to dissolve in any liquid without thickening it. I put it in juice, milk, coffee, yogurt, stews, etc. You can also try bone broth, which has many of the same properties. If you’re in NYC, Brodo in the East Village makes a delicious bone broth that’s available to take home and store in your freezer.
3. Eggs. Eggs are a complete protein, meaning that they contain all the essential amino acids that your thyroid needs to keep your body pumping. The yolks (and, to a lesser degree, the whites) also contain tons of vitamins and minerals. I prefer pasture-raised eggs (Vital Farms is a good brand); they are free of antibiotics and hormones, and the chickens get to have fresh air and eat a natural “chicken-y” diet without grains and soy. A couple of pasture-raised eggs cooked in coconut oil with salt (salt reduces your stress hormones) makes an ideal part of your pre-audition breakfast.
4. Fruit. Glucose (sugar) is the preferred source of energy for almost every cell in your body. It is also your brain’s main source of energy, and your brain may require up to 25–50 percent of your consumed glucose. Glucose is also needed for quick muscle energy, and two things we need to be working in our auditions are our brains and our muscles. Fruits, which are high in a version of glucose called fructose, metabolize more evenly and consistently than bread, corn, etc. A piece of fruit combined with some fat and salt (I’m obsessed with Jackson’s Honest coconut oil potato chips and sweet potato chips) can be a great light lunch or snack before you perform.
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