, ,

What not to eat and drink before using the voice intensely

There are a few foods and drinks that should be avoided at least 3 hours before any kind of performance, presentation, full day’s teaching, speaking in court, constant telephone calling, Skyping, lecturing…. etc.  Keep these till after you’ve finished.

Here are some of the NoNos I shall tackle in this blog. 

Dairy; Processed Sugar; Caffeine; Chocolate; Fried food; Butter; Hot and Cold water (drinks); Fizzy drinks; Alcohol; Spicy foods; Empty tum.


Dairy – is difficult for the body to break down.  It’s a clingy bugger, and around the laryngeal area, thickens mucus (catarrh) that desperately needs to be thin and lubricating for the vocal folds to work efficiently and healthily.  When the vocal folds are covered with a thick layer of clingy, sticky mucus we set up a cycle of throat-clearing, which harmfully slams the vocal folds together potential causing vocal distress. This may result in hoarseness, haemorrhage and nodules. In some cases, dairy can cause acid reflux/heartburn.

Processed Sugar – hangs around the oral cavity (mouth and teeth) and throat, inducing excess mucus (catarrh) and possible sugar rushes, leaving you too drained to perform efficiently when you hit that sugar slump. When this occurs, you will be overusing and overworking the larynx unnecessarily and harmfully, causing vocal fatigue and distress.

Caffeine – is a diuretic, which makes you pee more, leaving the body dehydrated. Any water taken on board is almost immediately flushed out of the body before it gets a chance to hit the vital organs. Caffeine also dries out the vocal folds, which are striving to stay lubricated for efficient and healthy vocalising.  Caffeine constricts the throat (laryngeal) muscles, which in turn makes for effortful vocalising, putting strain on the larynx.

Chocolate – contains caffeine, sugar and dairy so is a complete ‘hat trick’ to a disastrous performance.

Fried foods – again lead to gunky vocal folds as fried foods usually absorb loads of oil, unless fried dry.  Fried foods potentially trigger heartburn /acid reflux.

Butter – is oily and a dairy so thickens that lovely mucus which so desperately wants to stay lubricating and thin to protect the vocal folds.

Hot and cold water (drinks) – constrict the laryngeal muscles causing loss of flexibility, over-voicing, hoarseness, strain and consequent distress. Drink water at room temperature.

Fizzy drinks – potentially cause acid reflux / heartburn and burping.  Also, the addition of sugar or equivalent substitutes cause highs and slumps in energy levels, which need to be optimal for stress free vocalising.

Alcohol – is similar to caffeine. Alcohol dries the throat and vocal folds and can be full of sugar and fizz.

Spicy foods – can cause acid reflux / heartburn.

Empty tum – is not good for the much needed energy to perform.  Make sure you eat but are not overly stuffed.  You need food / fuel to run efficiently and healthily. Think of a car.

About Amanda

I became a Voice Practitioner and Complementary Therapist to be able to help with all-round support, not just addressing vocal issues, but also ensuring that mind and body are equally healthy to be able to support the voice. For further details of ‘my journey’ please read more here, or reach out on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Leave a comment


Vocal Health and Vocal Hygiene

Tips on surviving exams