It’s delicious isn’t it? A nice big slab of chocolate; but did you know that every bite will affect your singing?
Now, I have heard many a word of caution regarding the consumption of dairy, especially prior to singing. The overarching school of thought within traditional vocal health practice is that singers should avoid consuming dairy prior to singing, if at all. My 16 year old self once had a much-longed-for hot chocolate whipped from my hands prior to singing solo in a school concert due to the ‘danger’ that is dairy. Many singers wouldn’t consume any dairy within 24 hours of a big sing, whilst others ensure no risks are run by cutting it out of their diet altogether.
But WHY should you avoid dairy?(especially when it tastes so good!)
Basically, consuming dairy activates our tissues to produce more mucous. These tissues line our mouth, nose, throat…our gastrointestinal tract, and mucous acts as a lubricant and also a flytrap for bacteria we ingest; it’s actually a protective blanket! And the average healthy human produces up to 1.5 litres of the stuff a day (nice).
Unfortunately, consuming milk-based foods may cause some people to produce even more mucous due to something called ‘gustatory rhinitis’ – a science-y word for feeling more ‘phlegmy’. And this can effect the closure of our vocal folds, especially in upper reaches of our vocal range. Although I would emphasise that this can be felt more in some people, but not all in others; it really is a case of self-monitoring. How do you feel after a big cheese platter? Could you sing the Queen of the Night at your best?
And just for the record, what is dairy? ‘Any food produced from the milk of mammals’ – it’s a basic question with a basic answer. But you would be surprised how often food product contains dairy. So here’s a wee list for you, and boy, it is everywhere!
If you do feel the effects of consuming the white stuff on your voice or feel that you nurse an overactive mucosal production system, then this is for you. *Beware the secret dairy*
- Milk (apart from soy/oat/other plant-based milks) – goats milk is still dairy as it is produced by a mammal!
- Cheese (in any form)
- Creme cheese
- Yoghurt (ditto)
- Yakult (friendly bacteria and all)
- Butter/Marg/Spreads in general
- ICE cream
- Kulfi/Lassi (Indian dreams)
- Custard/Creme Anglais
- Whey protein products
- Infant formula
As I say, I would recommend self-monitoring in relation to your dairy consumption. If you do feel you have less control higher in your range, especially after a four-cheese pizza, why not cut out dairy from your diet for a month? The effects could even extend beyond that of your vocal clarity and stability; many people report weight, notice less acne breakouts or feel less sluggish after cutting out dairy from their diet.
Don’t forget, in addition to these helpful tips and techniques that I publishing here, I also provide one-to-one vocal coaching and singing lessons in Glasgow that really can take you to the next level by following a fun programme that I have developed.