"After a few weeks on the road, you start to get weary. After a couple of months, you’re constantly tired in a low level sort of way. Sure, you may be getting enough sleep, but it’s a restless, uncomfortable sleep that silently wears on every fiber of your being. When that happens, it’s easy to give up on any health routines that you might have and just want to survive. That’s when you have to be more vigilant than ever before you slip into some nasty health-related habits that can stay with you for the rest of your life.
What To Stay Away From
One of the first things to get out of whack is your diet. Junk foods are never good for you, but they can be especially hazardous on the road. Fast food not only can add some unwanted pounds but the added dairy products like cheese and mayonnaise can play havoc with your voice (more on that in a bit). Mayo alone can easily add 200 calories to a dish and anything with a cream sauce even more. You’re better off to ask them to hold it or put it on the side.
The most important thing is to eat healthy, and it’s so easy not to in our situation. There are snacks and sodas around all day and you have a number of choices for meals because most (of the bigger) tours are very well catered. So you need to watch your diet and keep your weight down. A lot of guys put on weight when they go out on tour because they eat a lot at meals and eat a lot after the show. Terry Lawless: keyboard tech with U2
Watch your diet. That’s a big deal. I’ve seen so many guys that would go out on their first tour and come back a year later and they’d gained forty pounds. You get to the venue at about four o’clock and backstage there’s going to be catering, it’s going to be good, and you’re going to pig out. As you know, musicians are not known for their self-control. Mike Holmes: keyboard player for Lee Greenwood, Leroy Parnell, and Delbert McClinton
You have to stay away from eating pizza every single night, unless your twenty-five and still have the metabolism of a hummingbird (laughs). The older you get, the better shape you can keep your body and mind, the better you’re going to perform and play.
One of the things that’s great about being on the road is that you travel to great cities and you can eat a lot of great food and you can go out and party with your friends every now and then and have a really great time. But you can’t do that every night because you’re going to end up fat and lazy and not in very good shape. Eventually it will take it’s toll no matter who you are. Paul Mirkovich: musical director for Cher, Pink, Janet Jackson and Anastasia
Some Good Things To Eat
On the bus, apples and peanut butter on whole wheat bread is a good source of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and roughage, and will help you save your pre diem. It’s easy to get dehydrated so drink lots and lots of water, and substitute fruit juice instead of soda whenever you can. Healthy alternatives like protein bars, dried fruit, trail mix and nuts are easy to take with you to snack on, and the more fresh fruit you can eat, the better.
I also take Power Bars or some kind of nutritional bar on the road with me because you can’t depend upon other people for your sustenance on the road. I’ve been stuck before when we’ve missed our flight and nobody had any money for food, so I learned never to go out on the road broke. Don’t let anyone stick you on an eight hour bus ride on a sit-up bus with no food and no water where they’re telling you, “We can’t stop because we don’t have the time. We’re going to miss sound check as it is.” While that may be true, you have to take care of yourself, so when you get on the bus, take a bottle of water and a couple of Power Bars. If they stop for lunch, great. If they don’t, you’re still covered. Ed Wynne: sax player for Al McKay's All Stars and formerly of The Doobie Brothers
When To Eat
The best time of the day for your biggest meal is lunch, since a light dinner works best to prepare your metabolism for the show. At lunch you usually have a great variety of dishes to choose from with a lot of healthy alternatives. Be on the lookout for ethnic restaurants because they usually have many healthy alternatives rich in vegetables and protein alternatives like tofu. If possible, remember to substitute brown rice for white; it’s healthier for you.
Try not to eat after the gig. The only kitchens that seem to be open late are the ones that feature deep-fried food. When you eat a grease-laden meal before you go to bed, there’s no chance for your body to work it off. The calories can really add up after a few nights a week of post-gig fried food gorging. If you must eat after a gig, keep it light and healthy.
Finally, take a shower whenever the opportunity presents itself, since it doesn’t come often enough."
You can read additional excerpts from The Touring Musician's Handbook and others at bobbyowsinski.com.
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