The greater portion of my friends and acquaintances are touring musicians, people who spend a minimum of 50% of their year traveling. Often our conversations will revolve around this epic portion of people’s lives and inevitably I hear these words, “And the thing that is so hard to do is eat right and stay healthy. The road just wears on my body so much! I get home and feel so bad!”
So here is my initial response to those exasperated comments in three parts: eating well, exercise, and sleep. I know, I can already hear my friends starting to wind up to prove that monitoring these things is impossible, but in the end these are tested and proven theories. Thanks High Valley.
1) Eating- every meal is not your last
The common misconception about food on the road is either that you don’t have time to eat healthy, or that you had better eat a lot because you don’t know when your next meal will be. You can eat healthy and eat fast food. It’s called the, “Not eating a greasy cheeseburger with extra fries when there is a salad or grilled chicken sandwich on the menu” plan. McDonald’s actually has a great chicken salad, and Taco Bell just added their “Drive Thru Diet” menu. The key is balancing your intake. You need to limit the number of saturated fats, starch and glucose items such as white buns, burger grease, cheese, ketchup, fries, and soda pop. Instead, concentrate on in-taking complex carbs, protien and more easily processed calories such as lettuce, lean meats, whole grains, vegetables, and nuts. Oh, and you don’t need to eat your weight at every meal. On the road I always feel like I have to eat up, because I don’t know when I’ll be able to eat again. I have been proven false in this MANY times. Every green room as some kind of snack in it, and in America, there is a place to eat on every corner. You will not starve to death, so you don’t need to eat like it.
Okay, Okay! I know we have all heard this, or something like this before, but this is how I like to apply that very generic knowledge. Follow the 80/20 rule. Be assertive in eating 80% healthy and then the other 20% don’t worry about it. This is a much more realistic goal for people and keeps health from being too overwhelming while still moving them in a healthier direction. It’s just basic budgeting, that’s all.
When the band stops for breakfast, go to Chik-fil-a and get their Chicken Breakfast Burrito. The egg is a great source of protein and you are consuming a much smaller amount of white flour than you would with the Bacon Egg and Cheese Biscuit. It’s less fat, less sugar and more protein; plus you miss the massive insulin spike created by the sugar in the biscuit which will make you hyper for about 5 minutes then tired and depressed for about an hour while your adrenal glands work over-time to get you back to equilibrium. It’s not the PERFECT breakfast, but it’ll work. 80/20
When you stop at a gas station for a stretch, don’t get an energy drink and a bag of M&Ms, you don’t need energy, you are sitting in a car, plus it’s pretty much guaranteed that right when you need the energy you thought you would have, you will be having the famed “sugar crash”. Instead, get a low sugar drink (green tea or water), or a protein drink (muscle milk) and a trail mix. No they are not a bag of carrots and a wheat grass smoothie, but this isn’t Whole Foods, it’s a truck stop. 80/20 .
Dinners are a great chance to eat well. Nice restaurants will have hefty salads with lots of meat. But even better, you can mix and match your foods. If you NEED a burger, get the burger, but substitute fries for a side salad. Have steak, but trade potatoes for asparagus. Have the salmon dish, fish is a great lean meat laced with great nutrients essential oils. 80/20 (and invite someone who will pay for your dinner….just kidding…but not totally, if people want to support you, let them, don’t feel bad and order the cheapest trash on the menu, get something that’s good for you. People will understand this.)
This is, by no means, the exhaustive study on how you can eat healthy on the road, but it is at least a starting point to begin thinking about how to keep your mind and body strong while undergoing a pretty strenuous lifestyle. I have seen artists really lose at their shows because they don’t have the energy to perform. So, if you want to gain the maximum effect of your tour, stay healthy and pace yourself. 80/20 baby, 80/20.
(My next 2 blogs will cover Exercise and Sleep)