Renee Grant-Williams


When it comes to food and beverages, it seems that if it tastes good, it’s not good for you. However, here is a list of food and beverages I would recommend you avoid on a day that you plan on singing.

I want to start out by saying that the best thing you can do for your body and voice, especially before a show, is to DRINK PLENTY OF WATER! Without it you could damage your voice and ruin your performance!

As with anything, moderation and timing is key to enjoy life and keep your voice healthy.
I recommend that you wait until after the show, that’s the ultimate reward after a high-energy performance!


Dairy products tend to be mucus-producing which can be a big problem for singers. Many singers won’t touch dairy products. They say that it “muddies up” their tone. I suspect quite a few singers may be mildly allergic to dairy products, but may not suffer badly enough to realize they should avoid them. Could this be you?

The offending culprit in dairy products is known as casein. Casein is used as a binding agent in a number of processed foods and is sold in various protein powder forms used by fitness enthusiasts.

This protein is found in dairy products and contributes to the creation and formation of mucus that can find its way to a singer’s vocal cords.

Avoiding mucus build-up from the consumption of casein is extremely difficult because it accounts for approximately 80% of the proteins in cow milk, which is then used in the creation of several other dairy-based products.

Casein is found in higher quantities in dairy products with greater amounts of fat. Both ice cream and sour cream are high in fat. Singers should stay away from pizza because it typically has heavy, fatty cheese in addition to toppings that are usually high in salt.

Casein is less prevalent in yogurt and low-fat milk because both products have low fat contents, however, the protein is still present in those products. There are alternatives to consider, including both soy and almond-based milks, which have no casein and no lactose. The next time you drink a glass of milk or have a cup of yogurt, pay attention to how you feel and sound. Experiment when it doesn’t matter so that you are prepared when it does.


The problem is that alcohol is extremely dehydrating. We stand to lose more than we gain. Think of it as you would being lost at sea surrounded by tempting water that you cannot drink because its salt would make you even drier and eventually kill you.

Alcohol in your system can trigger unpredictable fluctuations in energy levels, making it difficult to support your voice with consistency. It also dries out and numbs your muscles and mucous membranes, two components that can harm your delicate vocal folds.

There are other factors which, from a physiological standpoint, have the potential to harm your vocal instrument along with the rest of your body: breathing difficulties, distorted vision, anemia, loss of red blood cells to name just a few.

Social issues are at risk as well. We lose perspective and our worst selves emerge when we drink too much, especially when you are on display performing. Combine alcohol with prescription pain killers and you have a recipe for disaster.

So turn that glass of wine into a glass of water until after the show.

Do you know what destroys more singers and bands than any single factor? You guessed it, drugs and alcohol. If you are serious about your career this is one more reason to limit or stay away from alcohol (and drugs.)

In Tip #3 we are going to discuss caffeine and sugar the highs and lows. There’s more to it than the jitters and weight again.


Both caffeine and sugar are energy boosters, but the risk is that both those energy sources may translate into a bad case of jitters and a dry throat on performance days. Caffeine and sugar give us a short-term productivity spurt that declines as the rush wears off.

If you love coffee, a cup early in the day probably won’t affect your voice, but 3 cups of coffee right before a big show will dry out your voice and give you the jitters.

Caffeine doesn’t always mean coffee. It comes in many devious forms; so on performance days also avoid chocolate, ice tea, soft drinks, and diet pills. Singers who drink 2-3 energy drinks or 2-3 cups of coffee will not only dehydrate, be their vocal folds may feel dry and scratchy. Your vocal cords are very fragile and need to be kept moist, especially right before and during a singing performance.

Also, if you sense you have a drop of energy after consuming caffeine or sugar, plan accordingly. A chocolate bar should be your last choice when the pressure is on and you need to count on your voice. Water, room temperature, with some lemon (if you want some flavor) is the best thing you can ingest for your throat and body.

One last word about energy drinks. They have been added to the growing list of things we get addicted to. If you read the bottom line it states “addiction to energy drinks can be dangerous to your health and it can be financially burdening.” So if you do consume energy drinks treat them the same as you would alcohol.


Now that I’ve taken all the fun out of dairy, alcohol, sweets and caffeine, let’s see what else creates havoc with our voices. And, this tip, is the one I have the most trouble with and I’ll bet you do too.

Avoid excessively fried, greasy foods and hard-to-digest red meat protein. These foods are likely to make you feel bloated and sluggish. Did you know that animal protein takes up to twelve hours to digest? Over-salted foods can act the same as a diuretic and will drain the water out of your body causing dehydration.

Avoid spicy foods that can irritate your throat as well as your vocal cords. This may make you feel the need to clear your throat more often—the last thing you want to be doing over the microphone during your performance.

Most people who know me or have seen some of my television interviews, have heard about my cheeseburger art collection and know about my love for this insanely killer food, but I recommend that you wait until after the show for that luscious sandwich and fries! To me, that’s the ultimate reward after a high-energy performance!


A food additive is any substance added during the production, processing, or storage of food. A manufactured product or even a product derived from nature, it may be salted to preserve or sugar used to sweeten.

Some people experience an adverse reaction to monosodium glutamate (MSG) and other food additives. Also, be wary of products that contain artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrups, trans fat, yeast, whey, soy and enzymes.

Food allergies are sneaky; they can turn up anywhere there is food preparation. They are certainly hiding in the meals you eat in restaurants. Learn to decipher the labels on food products and seek out a good allergist to find out exactly what affects you personally. Sounds like cheeseburgers are not going to make the recommended food list.

While I don’t expect you to give up all these yummy things, I do hope you will modify what you eat and drink especially when performing. And, keep these tips in the back of your mind for your everyday eating habits. Perhaps, they will even help you to become a more healthy you.


It might seem that there’s nothing left to eat. At least nothing fun. Aim for a good balance of protein and carbohydrates. Salads, fruit and vegetables, light protein—chicken or fish—and carbohydrates in moderation are best. They make you feel light instead of heavy.

It’s no surprise that these are the foods recommended to make your lighter and thinner on a weight-loss program and many serious health issues like diabetes, heart disease can be avoided if you eat healthy. Pay attention to your body and voice to find out what affects you.


Renee Grant-Williams explains her tips, tricks, and techniques. Her Master-Class Program lets you inside as she coaches and guides real people to find and sing their best voice


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