Artists aren’t known for being health-conscious fitness gurus, especially not while they are on tour. With a few exceptions, artists are often eating a lot of deep-fried, starchy food that is devoid of nutrients.
There are a few very good reasons for this. It’s not that we want to eat fries and burgers every night (okay, that might be a lie), but it’s often the only option.
Most bands make very little to no money on the road. You’ve probably begged the venue or promoter to provide meals for you, but that in no way guarantees you anything more than a burger and a sad house salad, and maybe two beers.
Then, when you’re traveling, you’re running a tight schedule, sitting down is not always an option, and healthy, affordable takeout becomes a thing of myth.
So, you end up eating gas-station danishes more than you would care to admit and acquainting yourself with the Value Menu.
Most of us can do this for a while, but it will catch up with you.
It’s also not as cheap as you might expect. If you start “splurging” and getting the more expensive, but tastier fast food items, you’ll end up spending more than you should.
So, all that being said, here are a few ways to eat better on the road. Here are my recommendations:
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1. The Cooler Is Your Friend
I’ve done a few tours with a cooler and a few tours without one. If I have a cooler, I am far more likely to buy and eat healthy snacks, and save money by packing up meals that I don’t finish.
Also, if you have leftover drinks from your rider (if you have one), you can stick them in the cooler. Win!
If you have a cooler, you can buy things like hummus, fruits, vegetables, and keep leftovers from the night before. They can facilitate penny-pinching and healthy eating.
My one word of advice on the subject of coolers is this: Practice good cooler hygiene.
Especially in warm weather, it’s important to take your cooler into your accommodations, keep ice replenished, and empty out old food.
Coolers get gross really fast. If you are not careful, you will have a stinky, moldy cooler on your hands. That is not a situation that you want to deal with.
2. Healthy Eats Are Determined By Where You Stop
The food you eat will only be as good as the places you stop.
If you are stopping at McDonald’s, you’ll end up getting a snack there.
If you are stopping at a grocery store, there is no guarantee you won’t head to the bakery, but at least you’ll have the option to head to the produce aisle.
Consciously making the decision to stop at places with healthy options will lead you to make healthier choices. This is why I try to stop at grocery stores, even for coffee. Many grocery stores in my area have Starbucks, so I can grab a coffee, and instead of a bagel, I buy a banana.
3. Eat Protein
Whenever possible, have a protein filled snack. For breakfast, eat a couple eggs. Peanut butter and celery sticks, trail mix, roasted chickpeas, granola, edamame and seeds are all better ways to snack.
Protein will hold you over better, so you’ll end up reaching for chips less than you would otherwise.
At restaurants, opt for options that have more protein and less starchy carbs. Starchy meals don’t typically hold you as well as a protein focused meal.
This can be difficult if you are a vegetarian or vegan. I am a vegetarian, and occasionally I find myself eating a lot more bread than I normally would. Don’t get me wrong, I love bread, but those calories add up.
I try to make an effort to eat salad and soup more than usual and I go for smoothies whenever I can. I don’t really like salad, but I feel better for it at the end of the day.
4. Drink Water & Coffee At Gas Stations
Sugary drinks (even juice) are unnecessary calories. Water, coffee, and tea are all no/low-calorie options to quench your thirst.
It’s very easy to get dehydrated on tour. A lot of the time, when I want a snack, I’m actually just thirsty. It’s tempting to reach for a Coke, but you won’t regret getting the water instead.
If you’re bored by water, go for club soda. You can add lemon to it or a bit of flavor to make it a super low-cal drink.
Coffee and tea have basically no calories when they are drunk black, so feel free to jack up your caffeine intake. I love coffee, so this is really no issue for me.
5. Back Off On The Booze
One of the biggest health disasters for bands on the road is booze. A lot of the time, there will be free booze, and either way you’ll end up in a situation where everyone is drinking.
There is a lot of pressure to have a drink in your hand or a drink on stage. People will invite you to drink with them and people will be buying you shots of alcohol.
This is bad for many reasons. Calories add up very quickly when you’re drinking. It’s very easy to drink 500 to 600 calories and not even notice.
You’ll also end up getting drunk, which is fine every once in a while, but if it becomes a habit, it becomes a problem. Too many musicians end up developing an unhealthy relationship with alcohol.
Performing drunk may feel good, but it absolutely lowers the value of the show.
Driving drunk is extremely dangerous and carries heavy consequences if you are caught.
It’s always better to err on the side of caution. Make sure one band member has nothing to drink, and everyone else should exercise moderation. On a day off, go ahead. But otherwise, keep it on the down low.
Lastly, when you drink, you’ll probably end up ordering fries and a pizza, and then all of your careful work is for naught!
6. Take A Multi-Vitamin
I’m not sure what the evidence is for the efficacy of multi-vitamins, but I take one every day while I’m on the road.
Especially as a vegetarian, it’s easy to become deficient in important vitamins and minerals. Taking a multi-vitamin just ensures that your bases are covered.
I recommend getting one that has Vitamin D, B12, and Iron. Especially for vegetarians, these are areas that often end up lacking. Both Vitamin D and B12 carry potential benefits for your mental health, and you should be very careful to take care of both your physical and mental health.
7. Get Some Exercise
While this is not a tip on how to eat, it’s just a good idea. You don’t need to hit the gym or even go for runs. Just encourage your band mates to walk instead of driving.
Go for a hike! Walk around the city you’re in. It’s a great way to get a feel for a place, and you’re burning calories while you’re at it.
Take the stairs in your hotel.
Make sure to get out and stretch when you’re doing a long drive.
Try to stretch when you wake up every day.
Conclusion: Keep A Healthy Outlook
Basically, you just need to be thinking about your health. If you are taking care of yourself, you’ll have more energy, you’ll enjoy yourself more, and your shows will improve.
Touring is hard on the body – physically and mentally. If you want to keep touring, you need to start developing these healthy habits.