Touring Musician 101: Stay Healthy Part 1

13 Jun

Thai Food!

Oh, “stay healthy.” How generic, Jana. Why not just copy and paste an article from Women’s Day and call it good?

I know, we should all stay healthy for health’s sake…but touring around in a car or van poses some unique obstacles, hence…Women’s Day isn’t going to cut it for this series. What follows are just simply some things I have found to either work or not work for me. Everyone is different, but we’re all sitting in cars a lot.

– Weekends. We go on trips lasting 2-3 days that don’t really require a whole lot of food forethought. We carry a box full of every kind of good granola bar we know of…Lara, Cliff, Kashi. Having variety really helps when you are faced with the decision of granola bar or granola bar. Usually venues or the kind folks we stay with take care of food things, too. Home cooked food is awesome. Venue food is tricky, because the onion rings are always going to look good, but if there’s a salad, get a salad. This is generic advice stuff, but when your tab is covered and you’re staring at the “Fried 3 Sampler” versus the grilled chicken salad, it gets hard. Just do it.

– A week. All of the above plus go to the store and pack a cooler. Things we buy include almonds, trail mix, apples, plums, bananas, string cheese, carrots, and something carby. Don’t get everything with carbs, because you’re still sitting a lot even if you buy whole grain carbs instead of eat deep fried ones. The trick to having a cooler is to keep it iced and to actually eat the stuff in it. I am Offender No. 1 when it comes to thinking carrots are a good idea at the time and then not eating them for the whole trip. Note to self: Just eat the carrots!

– A month. This clearly requires some maintenance and pruning of your cooler supply. The good news is use this as an opportunity to get to know a cool grocery store in some other town (or a Wal-Mart, whatever works if you shop at 2 AM) and replenish once a week or so. We tour up in Montana in the summer which means we get local cherries. Be a local foodie, because it usually means you’re eating better.

Sometimes you just don’t want to eat anything from the cooler. If you have to open that lid one more time and find the string cheese under the one Red Delicious that is hiding next to the baby carrots you just might surely pass away right there from boredom. Since you’ve been awesome about your budget by using a cooler, you can afford to eat out! We choose Thai food when we can, because we like it and the ingredients are usually fresh…bottom line, don’t go fast food. Don’t do it. Try to eat food from places that start with whole ingredients.

Fruit and Veggies in Seattle
If you tour in Seattle you have scored.

So I sound all preachy and locavore and stuff, but the truth is we stop at truck stops and convenience stores a lot. The good news is Subway has become the new megalith of fast food, and they’re big about truck stop locations. Granted, if you’re comparing Subway to Whole Foods, you’re still eating fairly badly…but at least you are getting vegetables in your diet. Load up on the vegetables and then load up again. They try to get away with putting 2 cucumber slices on your sandwich, but don’t fall for it. Demand thine veggies! Once again, besides Subway, do not do fast food. Or eat it once a week, not every day.

Just be sane and thoughtful about it, and then remember that your calorie burning is severely reduced because all you’re doing is sitting, so subtract accordingly. Sometimes, a granola bar is all you need.

2 Responses to Touring Musician 101: Stay Healthy Part 1



June 14th, 2011 at 5:19 pm

Way to balance the real with the ideal! Love it. 🙂



June 23rd, 2011 at 12:15 pm

I’m pleased to see this post. I find myself going out of town and acting as if calories aren’t worth as much (kind of like going somewhere where the unit of money is only worth a quarter or a sixth of a dollar). I’ll load up on chocolate, as if not doing so will cause me to possibly die. And going out to eat is also permission to splurge in calories (as if at home I’m some sort of saint who only eats the most nutritionally dense foods). I’m glad to hear that you not only expect yourself to eat decently on the road, but that you have a plan. We can all “just eat better,” but without a plan to guide our choices, we’re left unsupported.

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