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Eating Healthy on the Road: Is it Possible?

2013 is becoming an era where musicians are putting down the Jaeger and pizza and are reaching for the hot teas and hummus—it’s not all about sex, drugs and rock n’ roll anymore.  According to Lisa Tolin, East Coast entertainment and lifestyles editor for The Associated Press, artists such as Adele, Iggy Pop, M.I.A., Jimmy Buffet and Bon Iver’s Justin Vermon are swapping booze and craft services for nutritious meals and throat soothing teas. Even if you don’t have a lot of money to spend, there are healthy alternatives to eating on the road other than fast food and alcohol.

Most likely if you are any of the above named musicians, you are probably going to have the luxury of touring on a bus and the support that allows you to make healthier options. If you’re a musician just starting out and you and your band members all have to pile inside of a van, guess this means you’re going to have to pick out your own brown M&M’s, and try to avoid falling into the trap of free beer and poor food choices.

Julie Clark, female bass player extraordinaire, fell into that trap the first time she went out on tour with Shawn Mullins.  Looking back at the first time she went out on tour, she can’t help but call herself a rookie. She recalls late, late nights which meant late meals after shows and an abundance of pizza, beer, deli trays, chips, dips, and sodas.  Coming home from the first leg of the tour Clark felt like “the biggest, fattest, laziest slob ever!” Since most musicians are out of the road for weeks at a time, this is probably not the lifestyle that is going to help with your performance. By the time Clark went out for the second leg of the tour, she had a plan: “I brought a couple of containers with me and kept them with my belongings.  I would squirrel away the turkey and cheeses from the deli tray along with carrots and celery.  When the bus would pull over I would avoid the high calorie food and make a sandwich.”  Not only did she avoid indigestion, but she also managed not to spend any of her per diem money.  Back then Clark was given a $25/day per diem, which resulted in some cold, hard cash at the end of the tour.  Aside from health and some extra pocket money, exercise had become a priority, too.  She would always seek out the fitness room in the hotel, and was able to use the exercise bike and treadmill that Hootie and the Blowfish carried around with them on tour.  Clark states, “I know that it is challenging to keep up that mentality of exercising but when I was playing professionally, I considered it part of my job to be somewhat decent to look at on stage.” Fit, rich and hot, Clark had really learned a thing or two about a healthy lifestyle co-existing with life on the road which only aided in a better performance.

If you are ever so lucky to find yourself in a band that is going to hit the road, here are some tips to help you maintain a healthier lifestyle:

*Keep healthy snacks in your backpack to ward off a convenience store drop-in or fast food drive-thrus. Granola bars, dried fruits and almonds are easy, go-to snacks.

*Have a stash of food in the van or tour bus. If you do not have access to refrigeration, keep a cooler filled with ice to store sliced meats, cheese and vegetables.

*Don’t forget your vitamins! The human body needs a certain amount of vitamins and minerals every day in order to remain healthy and function properly.  A balanced diet normally supplies sufficient vitamins, but when you are on the road it may not be as balanced as you would like.  Favored by stars of Twilight, Glee and The Voice, alternaVites provide all of the benefits of a multivitamin without the pill – it is a high quality vitamin powder that the user can take on the go. They provide 23 essential vitamins and can be poured on yogurts and smoothies for a quick vitamin infusion.

*Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Whether you keep bottled water on hand, or you carry a re-fillable one, also be sure to drink regularly.

*The hardest one of all: Monitor your alcohol level! Any bit of alcohol dehydrates the body which is the reason why you experience a hangover.  It doesn’t mean you have to be dry.  If you enjoy your alcohol, limit yourself to only several drinks a day, and space them out over time.  It helps to to drink some water in between, too.

*Worship the burrito. Yes, the burrito. Compact and portable and readily available at most food places, the burrito can offer an entire day’s worth of nutrition at a small price. You can get your veggies, protein and healthy carbs in just one meal; and opt for whole grain wraps. One restaurant of particular interest is Moe’s Southwest Grill which can be found at numerous locations across the US. Moe’s prides itself in serving 20+ fresh ingredients prepared daily including all natural meats, organic ingredients, and tofu for the vegetarian. Moe’s is also a big fan of music, especially icons of the industry. At Moe’s, they enjoy paying homage to these legends, so you will notice when you walk in to a Moe’s Restaurant, every song you hear over the speaker is either a song preformed by a deceased artist, or a song paying tribute to a deceased artist.

*We live in a world of smartphones and apps. Use them!  One in particular sparking the healthy touring trend is inBloom. Created by Andy Ross of OK Go and Eytan Oren of Eytan and The Embassy are making it easier for touring bands to live sustainably on the road. It has already launched in New York, and just last month it has spanned out to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago. It is customized for specific dietary needs and eco-preferences.

So taking the healthy road while on tour might be easier said than done, but it is feasible with a little bit of work and conscience effort.

There are added bonuses to living a healthy lifestyle like feeling better and having energy which not only will you appreciate, but so will your fans.

Musicians owe it to themselves to have a better, longer healthier life.

Rock on!

Amy Arnold




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