This is not something to fool around with! As a person with an autoimmune disorder that is directly affected by healthy (or unhealthy) eating, I can tell you that the energy you get from food does count. There was a time when I was drained, exhausted, unable to complete my work, and unable to focus in the practice room. This was in part due to family stress and managing hypothyroidism, but another cause was food health. Now, I’ve made a few tweaks and paid more attention recently, and it’s a whole new world. I can achieve twice as much on a healthy day than I can on a day when things are rushed and what I eat is a hodgepodge of junk. Exercise is great, too, but sometimes it’s not enough. I love to run, but no matter how much I do or don’t run, healthy eating always comes into play. It can be so hard, especially when you’re doing your own cooking, to make time for health. With crazy busy schedules, musicians often don’t find time to take care of themselves. But eating and cooking healthy can be for everyone, so this applies to musicians, too!
Here’s a secret: planning meals can serve as a break from the busyness because it’s totally about creativity and fun. I often will have a night where I try to concoct something without using a recipe, just using what’s leftover in the fridge. Last week, I made an oatmeal-apple dessert pizza out of a pie crust, apples, oats, and some caramel (and a couple of other secret ingredients). Tonight, I practiced my flute while my rice was cooking on the stove. Brown rice is a great way to start a meal. I had some leftover vegetables as well, and chopped some onions and bell peppers to stir fry with garlic and egg. Adding my rice to the pan and whatever spices I grabbed from the cabinet was pleasantly surprising, because it didn’t turn out horribly! When I first started cooking, it took so much time and often was unsuccessful that I started to revert to unhealthier habits because I didn’t think it was worth it. A trick of the trade: you can multitask. For me, that often means practicing and taking a five-minute break to check the oven. Listen to a piece of music or have your computer read aloud to you while you’re working at the stove. Get to know which meals take more time to make so that the quick ones can be done on a busy day. My favorite healthy meals in under fifteen minutes: omelettes with fresh veggies, brown rice and roasted salmon, Crockpot whole wheat spaghetti, baked spinach and artichoke chicken, arugula salad, baked squash, tacos, stuffed peppers, and veggie soup.
Some things I use weekly: my Crockpot, vegetable steamer, rice cooker, toaster, and salad spinner. These items make things go so much faster that they are must-haves on a wishlist. Also, it’s great to buy healthy snacks when they’re on sale and always have some in your gig bag or instrument case.
Have fun with it, and the more you do it, the easier it gets!