Is Thanksgiving Dinner Bad for Your Vocal Health?

Thanksgiving is upon us, and you know what that means – awkward conversations with relatives, yelling at football games all weekend on the TV screen, complaints about stores opening earlier and earlier in preparation for Black Friday, secret wishes on your Black Friday shopping list, and of course, food. Turkey, stuffing, green beans, potatoes… all right, we’re making ourselves hungry at this point. As a voice actor, your vocal health is very important – especially with the holiday season and all the delicious food temptations that you will have a hard time saying no to, without considering the effects they might have on your body. So, is Thanksgiving dinner bad for your voice? Should you skip the yams this year in favor of vocal rest?

Well, for all you voice over artists out there, there’s good news and bad news – the good news is that Thanksgiving dinner can be healthy for your body and for your voice, as long as you stick to a properly balanced meal, and most importantly, a good well-deserved rest. The bad news is it’s really easy to make it not healthy.

A Healthy Thanksgiving Dinner Should Include a Healthy Thanksgiving Nap – and It’s Good for the Voice, Too.

So, how do you make sure you’re getting a vocally healthy Thanksgiving dinner?  Well, believe it or not, that after-dinner nap most of us want after the meal is the first step.

As we all know, getting a good night’s sleep is very important to keeping in good vocal health. Getting at least 7 hours of sleep every night will help preserve the power, clarity, and strength of your voice – not to mention always helping the rest of your body feel good. If your body is tired, weak, sleepy, and achy, your voice isn’t going to be much better. If you’re groggy and sleepy while reading that script, it’s pretty likely you won’t deliver the best performance you can.

A common belief around Thanksgiving dinner is that the tryptophan in turkey makes us sleepy – however, this is only partially true. The combination of all that food, together with an overfull plate, all contribute more to that sense of lethargy than the turkey alone does. By consuming foods with tryptophan along with carbs, we enable our bodies to better absorb that tryptophan, and that’s very relaxing. High-carb foods like all those cobblers, stuffing, and dinner rolls cause a release of insulin, which in turn clears out amino acids which normally would prevent absorption of tryptophan, and the combination of those elements with a healthy serving of turkey leads to the familiar post-Thanksgiving feast naptime that we’re all so familiar with.

No matter what you eat, you should eat at least 3 hours before you go to bed (and don’t eat anything after that). If your body is working on digesting food while you sleep, it can make your sleep restless, or worse, result in an upset tummy or acid reflux – bad news for vocal cords!

The Best Balance of Foods for Thanksgiving Dinner

For best vocal health and a restful night’s sleep, see that you get a good balance of the following food on your Thanksgiving plate:

  • Proteins like turkey, pork, chicken, beef, eggs, and seafood.
  • Soy products including tofu, soymilk, or soybeans
  • Legumes like beans and lentils
  • Whole grains including oats and brown rice
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Fresh fruit
  • Veggies
  • Cocoa – especially hot cocoa. You’re welcome!

Happy Thanksgiving to all the great voice actors and voice over artists out there!