Some degree of nerves in anticipation of being on camera is natural and in most cases, is unavoidable.
But certain foods will make your performance butterflies worse, increasing your anxiety and potentially harming your physical health.
With that said, here are 6 foods to avoid before filming day and some healthier alternatives.
Popular culture says that increasing your dairy consumption before giving a presentation increases the mucus levels in your throat, making it harder to speak. Many independent studies have shown, however, that this is not the case.
But are dairy products still worth avoiding?
It depends. Many people are lactose intolerant, but continue to consume dairy products and tolerate the upset stomachs and frequent trips to the bathroom.
For those that are not lactose intolerant, dairy scores highly for saturated fat and, in some yoghurts and flavoured milk, for sugar also.
Unless it’s a splash of milk in your coffee, it might be best to avoid dairy on filming day altogether.
Healthy alternative: almond and coconut based dairy products.
Heavy, high-fat foods
When we are stressed about an upcoming presentation, we often turn to our comfort foods to get us through.
But these foods are commonly quite heavy or fatty. That’s why they’re comfort foods! They are so satisfying to eat, even if the satisfaction quickly turns into a vocal, churning stomach.
These meals should be avoided at night in particular, since they take a long time to digest.
We will frequently be digesting well into the evening, hampering our ability to relax and prepare for sleep.
If we know we are filming the next day, the last thing we want to be is sleep deprived.
Sleep deprivation leads to reduced memory capacity and ability to focus, which will only increase performance anxiety.
Healthy alternative: an early dinner of lean proteins and a light, fresh salad.
Alcohol is the default drink of choice for many, particularly when we are feeling anxious or nervous about an upcoming event.
The negative effects of alcohol are well known and equally well studied.
Above all, alcohol is a depressant. It reduces serotonin, the feel good chemical, and so contributes to depression and anxiety.
Indeed, alcohol and anxiety fuel each other in a vicious cycle.
People drink because they are anxious, but drinking itself also causes anxiety which in turn, causes an urge to drink.
Resist the temptation to self-medicate with alcohol believing it will loosen you up for the camera.
It won’t, and you may find that your performance is negatively affected.
You also run the risk of becoming dependent on alcohol to appear on camera.
Healthy alternative: go alcohol free for day before (and day of) filming.
Beans, lentils and some vegetables
Those with sensitive stomachs would do well to avoid beans, lentils and vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, onion and cabbage.
While eating your vegetables is never a bad idea, some members of the family tend to be most associated with bloating and intestinal gas.
As a result, they should definitely be avoided. If you absolutely cannot resist that piece of broccoli, you run the risk of unscheduled bathroom breaks and the discomfort of a bloated stomach.
Healthy alternative: most other vegetables are fine, particularly those containing complex carbohydrates.
Fermented, cultured or aged foods
You might believe that a gourmet dinner of steak, cheese and wine the night before filming is a good way to relax and prepare yourself for the next day.
But the proteins found in these types of foods are broken down into histamine, which has been proven to aggravate digestion and the cardiovascular and nervous systems.
In particularly susceptible individuals, they can cause anxiety and insomnia. Wine is also not the best idea, for reasons already mentioned.
Healthy alternative: fresh foods that are as unprocessed as possible.
Stimulants cover a wide range of food and drink that we consume on a daily basis.
Typically they include coffee, energy drinks, soft drinks and also carbohydrate rich foods such as bread, pasta and rice.
The problems with stimulants are two-fold. First, the high is short-lived. You’re often tired and ready for a nap soon after consumption.
White, carbohydrate rich foods have the same effect – carbohydrate is just another term for sugar. What’s more, these foods offer little nutritional value.
The caffeine in coffee and energy drinks is also a diuretic. Even one cup of coffee combined with pre-filming anxiety may result in unplanned toilet stops, so be careful.
Healthy alternative: water, wholegrain bread or pasta, green tea (preferably decaffeinated) or chamomile tea.
The next time you are preparing for a filming day, make a conscious choice to avoid these six foods and choose the healthy option instead.
Your body will thank you for it, and you’ll have a much better chance of a fabulous performance in front of the camera.
If you want to learn how you can be more confident filming day.