Welcome to another Music Monday! Every installment, I’ll be bringing you a different artist talking about how they stay healthy on the road. This series is part of a larger project I am working on in conjunction with the nonprofit, WhyHunger, which works to fight hunger and poverty by connecting people to nutritious, affordable food and by supporting grassroots solutions that inspire self-reliance and community empowerment. If you have the time, take a look at their site, and please feel free to share this with your social networks, especially with your music-loving friends!

Country pop singer Risa Binder has learned a few tricks along the way to help her stay healthy and energized for performances.

risa7 photo gal  photo 1149095588 300x156 - Music Monday with Risa BinderShe says, “You have to be really particular. When I’m home, I’m meticulous. It’s a bit more out of my control on the road.”

When possible, she sticks to places she knows offer healthy options. “My guitar player jokingly calls our tour the ‘Panera Tour’ because we go there a lot.  I love Panera, though, because it’s a place where you can get salads and protein. “

Hotels can be challenging, especially when it comes to navigating the continental breakfast that’s often included, but she relies on go-to foods like oatmeal and a hard-boiled eggs to get her day started off well. “The kid in me wants to make that waffle,” she adds, “but I never do.“

“We don’t go to fast food restaurants,” says Binder, “but rest stops are challenging. Some of my band mates may grab burger or whatever, but there’s always a side store that has sunflower seeds or trail mix.” She’s learned to look at what’s available and figure out a way to put it together. “As much as I love hashbrowns,” she says, “with the career I chose, a side salad is going to take the place of that.”

However, the hardest places to find healthy foods, Binder says, are the airport and gas stations. “If we’re stopping to get a quick snack, what I really want is a Snickers ice cream bar,” but she’s found that things like KIND bars and prepackaged olives in olive oil help satisfy cravings for sweet and salty foods.

“I’m a sweets girl,” she divulges, “and I love to reward myself, especially after a show or interview I was scared or nervous about. Lucky for me, mini desserts are a trend right now, so [afterwards] I’ll find one of those. It tells my brain, ‘Okay! I had my little reward!’ Other people want to end the night with a drink, I like to end the night with a hot fudge brownie sundae. It’s a portion control thing, but that’s my little indulgence, what I crave. “

She also brings mini cupcakes (Baked by Melissa is a favorite brand) to every show.  “It’s a great way to meet fans!” Binder says. “My two favorite things to do are write music and eat dessert,” so it’s a great combination.

risa7 photo gal  photo 14922985 md 300x287 - Music Monday with Risa BinderWhen she’s staying in one place for a few days or hunkering down to record, she loves stocking up on healthy items at Trader Joe’s. “Their orange flavored bubble water tastes just like soda to me.” She adds, “A good way to save money is to get a readymade something and heat it up in the microwave. Trader Joe’s is also great with the healthier snacks—I love the Snap Pea Crisps.”

“I don’t [go to the gym] on the road—I’m trying to find that balance. That’s why eating well is so important. If you set yourself up for the day with healthy snacks you’re good.”

“When you’re traveling with boys—which I always do—you just have to learn to find something wherever you are. For example, if we go to Waffle House, I’ll look at the menu and find something I can do. They have eggs, they have tomatoes…I also do eggs and avocadoes. I don’t think there’s ever been a time where I’ve said, ‘No, we can’t eat here.’”

“It’s always changing, always evolving,” she says. “The more I’m on the road, I do want to enjoy things. If I’m too strict, I miss out. We’re a pop country band, so we do a lot of shows in places that have amazing food—my band calls that part ‘brisket tours.’ For me, it comes down to portion control.”

“In the end,” Binder says, “pictures don’t lie. “I can look at myself and be, like, ‘Okay. Here’s the challenge for the next few months.’ At the same time, it’s important to be nice to yourself. It’s an experiment and it’s so personal—everyone has different ideas and goals.”

She adds, “It really is about the journey, and while I can be hard on myself, you have to give yourself a break once in a while. It’s individual and it’s fun.”

Added bonus: Click to download Risa’s new single, “Gotta Have You.” 

If you or anyone you know would like to be featured on Music Monday, get at me! KeepingItRealFood(at)gmail(dot)com