Name: Emmaline Rasmussen
Occupation: Dietitian nutritionist
If you enjoyed this interview with Emmaline Rasmussen and would like to find out more about her work, visit the official Sound Nutrition website.
What do you make of the often heard claim that feeling bad is the best spark for creating and feeling happy the end of inspiration?
I think the idea that artists need to suffer to create is a concept of the past, and a dangerous idea to propagate. While art can certainly be a vehicle to work through various struggles and emotions, suffering often impedes motivation to create and can cloud creative vision.
Artists of all kinds often find that when they are at their healthiest, meditating regularly, sleeping, and staying active their creativity is better focused.
Additionally, staying energized for long hours in the studio and extended tours requires mental and physical health.
Movement (yoga), food and music can be seen as separate physical activities, but they can also be considered as closely related. How do they interlock from your point of view?
Movement and nourishing ourselves with the right foods affect our creativity by energizing us, supporting cognition and enhancing or ability to focus.
The way we treat our bodies on a daily basis affects our unique vibrational energy which will affect a musical performance and the energetic and creative flow an artist brings to the studio or to the fans.
Prior to starting Sound Nutrition, you had already been working as a dietician and Yoga instructor for a long time. Why was it interesting for you to target musicians more specifically?
When I was studying to become a dietitian, my plan was to eventually become a sports nutritionist, though I saw many parallels between athletes and touring artists. I always wondered why dietitians existed in athletics and not entertainment when touring performers are subjected to similar conditions as athletes on the road, and given all we know about the connection between nutrition, performance, and physical and mental health.
While working in healthcare, I always had the idea in the back of my mind that I wanted to find a way to serve the music community, and one day the timing was finally right and I took the leap.
The concept of living healthy and the rock n roll lifestyle have long seemed mutually exclusive. When you started out, would you say that there was still some form of resistance against some suggestions?
Somewhat initially, from the industry at large, but there was a sizeable contingency of artists and industry insiders that believed in the concepts I was offering. Plus, it's a bit of a self-selecting clientele--the artists who only care about "sex, drugs and rock'n'roll" simply are not the ones who are hiring me (usually).
Thankfully, there are plenty of artists and entertainment industry professionals who have been in this world long enough and have seen the light and want to tour in a healthy sustainable manner that will allow them to thrive on tour and enjoy time on the road.
In order to meet the rigorous demands of touring these days, taking steps to support mental and physical health is paramount, and on average it takes less than a decade to realize that healthy touring is the only way to be able to tour in the long run.
It is easy to see why someone like Beyonce or Britney Spears, whose shows involve intense dance routines, should require high performance nutrition. With someone like Phoebe Bridgers, on the other hand, this might seem less obvious …
Going out on the road for months on end, being subject to the sun and elements at outdoor venues, the special effects like pyrotechnics on stage, and being active on stage whether dancing or playing an instrument or jumping around, it is a physical performance, which requires being properly fueled before and recovering from after the show.
Additionally, because people tour for such extended periods, it is essential to eat healthfully because touring isn't just a quick vacation from "real life" where healthy habits can fall by the wayside. Just like anyone who travels for work, if a touring artist or crew member is on the road more than 20% of the year (which most I work with are) then they must treat life on the road like life at home, and find ways to engage in healthy routines that support them.
I stock the bus (or van) with all of the wellness essentials, plan their meals on tour and source healthy food that meets their unique needs, and also support artists and crew through leading yoga and meditation on tour either virtually or in person.
It would seem to me that, for many musicians who spend long nights standing and potentially carrying heavy equipment, posture is an issue.
I teach yoga and yogapilates, which can assist with posture and reduce risk of injury. Musicians and crew, like athletes, are subject to repetitive use injuries from performing the same movements repeatedly night after night.
Therefore, I will often recommend instrument-specific stretches in addition to a more general yoga practice.
Would you say that there there are foods or approaches to nutrition that support creativity?
Absolutely. Following a plant-forward Mediterranean diet can enhance cognitive function, support energy, and reduce risk of chronic disease as well as support mental health.
Being clear headed and focused, energized, and reducing or preventing the burden of mental and physical health impediments all support performance and creativity.
In Ayurvedic terms, music is a food, too. Do you have some thoughts on whether or not specific types of music can be supportive to a healthy lifestyle?
Yes, music has the power to alter our mental state and the way we experience our world and even the way we feel in our own bodies. This does not mean we need to listen to happy or uplifting music at all times, but rather that we may benefit from matching the music and frequencies to the mental or physical state we wish to enter.
For instance, certain sounds and frequencies that we may hear during a guided meditation or sound bath can help alter our mental state and induce theta brain waves, which is deeply relaxing and proven to enhance creativity.
Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you feel as though writing or performing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee or a nutritious meal?
It is different to an extent of course, but as a foodie and true coffee connoisseur I consider a well crafted cup of coffee or creative, fresh and healthy meal to be a work of art in its own right.
Of course, much like performing the same piece over and over, preparing the same meal over and over can become mundane, so, much like an artist may put a fresh spin on each performance, we can constantly flex our creative muscle in the kitchen by experimenting with different seasonal ingredients or preparation methods to keep life interesting and enhance the biodiversity and nutrient diversity of our diets.