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Food takes a pretty central role in the holiday season. If you’re struggling with body acceptance or feeling stressed in your relationship to food, holiday food encounters can be really overwhelming.

Auditions are right around the corner. You might have some time off after Nutcracker. And, there’s even the issue of not spending as much time in the studio since you’re spending more time on stage. All of these things can make you question or fixate on your eating around the holidays.

Thinking and planning ahead can allow you to go to parties or enjoy dressing room treats without guilt. 

Here are 7 tips to approach holiday eating from a place of balance and happiness.

balanced holiday eating for dancers

Tip #1: Remember what the holidays are really about.

Holidays are a time to be with your family and friends. A time to reflect with gratitude for all of the abundance in your life. And holidays are an opportunity to take inventory of your life and see both areas of beauty and those of opportunity.

If you’re struggling with negative body image, find time to remind yourself of all the physical attributes you have to be grateful for: a body that is fully functioning and can dance! That shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Tip #2: Eat breakfast.

Eat breakfast. Preferably, have a meal with protein, carbs, and healthy fats. If possible, include some greens as well. You might make a meal of eggs or scrambled tofu, toast, potatoes, sauteed greens, or avocado to achieve adequate nourishment and satisfaction. Depending on when your family enjoys the big holiday meal, you might also have time for a balanced lunch before the main event.

The goal is to make sure you’re prioritizing balanced eating at all meals. Eating consistently and striving towards balanced will make all your eating experiences more enjoyable!

Tip #3: When it comes to holiday treats, assess the food choices available to you.

Some holiday dishes can be quite nutrient dense (think sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, roasted veggies, etc.); others are going to be more indulgent. If you want to contribute a nourishing side dish, most hosts will be open to that. I always bring a hearty kale salad, and that provides the foundation of my meal.

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Tip #4: Drink water!

 Stay hydrated throughout the day. Drink lots of water. If you’re chilly, drink tea or warm water with lemon. Both lemon water, peppermint tea, and ginger tea help to aid and soothe digestion, so they’re particularly good choices on a food-centered holiday.

Tip #5: Consider your mindset about the food.

Don’t make holidays a reason to eat to the point of discomfort. People often tell themselves, “This is the only day ALL YEAR that I’m eating this food.” This idea naturally leads to overeating to an uncomfortable degree.

It’s also important to note that this is a totally false notion. Sure, maybe this is the only day Aunt Edna makes her famous pie, but you could definitely get the recipe and make it any time of year.

Tip #6: Make your food goal to eat to a point of comfortable satisfaction. 

Now, don’t forget about dessert! Of course, especially when it’s an occasion and, even more importantly, if there’s a dessert you particularly enjoy, then you should absolutely have some. Be present with your food. Savor the flavors. Just like with your main meal, stop eating when you’re at the point of comfortable satisfaction.

If you do go overboard, forgive yourself! Your food choices will not be perfect all the time, and that is totally OK. Do your best to let it go and move on.

I know this is sometimes much easier said than done, so if you’re struggling with your holiday eating strategy or need some support in the aftermath, set up a complimentary coaching call. I’m always happy to offer support.

Tip #7: No crash diets afterwards!

It’s possible you’ll read all these tips and still have a challenging time putting them into practice. Depending where you are on your journey towards balance, that’s totally understandable!

If you end up feeling like you’ve been “bad” or gone overboard with the food or indulgences, go easy on yourself. Support yourself with healthy, balanced, hearty meals. If you respond by undereating, you’ll likely get into a yo-yo pattern.If you look ahead to 2023 and have big goals for your body and dancing, check out Elite Best Body Coaching. This program is about unpacking your relationship with food and your body so you can reach and sustain your body goals. Check out some success stories here!

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7 Tips: Balanced Holiday Eating for Dancers

7 Tips: Balanced Holiday Eating for Dancers

Jess Spinner

Jess is a former professional ballet dancer turned Holistic Health, Nutrition, and Lifestyle Coach for high level dancers. She founded The Whole Dancer in 2015 after identifying a greater need for balance, wellness and support in the dance world. Since The Whole Dancer was founded, Jess has worked with 100's of dancers worldwide at top companies and schools. She has been featured in or written for Dance Magazine, Dance Teacher Magazine, Pointe Magazine, and Dance Spirit Magazine.

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