It’s worth starting off by saying the healthiest way of eating is completely different for each and every one of us. That’s why there should never be food rules and also why you can’t follow your friend’s eating plan and expect the same results.
This post shares good nutrition that should apply to all dancers. The meals will look different for each person, but these principles can stay the same.
Good nutrition for dancers is adequate.
Too often, dancers don’t fuel adequately. You might struggle with having enough time to eat, maybe you’re being intentionally restrictive, and it’s also possible you don’t realize you’re underfueling. Take a good look at your day and be honest with yourself.
Dancers need three meals and two snacks per day — or a series of snacks if you don’t have time for a meal. Each of those nutritional opportunities should include varied food choices, and you should be incorporating protein, carbs, and fat throughout each day.
If you find you’re stuck in a rut of not eating consistently or eating all the same things, consider working with a health coach who can support you in establishing a balanced approach to your food choices.
Good nutrition for dancers supports recovery.
Without providing your body with the micronutrients and macronutrients required for recovery, it will find other ways to support your body’s basic processes. When glucose and fat stores are depleted, your body breaks down muscle into individual amino acids for energy, which makes you a weaker dancer. This is just one example of how your body can take less-than-ideal pathways to maintain balance.
Many dancers are in some pattern of disordered eating (not necessarily a clinical eating disorder) that can look like occasional restriction, occasional overeating, food fears or guilt, or any disruptive or unhelpful patterns or behavior with food. By falling into these habits, you run the risk of undernourishment, which can lead to nutrient deficiencies and hormonal imbalance. These things will impact your body’s ability to recover and therefore perform at its peak.
Supporting recovery isn’t challenging if you’re eating adequate and varied meals and snacks throughout the day.
Good nutrition for dancers is flexible and planned.
Whether you’re traveling for auditions or working through a busy period of rehearsals, you have to stay flexible with your food choices. You also have to plan. This plan doesn’t include obsessive counting or quantifying calories or macros but rather having lots of options available for yourself at any given time.
Even the best planning doesn’t mean you’ll always have enough food packed to satisfy your needs on any given day. You might have to stop by a 7-Eleven or convenience store and grab some trail mix or a granola bar.
There needs to be a willingness to fuel and replenish yourself even when you don’t have access to the most nutrient-dense options. Not every food choice you make has to be nutritionally perfect. In fact, releasing perfectionism around food will only help you be your healthiest.
It’s not just about the food.
Good nutrition for dancers isn’t just about the food. It’s about how you’re relating to your body, food, dance, and life. The Whole Dancer is about the entire picture. It’s about looking at yourself through a holistic lens and considering all the factors that impact your wellness.
In a free workshop coming up next month, you’ll learn how to create your 2023 dancer fuel plan through a holistic lens. You’ll see how you can find confidence and ease in your dancer fuel plan. So, it’s not just about food. I’ll show you how to support yourself in all areas of your life so you can show up and dance more confidently and with more freedom in the studio.