Anyone who knows me or has ever taken a class with me knows that I love food! A lot of my dance references actually go back to my two favourites; chocolate and wine. But obviously this is not my sole diet…
I do however love good food and am a firm believer in the ‘everything in moderation’ rule. There are many books written about diets for dancers, although I personally hate the word ‘diet’. Who has ever been on a ‘diet’ and enjoyed it? Introducing sensible eating habits are so much better and whether you are planning on loosing weight or simply eating better, you are more likely to succeed if you incorporate small but easy to follow changes.
For many when they first start dancing, their increased body awareness changes the way they look and feel about their body. Some people start loosing a lot of weight, and some of this is of course due to the additional physical activity, which also increases the metabolism (I do love the fact that my body keeps burning the calories long after I have slipped off my dance shoes and sat down on the sofa!). But often they also begin to take better care of their body and treat it better than before. So instead of downing a large sugary drink, they may stick to water and the donut may be replaced with a banana, which by the way is the ultimate superfood for any dancer. It contains lots of dietary fibers, vitamins and potassium, which helps prevent muscle cramps as well as ensuring proper muscle and nerve function.
Generally the same food rules apply whether you’re dancing or not: eat whole grain where possible, lots of lean protein and lots of fruit and vegetables and lots and lots of water. Very importantly, eat when you’re hungry, although you should never attempt to dance intensively on a full stomach! Your body and mind needs fuel so have a healthy snack if you’re in a hurry. A lot of dancers prefer sushi as a quick snack in between dancing, or a handful of almonds are also great as they will fill you up and provide you with the same healthy fats as fish. If you crave something sweet then try a banana or some dark chocolate (yes the 70% stuff is best). Avoid processed foods, which won’t do your body or energy levels any good. But every now and again you should of course allow yourself that cake, marshmallow, a glass of wine or what ever your guilty pleasure is. Personally, I always try to stay clear of to much bread and cake because it makes me feel sluggish. Instead I will reach for dark chocolate or some quality marzipan.
But the bottom line is simple, make a few health changes and stick to them as much as you can. And remember – the more you dance, the more calories you burn, and the better you’ll feel eating your favourite foods afterwards.
Read more about nutrition for dancers in the online Dance Magazine.
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