Eating for Success - Part 1

Many thanks to guest author Ginger Hill for writing this guest post with sound advice for dancers during the busy pre-Christmas rehearsal season. 

As rehearsals for Christmas performances get more lengthy and intense, it may be a good time to consider the wise words of King Solomon from the following proverb:

Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty (Proverbs 21:5 NLT)

No doubt that, as a dancer, you are working hard during rehearsal time. But are you also properly planning ahead for dancing success? One key aspect of good planning is to identify and maximize the use of resources needed to achieve your goal. As a ballet dancer, you body is your most important resource! Are you planning ahead to make sure that you eat an adequate amount of high quality food to fuel your body for success? Or do you tend to take hasty nutritional shortcuts that leave you feeling fatigued and unfocused during rehearsal?

“I ran out of time to make a healthy breakfast, so I’ll just stop by Starbucks instead.”

“I’m kind of hungry and I forgot to pack my snack bag, so I’ll just grab a quick doughnut to hold me through rehearsal.”

If you find yourself saying either of these statements, it may be time to make some changes to your nutritional routine.

In the book, Feeding the Young Athlete, author Cynthia Lair identifies 5 eating habits that undermine performance:

  1. Not drinking water! Water is critical component of most bodily functions. If you are not providing your body with adequate hydration during physical activity, you may have less energy available to support muscle function. About 80% of a person’s daily water needs are met through beverages. Make water your beverage of choice and sip it throughout the day.
  1. Skipping meals! Glycogen is one of the substances that your body depends on to keep it going during exercise. Your body stores a limited amount of glycogen and if you regularly skip meals, you may find yourself lacking the energy to keep going strong through the end of a rehearsal.
  1. Eating on the run! When in a rush, we tend to make food choices based on convenience and eat them rapidly while doing something else at the same time. Most convenience foods do not provide nutritional support for the demands of physical activity. Waiting to eat until you are heading out the door 20 minutes before rehearsal does not provide adequate time for the digestive process to make nutrients available to your body during rehearsal.
  1. Choosing foods that steal energy! Foods that are high in sugar (doughnuts, pastries, candy bars) will provide a quick, but unsustainable burst of energy which may cause you to feel sluggish and irritable towards the end of rehearsal. Foods high in unhealthy fats (cheeseburgers, french fries, pepperoni pizza) are not metabolized quickly enough to give you needed energy.
  1. Depending on supplements! Do you think that a multivitamin or supplement pill can make up for a lack of whole, real foods in your diet? Think again! Real, whole foods contain essential nutrients that are packaged by God in such a way to derive maximum nutritional benefit. In addition, they contain micronutrients that provide additional health benefits.

In next week’s blog we will identify some specific ideas and strategies to maximize nutritional support for your body as you rehearse for Christmas performances. In the meantime, take some time to do an internal check.   Are you drinking water? Are you eating regularly scheduled meals and snacks? Are you eating real, whole foods to get you through the demands of the day? Is your body being supported by a good nutritional plan or by a series of hasty nutritional shortcuts?

About the author:

Ginger Hill is a certified wellness coach and speaker with over 15 years of experience in helping people adopt and maintain healthy lifestyle habits. She is the founder of Christians Living Healthier – a business formed for the purpose of inspiring and assisting Christians to take steps toward healthier living through wellness coaching, education & program design so that the people of God can be good stewards in order to fulfill their calling effectively. For more information, please visit www.christianslivinghealthier.com or visit the CLH Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/christianslivinghealthier .