Many thanks to guest author Ginger Hill for writing this guest post with sound advice for dancers during the busy pre-Christmas rehearsal season.
In last week’s blog, we were reminded of the importance of good nutritional planning as a key to ballet success. In his God-given wisdom, King Solomon reminds us that, “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity,but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.” (Proverbs 21:5 NLT) We know that taking hasty nutritional shortcuts will not provide the stamina necessary to successfully make it though demanding rehearsals. But how to you come up with a good nutrition plan as a ballet dancer? Today we will explore some specific strategies, suggestions and ideas that will help us to put King Solomon’s good advice to good use!
First and foremost, it is necessary to establish a solid nutritional foundation before the specifics of ballet-related support can be addressed. That means at least 3 healthy meals a day! While there are many meal plans available that will tell people exactly what to eat, I find that a meal formula is much more helpful. By following meal formulas, people can choose healthy foods in line with their preferences, food availability and budget.
A healthy meal starts with: 1 source of whole grain + 1 source of protein +1 source of unsweetened fruit and/or non-fried vegetable. You can add to this formula by including a source of dairy and additional servings of fruits or vegetables. But, given the current state of the American diet, if every meal follows at least this basic formula, you are off to a reasonably good start. Keep in mind that healthy snacks will also provide additional nutrition for the day. At each meal, it is a good idea to check to make sure you have each part of the basic formula.
Once a three healthy meals a day routine is established, you can focus on the specific needs of fueling the body to meet rehearsal demands. In the book, Feeding the Young Athlete, author Cynthia Lair provides a helpful eating time table that can be adapted to the rigors of the world of dance.*
2-3 hours before rehearsal/performance
Eat a healthy, satisfying meal following, at the very least, the meal formula mentioned above. Don’t stuff yourself. Drink water.
1-2 hours before rehearsal/performance
Eat a light snack consisting of a healthy source of carbohydrates such as fresh fruit/veggies or whole grain crackers. Drink water.
Breaks during rehearsals/performances
Drink water and, if needed, eat a small snack such as fresh fruit.
Within 1 hour of end of rehearsal/performance
Eat your next healthy meal. Or eat a small snack consisting of a healthy source of carbohydrates and protein such as a fruit and nut mix or nutrition bars** Drink water.
*Keep in mind that every dancer’s nutritional needs are different and can vary from day to day. Please use this time table as a general guideline and do some experimentation to see what kind of eating schedule works best for you.
**Nutrition bars can be an easy healthy snack food, but be careful to read labels and look for bars that have a short list of ingredients. It is recommended that bars used to fuel physical activity should contain no more than 15g of protein and 20 or more grams of carbohydrates, but no more than 18g of sugar. One good option is the Larabar brand because it can fit into so many dietary lifestyles, including gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan. Larabars can be a bit pricey, but they can be made at home. Go to http://www.budget101.com/content.php/4047 to find out more about how to make these bars inexpensively. For a nut-free homemade version, go to: http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2012/07/01/recipe-homemade-larabars-4-ways-including-nut-free/
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 .