Hello, my dear dancers!
My name is Maria, I am from Belarus and aside from dancing I was working as a pediatrician for about 3 years.
And now, I am excited to try myself in writing articles on “Healthy tips for dancers”. Today we will start with dancer’s diet.
I am sorry (actually not) but there is no magical dancer’s diet, secret way or a pill to make you healthy, energetic and keep fit at the same time. The secret of dancer’s beauty, is just general healthy way of living. So, my tips will be focused on the maintenance of health and effective capability to perform and do social dancing all night long at events 🙂
It is all about balance, diversity, moderation and positive attitude.
Eat regularly! Eat less, but 5-6 times per day (every 3-4 hours). Try to create your meal routine, eating at the same time every day – your body will get used to it and will thank you for this habit!
• simple (bad ☹ )
Simple carbohydrates are easily and quickly digested for energy by one’s body because of their simple chemical structure. It often leads to faster rising of sugar and insulin secretion from pancreas in your blood – which can have negative health effects. You will feel hunger again very soon after these carbs.
Examples: sweets, pastry, granola; fruits (yes, they contain sugar), preserved juices.
• complex (good*☺ )
Contain long-chain of sugar molecules, take more time for digestion, thus providing longer constant level of energy.
Examples: Oatmeal; brown rice; quinoa, lentils, whole grain spaghetti.
Eat good complex carbs 1-2 hours before dancing, so you can dance without refuel like 3 hours!
Not all Fats are the same – they can be saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fats increase bad cholesterol that may lead to cardiovascular diseases. Mono-/polyunsaturated fats provide us with essential fatty acids – omega-3,6,9 that are very beneficial for your heart, brain, and can help in joint and muscle recovery after exercises.
Everybody needs around 1g of protein per kilo of body weight (or 0.5 g per pound) a day. No matter if you are vegetarian or not, you can find sources of healthy protein. Reduce red meat in your diet, eat more white meat like chicken, salmon, tuna, cod. Another good source of protein are eggs and soy products.
Also if you are vegetarian add some food supplements: Vitamin B12 (trust me, you don’t want megaloblastic anemia after 5 years of being vegan), Vitamin D and Calcium (for your bones), Iron (no anemia, please!)
Drink a lot of water!!! If you think you drink a lot – drink even more. When you think you feel hungry – try to drink water first (maybe you were just thirsty). You need around 30-40 ml water per kilo (or 15-20 ml per pound) of body weight. Coffee and tea are counted as water, actually it dehydrates your body. While dancing you lose a lot of water and electrolytes with a sweat. You can replace them with sport drinks that contain right amounts of needed electrolytes (pay attention on sugars in such a drinks!!!).
Fruits & Vegetables
Eat 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables every day (400g). The USDA defines 5-9 servings per day as: a minimum of 3-5 servings of vegetables (a serving = 1 cup raw or ½ cup cooked) and a minimum of 2-4 servings of fruits (a serving = 1 cup raw o one whole piece).
Our hearts (beautiful, fragile dancer’s hearts) and muscles suffer without potassium. Potassium is particularly important for ability of your skeletal and smooth muscles to contract.
Potassium is also vital for the health of your heart, as a normal heart rhythm arises from optimal muscular functioning.
According to the National Academies’ Food and Nutrition Board, an adequate intake of potassium is 4.7 grams per day.
Dancer’s muscles and bones work very intensively and require Calcium supplements to stay happy. You need 1,000 mg per day. You can make your body happier while eating dark leafy greens, low-fat cheese, broccoli, almonds, sardines, figs. So, even if (for some reasons) you avoid dairy products – you can find other sources of Calcium ☺
Enjoy “Art” of slow eating
It takes approximately 20 minutes from time you start eating for your brain to send out signals of fullness. Leisurely eating allows ample time to trigger the signal from your brain that you are full. And feeling full translates into eating less. So take your time, enjoy your food and life! ☺
Stay healthy and happy!
your Maria Bileychik