Eating Mindset for Dancers

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Eating Mindset for Dancers

When you think about eating as a dancer, what comes to mind?

Is it the thin, modelesque body type portrayed by the bully ballerina in the movies? The one where the dancer looks like they only eat a pea and an ice cube for lunch? Is that the “ideal” body type of a dancer? 

We’re here to defeat the myth and let you know that the answer to that question is a hard “NO.” Sure, those body types are fine and dandy, but should never be the goal or focus. 

The goal should be a body that feels strong. The focus should be on building a body that is strong…no matter what it looks like. And more importantly, while building that “dream-bod,” you’ve got to appreciate the body you have along the way…no matter what shape it’s in. 

So, let’s chat, gals (and guys)! They say, “you are what you eat.” We have all heard that cliche before; but figuratively, it’s true! Depending on how you service your ship, your ship will sail accordingly. Remember when I asked what comes to mind when you think about eating as a dancer? Now, I want you to imagine that dancer as the obvious: yourself. Honestly and objectively try to view what is a realistic, yet ideal version of your highest dancer-self. Don’t just imagine yourself skinny with exposed ribs (unless this is how you’ve always looked, of course). Imagine yourself toned, healthy, strong, and happy. You are what you eat, so we’ve got to eat like we love ourselves and our bodies. Let’s break it down. 

Look. We all know about the dangers of sugars and fats. The temptation to gobble down a bag of potato chips or eat a pan of brownies is not lost on me. Trust me, I get it. However, a simple sugar substitution or moderational amount can go a long way! Craving something sweet? Instead of rushing to a bag of M&Ms, try preparing a batch of sweet mixed fruits instead. My favorite is apple and blueberry, with a little drizzle of honey on top. It’s still sugar and it’s still sweet, sure. But it’s a smarter substitution and that’s what matters! Once you get in the swing of things, you’ll find what best works for you. Instead of loading that salad up with loads of ranch, go for the oil and vinegar…thank me later!

Carbs. Let’s face it. You love them. We love them. They are most likely the bouquet of roses when it comes to food. To be able to easily identify them, you can depend on my basic rule of thumb, white and brown foods or anything high in starch or sugar. This includes bread, rice, cereal, pasta, potatoes and the like. Most foods have carbohydrates, sure. The idea is to focus on foods that are more necessary and serve a higher purpose. Think…instead of having potato chips as your carb-heavy snack, rice would be a healthier substitute. Not only can carbs, like grains, be a healthier alternative due to the ingredients and preparation involved, but they can also be more filling, leading to smaller portions. Having a good balance of carbs with other things, like proteins, can be helpful when trying to tone up or build muscle mass. 

Which brings me to my next point – protein! We all know the value and importance of protein. They feed our muscles and provide energy. Protein can be found in a vast majority of foods, so it’s easy to grab something “on-the-go!” Think: nuts and legumes, meats, fish, eggs, and the like. At dance, a protein snack might look like a handful of almonds with some mini pepperonis…yum! In the mornings, it may be eggs (of any kind) with peanut butter-dipped apples. It’s completely up to you and that keeps it interesting!

Lastly, fruit and veggies…oh my! I feel like we all know that fruits come with natural sugar, so let’s start there. Back when training for Miss America, our trainer told us that it is best to have your fruits in the mornings. You end up working the caloric intake of the sugar off throughout the rest of your day! That is, if you avoided the candy bar at lunch or the ice cream after dinner. Like I said, completely up to you! So, fruit is good for you, but if you are extremely worried about the logistics, have the fruit in the mornings! Vegetables are extremely important. I have always heard, “the greener, the better!” The good news is that this doesn’t have to look like eating raw broccoli stalks. This can be crispy, homemade kale chips, seasoned with olive oil, black pepper and sea salt – absolutely delish! Still not your thing? What about lettuce wraps packed with your favorite protein, tomato, a slice of your favorite cheese and pickle. Mouth. Watering. Fit it with a light mayo and mustard with the kale chips on the side and that’s a lunch for champions. 

See. It’s really not about having a strict regimen or diet. It’s just about having a mindful diet. Let’s be honest, we already know you guys are in top-tier shape due to all the moving and grooving that you do. Pair it with a well-balanced diet and you’re well on track to having your ideal “dancer-bod” in no time!

A quote to keep in mind along the way: “You can still love yourself and be a work in progress.” – Unknown

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