“What do you eat on a normal day!”
Thank you to Samantha for emailing through this fantastic question!
As a professional ballet dancer this is one I (and my colleagues) are asked often. There is a huge stigma around food and the stereotype that ballerinas are on a strict diet. People automatically assume we are on restricted eating plans and are told what to eat, when to eat and how much we are allowed to eat. This is simply just not true. Dancers are elite athletes and need to treat their body as such with the healthiest nutritional choices. Well balanced, nutrient filled eating habits are the way to go! Personally I place no restrictions on myself when it comes to food, however I am sensible with my choices and make it a priority to eat well every day (Just a little note: I have absolutely no time for the word “diet” so you will see in my answer below I have used the word “fuel” and phrases such as “eating plan/habits” throughout)
Food is an incredibly important component of a dancer’s career, as it is with any elite athlete. A way I like to think of it is- Food is FUEL. In order to function at such a high level and perform at their maximum every day (both mentally and physically) it is important for a dancer to listen to what their body needs and adjust their fuel accordingly.
Dancers may have to adjust their individual healthy eating plans/habits depending on the phase of performance they are in.
Different phases may include:
*Performance periods (In season- including pre show, after show, days off during season)
*Injured periods (Rehabilitation periods, rest periods)
*Holidays and time off (extended days/ weeks off a dancer is allocated each year)
Throughout the years I have found what fuels work for me. This has also evolved over time and may change depending on the phase of life and career that I am in. For example, last year when I commenced my university studies (as well as continuing my role as a professional ballet dancer) my mental endurance had to last even longer than a rehearsal day. I was going home each night after a 7-hour day of dancing to do weekly university work and any assignments I had coming up (I know a lot of you will be able to relate to this with your schooling too!) This was a time when I have had to adjust my fuel.
Let me give you a real life DANCE example of when I ran low on fuel. During a Swan Lake season in 2011 I was feeling incredibly tired, which is to be expected during a big season like Swan Lake, but this time it was different- I had absolutely no energy. I was drinking plenty of water and trying to get as much sleep as possible so couldn’t figure out why I was feeling so lethargic. I was voicing my concerns to our company physiotherapist Z who simply had one word for me “Carbs.” As the Swan Lake season had progressed and the show numbers had increased my eating habits had slipped. I couldn’t remember the last time I had a bowl of pasta! My body was craving the fuel source carbohydrates. From that day on I realised the importance of listening to what my body needs.
The best way to do put together an educated well constructed eating plan containing all of the right nutrients and food groups is to sit down with a qualified nutritionist and discuss your needs, your current situation (as listed above) and your individual work load. That way a qualified professional can help guide you towards what YOU should be eating for your needs and particular situation.
We hope this has helped Samantha!
In celebration of our very first question being launched on the blog we would wanted to give you all a very special treat!
Last year, during a season of Sugar Plum fairy, a fellow “Sugar” and gorgeous friend of mine made me a batch of delicious treats as a Chookas present for the season. That special lady is none other than Mia Heathcote and she has been kind enough to share the recipe with all of our amazing Textbooks and Tutus followers!
So keep an eye out for the next post which will contain Mia’s special recipe!
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Just for fun
What did I eat for breakfast today?
2 Multigrain Weetbix with skim milk and half a Banana
My top 5 go to snacks-
* Home-made smoothie (Subscribe to my email list to get the recipe)
* Popcorn (20g bag)
My guilty pleasure-
During performance seasons- Skittles