Nutrition for Dancers

With the New Year just passing, now is the time for people to be focusing on New Year’s’ Resolutions. A lot of people make their resolutions to start working out more, going on a diet, overall to become healthier. With dancers the common stereotype is that dancers have some form of eating disorder. In fact 83% of dancers met the criteria for having an eating disorder. It is better to be strong and healthy than it is to be skinny. How can we as dancers make sure that we aren’t falling into this stereotype and take care of ourselves?
The first thing you need to be aware of is what exactly eating disorders are and what are their symptoms? Eating Disorders are psychological disorders that are characterized by abnormal eating habits. When people hear the words eating disorders they automatically think anorexia and bulimia; which are when people don’t eat enough. However, eating disorders consist of the other extreme as well, overeating. Anorexia, Bulimia and Binge Eating Disorder are the three most common forms of eating disorders. Some of their symptoms include inadequate food intake, intense fear of gaining weight, overly sensitive about the image of their body.
For us dancers, our bodies are our instruments. Therefore, we need to take good care of ourselves. We need to make sure our bodies are getting enough fuel to keep up with the amount of energy we exert. It is estimated that female dancers need between 45-50 calories per kilogram of body weight. Male dancers need about 50-55. We also need to eat a lot of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the main energy source for muscles. If you feel yourself getting tired during classes that may be because you aren’t taken in enough carbohydrates. Bagels, breads, pastas and rice are all great sources of carbohydrates. Another good way to make sure you are getting the right nutrition is to eat small meals throughout the day. It is better to eat 6 small meals a day, instead of eating 3 big meals a day. This is because you will be getting more energy throughout the day. Always, make sure when you take classes you bring water with you. Every time your instructor gives you a break, make sure you are drinking water. While sweating in class you can lose up to 2 liters of water an hour, which is why it is so important to stay hydrated.
Let’s stick to our New Year’s Resolutions in a healthy way!
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder call toll free, confidential helpline 1-(800)-931-2237; the National Eating Disorder Association.