Tag Archives: dance

Being Healthy Vs. Fat Shaming

1 May

Hey there! So this is a slightly unusual post but I read the most fantastic post earlier and I can’t not say anything about it. The post “Bikini Body” on Whiny Baby was featured on the freshly pressed page today, and I am SO glad it was. If you haven’t read it, please go read it. The author talks about fat shaming in society, but more importantly, why what you eat should not be in charge of you. It is such a great read, and she manages to put to words an idea and philosophy I’ve had for a while, but have been unable to describe. 

Read it? Good. I wanted to reply to this because I claim to advocate “healthy eating” on this blog (which I don’t actually do that much of, I know, but just go with me here), and I want to make sure nobody has any misconceptions about what I mean by healthy. I’m a not so secret pinterest lover, and when I’m busy not writing history papers, I’m off browsing some category of pinterest. I have a few I frequents (cute baby animals anyone?), and I have a few I try to avoid. One of the latter is the Health & Fitness section. I know that a majority of pinners on pinterest only have good intentions, and pin all this stuff as a motivation to get in shape and stuff, but they have completely got the idea of being healthy wrong and have instead turned to fat shaming.

So let me be clear. Being healthy DOES NOT equal having no fat. You DO NOT need this body to be healthy: 

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Have you ever seen ANYBODY do this? High heels, really?

 

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Who actually looks like this?

I’m sure those girls are healthy and fit and incredibly in shape (presuming they aren’t photoshopped- which is a VERY large presumption to make) and I have no problem with that. I have a problem with the culture that tells us that we’ll only be healthy (or attractive, but I’m not going down that rabbit hole right now) when we look like that. Um- no. I don’t look like that…at all, and I lead a healthy lifestyle. For me, healthy isn’t having no tummy and no waist. Healthy to me means trying to balance out the absurd amount of bread and nutella I eat with the dancing I do. Honestly, I convinced myself to practice for 3 hours once solely based on the fact that I finished an entire tub of nutella by myself the week before. I don’t claim to only eat grains and greens. I don’t claim to be a health expert. But I DO know that I am a healthy individual, love handles and all, and I am so ok with that.

The second that I realized this and become ok with myself, I LOVED myself. I gained self confidence in my appearance, in my dancing, and other aspects of my life. I’m a little of topic, but you know, love a bit of a ramble. So I’ll try wind up here. LOVE YOURSELF. ENJOY COOKIES. And never, ever, EVER hate yourself, or let someone make you feel ashamed for what you eat, or how you look. 

Now I want brownies. And I’ve discovered I’ve run out of everything chocolate in my apartment (read: nutella). TRAGEDY. Ok I’m done.

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Pizza Pasta

28 Feb

So first off, apologies for the lack of posts recently. I’ve been out of town and spending exorbitant amounts of money on food. Second off, one of my followers has pointed out that I never post about anything green. This is very true, but I have a plan. Tomorrow is March 1st and I’m a very, very, very big fan of St. Patrick’s Day (I’m an Irish dancer, it’s a little non-negotiable), so in honor of this wonderful holiday, I am going to attempt to make as much green food during March as I can. Delicious recipes with green twists. If you have any recommendations, please let me know! I’d love to get some suggestions as I’ll have to get pretty creative.

Ok. Pizza pasta. This is probably not what you think it is. Unless you think it’s pasta with tomato sauce and cheese cooked on top- in which case it’s exactly what you think it is. It’s really very easy to make and prepare and it’s all the deliciousness of pizza but with the goodness of pasta. You can’t lose. My friend made this for me tonight and we wolfed a big bowl down so quickly you’d have thought we’d been starved for days.

Ingredients:

Pasta

Cheese

Tomato Sauce

1 onion

* I left off the quantities because we didn’t really measure anything out, I’ll explain in the instructions how to measure out what you’ll need but it’s kinda up to you

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.

2. Boil however much pasta you want and let simmer on low heat until your onion and cheese is prepared

3. While the pasta is boiling chop up the onion into little slices and and grate the cheese.

Pro tip 1: The amount of cheese always looks like WAY too much, but it’s almost never enough, so be generous. We grated a heaped plate of cheese and it just about enough for one dish of this (served 3 people generously).

4. Drain the pasta once everything is ready and pour into your oven-proof dish.

5. Sprinkle in the onions and mix up with the pasta.

6. Pour your sauce on top of the pasta, using just enough to pretty much cover the pasta

7. Add your cheese across the top, covering well.

8. Pop in the oven for 5 minutes or just long enough for the cheese to melt.

And that’s it. Take it out, serve it while it’s hot because it cools quickly. We sprinkled garlic powder over it for added heaven.

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Pre-Stamina Day Carbo-Loading

5 Feb

Today, I may well go through hell on earth. As I’ve mentioned- I have 90 minutes of dance, break, then 2 and half hours more of dance. Add in the fact that I have a 3 mile walk in between and no ride next week, and that sounds bad enough. But oh, it gets worse. Several of us are competing in a little over a month, so our teacher has decided to work on our stamina until then. Our other teacher (the stricter and “I don’t care if you’re so exhausted that you’re about to pass out keep doing it perfectly” teacher) is coming back and our current teacher has warned us that tuesday will be a stamina day. If my powers of prediction are correct, I’m gonna go ahead and guess that every class in february will be stamina day. Shoot me.

The point of saying all of this is to a) warn you this may be my last post as I anticipate not being alive tomorrow and b) the more pertinent option, explain to you why I carbo loaded this weekend

In order to get through stamina day, I’m going to need all the energy I can get. To read more about how your body reaps energy from carbohydrates, click here! (I LOVE biochemistry and I had way too much on the subject to put it in this post). But my point is, carbohydrates (and lots of them) are not only great but necessary before a show or competition, or even a long rehearsal.

I was going to write out an eating game centered around a TV show (read: Doctor Who) – a manifestation of a drinking game but the goal being carbo-loading instead of getting wasted. Not as fun, but a more productive use of the hours I’m spending watching Doctor Who. The only problem is I got to the end of season 2 (of the newer series that began in 2005), where SPOILER ALERT Rose and the Doctor say goodbye and confess their love (or almost) and whatnot and I literally started bawling. I can’t even. I love Rose Tyler more than words can describe. I thought losing Christopher Eccleston was bad, but losing Billie Piper, and tearing apart Rose and the Doctor- man that broke me. I am actually so glad my flatmate went out tonight because she’d think I’m mental. All hysterical over a TV program. Either way, any plans of doing anything productive while watching that show have been derailed as I try and come to terms with the end of the era of Rose. Plus, right now the game would look something like “Eat a sandwich every time you cry”… and I would run out of bread.

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For the full heart breaking effect, click on it!

So- new plan! I’m going to present some of the best foods to eat while carbo-loading. But be warned- consumption of all of these in a short amount of time (what I’m doing) should only be done in the face of serious energy expenditure. Not your average workout. Just remember, if you’re eating it, you have to do enough exercise to work it off. (And likewise, you need to eat enough to fuel your work out, so plan accordingly).

1. Rice! Rice is great. It should be a staple in EVERYONE’S diet. I mean honestly what’s not to like. It has 45 g of carbohydrates per serving- 0 of which are from sugar, 205 calories- 4 of which are from fat, 0 g of fat- saturated and trans. Best part- it’s composition is 90% carbohydrate. Take a look at this make up:

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I mean it just doesn’t get better than that. All of the data I gave above was for 1 serving, but if you know me and my inability  to determine serving size, I ended up eating about 3-4 servings of rice over the weekend. Still not as much rice as I ate when I went to China for 3 weeks in the summer- literally it was all I ate when we went out to eat. Me being the fussy eater I am barely ate anything of the main meals (I’m sorry but I REFUSE to eat crunchy chicken, when by crunchy they mean talons and heads), so my god, when that rice dish came out at the end, I enjoyed it.

2. Pasta. Pasta has the ability to get quite fatty quite quickly if you’re generous with the butter or sauce, but if you are a person with refined tastes such as myself (and by refined I mine childish), then pasta is perfect just plain (hello alliteration!) When served plain, 1 serving provides almost 200 calories, and 39 g of carbohydrates, none of which come from sugars. The make up is pretty much the same as rice with a tad bit more fat and a tad less protein. Either way- GOOD STUFF. I’d be lying if lunch and dinner on two separate days this weekend weren’t simply big bowls of plain pasta.

3. Kellogg’s Rice Krispies. I’m a cereal gal. I could eat all day, every day. Every meal, every snack, give me cereal I’d be happy. With milk, without milk. Don’t care. I will ALWAYS welcome cereal.  Back when I was in a dorm and had a meal plan, if I didn’t feel like walking (all of 3 minutes) to the dining hall, it would be cereal for dinner. And if I didn’t have milk, it was generally cereal out of the box for dinner, because going to get milk was almost as much hassle as getting “real” food from the dining hall. ( Yeah, I know, I’m a lazy bum, I got that) Anyways I think you get my point. I never really considered it particularly nutritious, but believe it or not, rice krispies are full of carbohydrates. They boast a 91:2:7 carb:protein:fat percentage ratio, with each serving providing 128 calories, 28g of carbohydrates (3g from sugar), and almost 300mg of sodium. I specify sodium, because I don’t get close to enough sodium in my diet. I’m not a huge meat eater a lot of the time, and I only really use salt with fries (which I avoid), so I don’t come close to the recommended 2500 mg a day. I’d barely get that in a week!

4. Potatoes. Oh man, talk about superfoods. Potatoes are fantastic! Just fantastic. If you’ve noticed, they’re in most of my recipes for a reason. They’re a staple of my diet (and now it’s not hard to figure out where I’m from, I bet), and for good reason. They 93% carbohydrates with very low fat content. 1 serving provides about 260 calories, 60 g of carbohydrate, and a whopping 72 mg of sodium. Warning: this is quite a high sodium content, which can be dangerous who are getting sufficient amounts of sodium elsewhere in their diet. If you have significant sources of sodium elsewhere, just beware that potatoes are a big source. If you’re like me and not getting enough sodium, potatoes are just fantastic.

5. Grapes! These fruits are made up of almost entirely carbohydrates. Now- the downside to them is  that most of their carbohydrates come from sugar (they’re simple carbs) but they are a great source of vitamin C, and if you’re not eating any other sweets regularly, then you don’t really have anything to worry about.

Ok those are my top 5. I’m not a particularly sophisticated eater so these are kind of the basics, and the most you’ll see in my apartment. I don’t have a wide variety, but I eat a hell of a lot of what I have 🙂

Satisfying Stir Fry

30 Jan

I may be mixing up my posts the next few days and not posting regular recipes this week- I’ve been quite sick recently and am struggling to eat much let alone cook.  I will make an effort to post consistently, but you can look forward to some variety! 

In line with my dance nutrition tuesdays- today I give you beef stir fry!

Ingredients:

1/2 cup of rice- I cooked about a cup of rice for myself and it was just a ridiculous amount of rice. It always seems like less before its cooked. 1/2 cup should be more than enough for 1 person.

1 beef steak finely chopped

1/2 large head of broccoli 

1 clove of garlic finely chopped/crushed

1 glug of oil

*1 spring onion finely chopped 

*1 dash of soy sauce

*- indicates an ingredient I didn’t use but feel would benefit the recipe if you like these things

Instructions:

1. Bring water to a boil on high heat- add rice and lower heat, let it sit simmering for 15-20 minutes

2. Boil your broccoli in a separate pan for a few minutes

3. In a pan/wok, add a small glug of oil and toss in your chopped beef, garlic, boiled broccoli and any other veg/onions you may want. Cook for for 5-7 minutes until beef is well browned

Pro tip 1: Don’t cook the beef for much longer than this. Once it is nice and brown, take it off the heat, bearing in mind the wok will continue to cook it even though it is off the stove. I cooked my beef for way too long and it was so dry. Not overcooking should help it maintain its moisture. 

4. If you want to add soy sauce, add this now to coat your beef and veg. If not, add beef and veggies to rice and enjoy!

Nutrition info:

Rice– full of carbs, just what you need the day before a big performance or an hour or two before a long class. Good: Very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Manganese.

Beef- protein protein protein! Good: Low in Sodium. It is also a good source of Vitamin B6, Phosphorus, Zinc and Selenium, and a very good source of Protein and Vitamin B12. Bad: High in cholesterol.

Broccoli- ever wonder why your parents told you to eat your veggies? Here’s why. The good: It’s low in Saturated Fat, and very low in Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Protein, Thiamin, Pantothenic Acid, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Vitamin K, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Potassium and Manganese.

Garlic- Bet you didn’t know this about garlic- it’s 85% carbs, plus, the good: it’s very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Calcium, Phosphorus and Selenium, and a very good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin B6 and Manganese.

Well, that’s all I have for today! Now off to sleep off some of this nasty sickness. (After the Flyers v. Rangers game, of course. Priorities, people!)

And Our Tuesday Special is Dance, With a Side of Walking

23 Jan

I realize I haven’t said much about myself, and to a certain degree I’d like to maintain a level of anonymity . That being said, I am going to share a little bit about myself.

I’m a full time university student studying sports science, hopefully going on to physiotherapy. When I’m not studying, I’m dancing- specifically Irish dance. I hope to be able to incorporate these both in my life by working with dancers as a PT and also teaching dance.

Unrelated to those, I am a huge ice hockey fan, and have recently discovered a love for yoga.

My point of telling you this, is to introduce my Tuesday specials. As you may have noticed by my rather lengthy post on dance nutrition yesterday, I want to dedicate tuesdays to dancers. I have seen first hand the pressure to have the “perfect” body, and the eating disorders this can create. In reality, there is no such thing, and unbeknownst to them, dancers starving themselves to be better are preventing their bodies from reaching optimum performance. This is why every tuesday I will present a recipe for a meal that satisfies the need of a dancer undergoing hours of class or rehearsal. I chose tuesdays because I have 3 hours of dance and I typically walk 9-10 miles between classes, home, and dance. With that amount of energy expenditure, I’m sure as hell looking for a meal that will keep me going.

On that note, I bring you a personal favorite… bangers and mash with a side of baked beans.

Ingredients

3 potatoes* (washed, peeled, and quartered)

2 pork sausages**

1 can of baked beans

2 spoons of butter

1 spoon of mayo

1 shot glass of milk

* The recipe I used called for 3 potatoes but I found this to just be way too much. I’d say go for 1, maybe 2.

** 2 sausages is just what I was feeling last night. Cook however many your heart desires!

Instructions:

1. Boil chopped potatoes for around 15 minutes or until they are soft enough the a knife inserts easily.

Pro tip 1: This actually took me the longest, my sausages and beans were ready before the potatoes ever boiled. You know your stove, but my advice is to start this well in advance and don’t start the sausages and beans until the potatoes have boiled and you drain them.

2. Pour a glug of oil onto a frying pan and add your sausages. Cook them until they are brown all around and the insides are white. These will need constant attention to keep them moving to make sure all sides get cooked evenly, so just be aware of that before you put them on.

3. Once the sausages are done, take them off the pan, give it a rinse and add your baked beans. WARNING: since the pan is already hot these will not take long at all. Pour them in, give them a little stir, and take them off again. Be careful not to burn them. Or you know, microwave them. That works too.

4. Once the potatoes are boiled, drain out the water, add your butter, mayo, and milk and mash potatoes, mixing them all up well. Add butter taking into account the flavor you want.

5. Serve! It’s that easy!

This recipe really is a gem. It’s so easy and so great for a high energy expenditure day because it’s about 700 calories, and high in carbs. This is probably making you cringe, but if you refer to my guide on dance nutrition, you’ll see this is actually ideal.

Mashed potatoes: The good: Low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin B6 and Potassium.
The bad: This food is high in Sodium, so go easy on the salt seasoning!

Pork sausages: The good: This food is a good source of Protein.
The bad: This food is high in Saturated Fat. This food also contains Trans Fat. ( Just remember, we DO need some fat in our diet, so having one food item a little high in fat content is fine, as long as saturated fats do not exceed 10%)

Baked beans: The good: This food is very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a very good source of Dietary Fiber.

For more nutritional information see http://nutritiondata.self.com/

I hope this was helpful, and that at least one dancer out there realizes the importance of proper nutrition and eating enough to fuel our high energy sport!

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Just to give you an idea of how much mash was too much. Also full disclosure I left out the milk on accident, so if it looks a little crumbly… that’s why. Include the milk and you’ll have nice creamy mash.

Nutrition for Dancers

23 Jan

This is a little out of line with the general theme of this blog, but I strongly believe there are not enough resources out there to provide dancers with accurate information about nutritional goals and guidelines tailored specifically for someone with a lifestyle as demanding as that of a dancer.

It is well known that dancers, gymnasts, figure skaters (female athletes in aesthetically plus physically demanding sports) are at high risk for eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, body dysmorphism etc. Dancers are conditioned to aspire to a perfect body, that they believe will help them perform optimally and achieve perfection. This is however a very false, and unhealthy myth.

Many dancers, in an effort to achieve this unhealthily slim figure, are consuming less than 70% to 80% of recommended dietary allowance for total energy, and often weigh 10-12% below ideal body weight. This doesn’t seem so bad, until you consider the risks associated with low body weight.

When a female is consistently below an appropriate body weight for her height and build, she puts herself at risk for the female athletic triad. What is the female athletic triad, you ask?

Female triad:

  • Amenorrhea: the absence of  a period in a woman who is of reproductive age 
  • Anorexia: an eating disorder involving distorted body image, irrational fear of weight gain and intentional starvation leading to drastic weight loss and often other health complications
  • Osteoporosis: decreasing of bone density and deterioration of bone tissue, leading to increased bone fragility and risk of fractures

The scary part of all of this, is that the negative consequences resulting from the female triad have yet to be shown to be reversible by pharmacological means. In plain English- drugs can’t revert the health complications resulting from the female triad. You’re facing lifelong complications or chronic illnesses that could end your career as a dancer

The International Association for Dance Medicine and Science has published a fantastic fact sheet on dancer nutrition, that I am going to reproduce here with my own comments. Credit goes to them for anything in quotations, link can be found here. I have italicized the take home points.

“To perform at their best, dancers need to be well fueled for classes, rehearsals, and performances.

The main challenge facing many dancers is ingesting sufficient quantities of food to meet the energy demands of dance. The first step in planning a high performance diet is to be sure that the dancer is obtaining adequate caloric intake. The easiest rough estimate of how many calories a dancer requires during heavy training is 45-50 calories per kilogram of body weight for females and 50-55 calories per kilogram of body weight for males.” To put this into perspective, a girl weighing around 120 lbs should be eating around 2700 calories a day.

“A low caloric intake will not only compromise energy availability, it can also lead to an under-ingestion of many micronutrients that could affect performance, growth and health. After calculating the number of calories needed, the next step is to estimate the necessary amount of carbohydrate, fat, and protein, the building blocks of the diets.”

“Carbohydrate
A dancer’s diet should be composed of about 55-60% carbohydrate, 12-15% protein, and 20-30% fat. During heavy training and rehearsals the amount of carbohydrate should be increased to about 65%. The reason is that carbohydrate is the major energy source in muscles. Ingested carbohydrate is broken down into simple sugars (glucose) in the digestive tract then stored in muscle in the form of glycogen, the primary fuel for energy production. Dancers who do not ingest sufficient carbohydrate in their diet will compromise their ability to train because of low muscle glycogen levels. They may feel more fatigued during classes and rehearsals.”

I want to go ahead and dispel any “oh I don’t eat carbs I’m a dancer I have to be skinny” nonsense right now. Stop. You’re doing yourself a disservice. Carbs are HUGELY important in a dancer’s diet. If you don’t eat carbs, you won’t have any energy. Dancing without carbs is like trying to drive with no fuel. It just doesn’t work!

To achieve a high carbohydrate diet, food choices should be complex carbohydrate (bagels, cereal, bread, english muffins, pasta, rice) rather than simple sugars, because complex carbohydrate has many micronutrients associated with it (nutrient dense) while simple sugars are nutrient poor. The estimated carbohydrate need is 6-10 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight.

In addition to meals, other times when carbohydrate ingestion is important are before, during, and after class, rehearsal, or performance. About 1-2 hours prior to these activities, a small carbohydrate snack should be consumed. This will increase glucose levels in the circulation and “top-off” muscle glycogen stores. A carbohydrate snack, such as a bagel or commercially available “energy” bars, can provide the added boost needed for optimal performance.

During long rehearsals it is also important to ingest some carbohydrate to maintain circulating levels of glucose to prevent fatigue. A good way to ingest this carbohydrate is in solution such as sports drinks that are specially formulated to contain the right amount of carbohydrate (6-8% glucose) to empty from the stomach quickly. Ingesting carbohydrate in a solution provides the added benefit of fluid replacement.

After a period of dancing, the muscles require an adequate supply of carbohydrate to replenish the muscle glycogen stores. Because the fastest rate of glycogen re-synthesis occurs in the 2 hours following exercise, it is important to ingest carbohydrate as soon as possible after a long or strenuous exercise period to refill muscle stores and be ready for the next activity.”

“Fat
Fat from the diet provides structure for all cell membranes, comprises the insulating layer around nerves, forms the base of many hormones, is needed for the absorption of fat soluble vitamins, and is an important fuel for muscles. The estimated grams of fat in the diet are about 1.2 gm per kilogram of body weight. Because ingestion of high amounts of saturated fats is associated with chronic disease, the recommended amount of saturated fat in the diet should be less than 10%.

Muscle and adipose (fat) tissue store fat in the form of triglycerides. During exercise, triglycerides are broken down into fatty acids which are metabolized to produce energy for muscle contraction. Fatty acids are used as an energy source in the muscle for endurance activities such as during a long rehearsal where the body is continuously exercising for over 20 minutes at a time. A diet too low in fat can have serious health consequences and ultimately can impair performance.”

“Protein
Adequate protein ingestion is essential for all dancers who are training. For those dancers who are not building muscle, protein is needed to repair the breakdown of muscle fibers that are stressed by constant use. Protein is also used as an auxiliary fuel, and it is important for synthesizing the many enzymes necessary for metabolism. The estimated protein need is 1.4-1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. For non-vegetarians, chicken or turkey without the skin are excellent low fat protein sources. For vegetarians, tofu, seitan (wheat gluten), and mixtures of beans and rice are good protein choices. Protein powders are not necessary, even for male dancers, if they are following the recommendations above. If a protein supplement is warranted, the best choice is milk powder. The high tech and expensive protein supplements on the market are not any better than simple dry milk.”

“Micronutrients
Vitamins and minerals comprise the micronutrients in the diet. Water soluble vitamins are the B vitamins and vitamin C. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat soluble. The B vitamins play important roles in energy production (especially thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin B6) and in red blood cell formation (folic acid and vitamin B12). Deficiency of these vitamins can impair performance. Vitamins A (beta carotene), C, and E function as antioxidants that are necessary for the repair of over-stressed muscles and are needed to help muscles recover from strenuous classes and rehearsals. Vitamin D is important in bone formation.

Minerals are classified into macrominerals that are needed in levels of over 100 mg/day and microminerals (trace minerals) that are needed in levels of under 100 mg/day. Macrominerals are calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium, but only calcium will be discussed because of its importance for dancers. There are 9 trace minerals but only iron and zinc will be discussed because of the possible deficiency of these minerals in dancers.

Calcium is important in bone formation. During the first 2-3 decades of life, bone mass is developed and thereafter, bone formation ceases. It is essential to ingest adequate calcium during the bone growth years. Low bone mass and low calcium intake are also associated with increased risk of stress fractures. The richest source of calcium is dairy products.

Iron is a trace mineral needed to carry oxygen in the blood because it forms part of the hemoglobin molecule. Oxygen is used for the production of energy in muscle cells. Dietary iron is of two types, the heme, found in meat, and non-heme, less absorbable type found in plants. Dancers should include some lean red meat in their diet to obtain adequate iron. However, if dancers are vegetarians, then they should be careful to ingest foods rich in iron, like whole grains. Because vitamin C increases the absorption of non-heme iron, ingesting a source of vitamin C along with food will maximize absorption of non-heme iron. Red meat is also a good source of zinc which is a component of several enzymes important in energy production and plays a role in red blood cell production.

Dancers should be cautious about taking vitamin and mineral supplements because supplements containing only selected micronutrients could do more harm than good. Excessive amounts of one can interfere with the absorption of another, and megadoses of some vitamins and minerals could be toxic. Adjusting the diet so that it is rich in micronutrients is the recommended means of obtaining necessary micronutrients. Furthermore, there are numerous phytochemicals in food that impart important health benefits.

To obtain all important micronutrients, dancers should increase the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables (recommended 5 servings of fruit or vegetables per day), whole grains, dairy products, and lean red meat. Because not all vitamins or minerals occur in all foods, dancers should ingest a wide variety of foods. A calorie restricted or monotonous diet could lead to a deficiency in some of these vitamins and could impair the ability to train strenuously and recover. As an insurance policy, a multivitamin/mineral supplement containing equal to or less than the recommended level of each micronutrient will provide a balance that is not harmful. Read the label carefully before purchasing a vitamin/mineral supplement.”

Restricted diet= restricted performance. 

“There are many dietary supplements on the market designed to enhance performance or decrease body weight. Dancers should be warned that these supplements are ineffective or even dangerous. Dietary supplements can be marketed without adequate proof that they are effective or safe.”

Fluid
Exercise increases heat production by muscles. Cooling the body depends on evaporation of sweat from the skin. Sweat losses during a hard class or long rehearsal can be substantial-up to 2 liters/hour. Fluid loss results in dehydration that can impair performance and mental functioning, such as the ability to quickly pick up complicated choreographic combinations and execute them effectively.

A cup (8 ounces or 250 ml) of fluid every 15 minutes is recommended. Whenever there is a break in class or rehearsal, the dancer should have ready access to fluid, and they should be encouraged to drink because the thirst mechanism does not keep up with the body’s need for fluid. A water bottle or sport drink should be part of a dancer’s “gear,” and, if possible, the dancer should be able to bring the bottle into the studio for frequent drinks. Following class and rehearsal, dancers should continue to increase fluid consumption for the next few hours. Avoid carbonated drinks and large quantities of fruit juice.

A simple way to monitor hydration is to check urine color: clear to light yellow is hydrated; yellow to dark yellow means dehydrated. One caveat, vitamin B supplements will result in yellow urine and make this dehydration “test” inaccurate.”

I know that was long, so congratulations if you made it here and you’ve read everything above! I hope this helps to guide fellow dancers towards a healthier lifestyle.

Now for some useful resources:

Any fellow Irish dancers: this is a wonderful pamphlet on Irish dance nutrition

If you’ve ever had any questions about the nutritional value of what you eat, this site will answer your questions.

Again, thank you for reading, I hope that someone out there found this useful!

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