What if the answers to our dance problems... are in the food we eat?
Our diet can help us prevent injuries, provide sustained, balanced energy, and keep us strong – both physically and mentally.
Below are some problems you may face as a dancer, and natural ways to improve them through your diet!
Joint and muscle pain is very common for dancers. They are usually a sign of inflammation.
Long hours of practice or taking multiple back to back classes in one day can trigger joint and muscle pain.
Although inflammation is a natural defense mechanism and plays a part in healing, too much of it can cause problems, like tissue destruction.
The high levels of Vitamin C in red raspberries will help alleviate your joint and soft tissue inflammation.
Red raspberry tea is known to help reduce inflammation and relieve pain specifically in joints. Drink it before you dance, or after a long rehearsal or workshop.
Staying hydrated during long hours of dancing is an obvious must, but sometimes drinking just water can be “boring.” (And make us keep running to the bathroom.)
Also, drinking too much water can actually cause the body to flush out important vitamins and minerals.
So it’s important to have a good balance of drinking and eating it.
Eating water allows the body to absorb and store it longer, and also replenish any lost vitamins and minerals.
Watermelon and Strawberries (92% water)
Broccoli (91% water)
Cantaloupe (90% water)
Pineapple (86% water)
Cucumber (96% water)
Drink water and snack on these throughout long practices or workshops. You’ll feel hydrated the whole time!
Constantly being distracted can make class taking way more challenging.
Luckily, we can enhance our focus through what we eat.
Antioxidants protect the brain's functions like focus and memory.
Eat these foods rich in antioxidants to keep your mind sharp for dancing!
Blueberries are considered one of the best sources of antioxidants because of their ability to effectively combat free radicals. Blueberries are known to benefit the nervous system by improving memory and cognitive function.
Tea leaves have been found to contain antioxidants similar to many fruits and vegetables. Green tea is very helpful for detoxing the body of free radicals and its small amount of caffeine helps with focusing. Unlike coffee and soda, green tea releases its caffeine slowly – preventing unwanted caffeine crashes.
A common mistake many dancers make is eating a heavy meal right before dancing. This can lead to a lack of energy, AKA "food coma."
The trick is to eat a meal high in good carbohydrates 1-2 hours before you plan on dancing.
A good place to start is whole grain foods like oats, rice, veggies, or pasta. Good carbohydrates are one of the bodies primary sources of energy.
They’re absorbed slower, making the energy last longer.
Eating 1-2 hours before dancing gives our bodies enough time to properly digest our food, preventing the sluggish feeling you get while dancing on a full stomach.
If you're the type of dancer that gets hungry in 2 hours no matter what, then make a fruit or veggie smoothie to-go!
The smoothie will re-fill you up and give you additional energy and nutrients throughout your night.
What we eat can either be the cause for, or solution to the different problems within our bodies.
Choose to fill yourself with healthy, natural, nutrient-rich foods in order to be in the best condition to dance.
Shalena is a dancer from the Bay Area who studies the relationship between diet/health and dance performance.
You can contact her through her blog for additional questions.