Dance is one of the most energy-demanding physical activities in existence. Have you ever wondered why dance fitness classes are so popular? They are extreme calorie-burning blasts! Consuming a diet of well-balanced nutrition can feel overwhelming and time-consuming and sometimes us dancers just get hungry. It is vital that dancers have high energy, the nutrients to repair muscle tissue, and caloric intake to function at an optimal level all year round. As a dancer, I place pressure on myself to meet the demands of pristine technique, physical strength, and an aesthetic posture that sometimes exhausts my energy store. I just get SO hungry at times throughout the day and have found there are numerous dancers who do as well.
As I left the studio one night and began my commute home, I couldn't help but to notice the golden "M" inviting me to pull through it's oh-so-welcoming drive through. Fortunately, I found the strength to ignore the urge and continued towards home, realizing I find myself in the same pattern every night of the work week thinking "mmmm looking good, golden M". Then I asked myself, "why am I so hungry every night around the same time when I just ate a snack bar?".
My dance journal has been key in this discovery as I have began recording what I eat during the week. They "aha! moment" was when I began recording when I'm extremely hungry, energetic, or cranky (what Monica likes to call "Hangry"). After two weeks I reviewed my personal study and realized many other dancers must go through the same eating habits day-in and day-out. What was quickly recognized is that the amount energy leaving my body is not being quickly replaced with complex carbs, vitamins, minerals, complete protein, and healthy fats which are all MUST for athletes (livestrong.com) even more-so than the average human.
Thermodynamics is about energy balance (Dancing at Your Peak, Chmelar 1990). There is a key relationship between caloric intake through food and drink and energy used by the body. Energy is never created or destroyed; it is transferred between systems equally. How do dancers replace all of the energy released through our rigorous dance regimen?
It is so important to ask oneself, "Am I balanced in my nutrition?". In my mind I quickly reviewed the hustling lifestyle I have chosen for my life to realize REAL food does not come out of a window. So how do I balance my energy needs to dance all year round? I need easy and quick food that is already in it's own wrapper. We all do. Between family obligations, school, dance, and all of the other activities we cram into our 24 hours, we have lost sight of the importance of clean, real energy-replacement.
Below is a list Monica and I put together that I use today. We sat down together and got serious because nutrition is something we all should all focus on a little bit more. This list of foods provide energy that is used throughout the day, complete proteins required in repairing muscle tissue, and healthy fats for the brain function at its optimal level. They may not come out of a window but they are just as convenient and easy to throw in a dance bag!
- Greek Yogurt and granola (no sugar added)
- Almond Milk and a banana
- Kiwi with a spoon
- Dry fruit and nut trail mix
- Kind bars (Awesome, organic, artificial sweetener,sugar-free))
- String cheese with grapes
- Boiled eggs
- Wheat thins or veggies and hummus
- Plantain chips and hummus
- Jar of natural peanut butter and a spoon
- Sunflower/pumpkin seeds
- Edameme (one of our favorites)
- Kale chips (40% of vitamin A and C)
- Vitamins (We both love our daily multi!)
- Salad with avacado
- Protein shakes ("Orgain" is a great dairy-free, sugar-free brand!
Having balanced energy in your life will completely change the way to dance through it. I love what I do because dance and motherhood are my life. Now you can finally understand where "Mrs. Mcelfresh gets all her energy"! Do you have other convenient and balanced snack ideas! Let us know!