Whether you’re a young dancer, amateur or professional, it can be challenging to figure out what to eat and when. Living with all the different stereotypes that haunt dancers is extremely difficult. It’s tough to be a young woman, let alone a dancer with all the constant body images that the media throws in your general direction.
How should you regulate your eating as a dancer? Food intake can and should be different for everyone, but no dancer should be severely under-eating or restrict calories to meet body image goals.
From a nutrition standpoint, you might crave things that satisfy a need or deficiency. Craving sugar when your body is tired is a classic example of this. Another common craving stems from seeing foods as “bad”. If you have told yourself that carbs are no good and you’re avoiding them at all costs, you’ll probably also find yourself craving those so-called “forbidden foods”.
If you’ve sworn off chocolate and ice cream, you’re going to have a hard time thinking about anything else. To help solve this it can be helpful to cut out these sweets gradually or have a cheat day.
You also don’t want to dwell on setbacks. If you’ve overindulged during the holidays, don’t stress over it. Tomorrow is another day.
Your Relationship With Food
Food should not be thought of as a crutch or something to do when bored or when you feel sad. Food cravings, like any type of craving, are caused by the regions of the brain that are responsible for memory, pleasure, and reward. When you begin to have an unhealthy relationship with food, it can go down a negative path that can be difficult to get out of.
Do you remember a time when you weren’t thinking about your body image? Do you remember a time when you could eat cake and fully enjoy it? For many of us, we haven’t felt so carefree since childhood.
It won’t happen overnight but it is possible to get back to that happy place with food and your body. Will cravings still happen? Of course! They will probably never go away but you’ll allow yourself to indulge mindfully, enjoy the food and move on. No guilt trip included.
Social Media Influence
Social media can be a huge cause of the problem. If you find yourself overly comparing yourself to others then it might be beneficial to limit the time spent online. You should be aware of how body image and food pictures can trigger people. It’s really dangerous for dancers to see clear examples of under-eating. For younger dancers, the damage can be long term, even lasting. For the older dancers, it can still make you question things.
How you think about food and food choices is key to your overall health, both mentally and physically. Try to limit outside pressure or influence (I know it’s easier said than done). Everything should be enjoyed in moderation. If you find yourself curious about nutrition, don’t just Google search it, find reputable sources including nutritionists, science-based books and articles.
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