By our TLB team dietitian Rachel Fine.
If you’re world turned upside down in 2020, then you’re not alone. Most dancers continue to navigate a new-normal of lockdowns, Zoom classes, and social isolation. When so much is out of our immediate control in our current lives, we can easily fall into very controlling behaviors, especially around food. But attempting to control an otherwise biologically intuitive process (like eating) can lead a dancer down a path of unsustainable habits. To combat this, here are 3 tips for dancers to build a healthier relationship with food.
Tip 1: Create A Flexible Routine
If in lockdown, you’re likely not as on-the-go as you usually are. Stick to a somewhat normal (yet flexible) eating schedule. Make time for your meals: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Incorporate one, two, maybe three snacks throughout your day to prevent long stretches of time between meals. This will best keep your energy up for class.
When it comes to meals, make them mindful. Sit down, close the screens, set the table and utilize a plate and utensils. Sounds silly, but oftentimes we turn to mindless eating to cope with stress and boredom. While eating, assess your fullness scale (here’s an article that breaks it down) and ask yourself: are you phsycially full and satisfied?
Tip 2: Avoid An “Eat Less” Mindset
It’s common for dancers to want to cut back on food because they might not be moving as much while dancing from home. But this “eat less” mindset drives us further away from our ability to fuel our body intuitively. If you’re restricting, you’ll be overwhelmed with physiological and biological consequences of energy imbalance. Now, with less movement often comes a natural reduction in appetite. But continue to honor your hunger and cravings while listening to your fullness cues. Not sure where to start? This article teaches you how to build a fuel mix. Then, you’ll want to look here to learn how to implement nutrition education in a non-obsessive way.
Tip 3: Make Room for All Emotions
It’s a stressful time and turning to food for comfort is very normal and valid. We’re dealing with a lot of uncertainty right now! But turning to mindless eating or restricting as a way to cope with stress, anxiety, and boredom might be preventing you from maximizing your training. Instead, take power over your thoughts. Ask yourself: “What would help me right now?” Is it taking a walk or reading a book?
If you’re struggling, work with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for individualized help regarding your meal plan and building a sustainable relationship with food.