There is often times a stigma associated with ballerinas and the need to be skinny. It is no secret that this stigma can lead to eating disorders, and many ballerinas are unfortunately stereotyped as having various disorders. However, there are many ways to maintain a healthy diet and stay in shape the right way! Here are a few tips and helpful hints to help ballerinas balance their diet:
- Food intake must include all the necessary nutrients: a good balance in your everyday should be approximately: 58-60% Carbohydrates, 12-15% Protein and 30-25% Fat.
- Keep a good balance of acid and alkaline within the body. Your diet should be balanced with 20% acid forming foods and 80% alkaline forming foods.
- Water can account for approximately 65% of the body’s weight, depending on one’s age and sex. We all know water is important, but many do not know why. It is essential for the digestive process, carrying food to the tissues and carrying away waste. It controls body temperature. Water directs the process of converting food into tissue and energy. You should be drinking one and a half to two liters of water every day.
- You should eat a meal one and a half to three hours before performing. In order to have a good energy level, this meal should have complex carbohydrates, which is the best energy source for dancers.
- Avoid sweet fluids before performing because they are absorbed very slowly and do not enhance performance.
- When cooking, use olive oil instead of butter.
- Eat tons of fiber and leafy greens.
- Try to avoid making cream sauces or mayonnaise-based dressings.
Important vitamins and their functions:
- Vitamin A to act as an antioxidant to help your muscles to recover and heal and to aid bone formation (leafy green vegetables, yellow fruits, milk, cheese, egg yolks)
- vitamin B1 [thiamin] to convert food to energy (pork, whole grains, legumes, fish)
- vitamin B2 [riboflavin] to convert food to energy (lean meats, dairy products, leafy green vegetables, eggs)
- vitamin B3 [niacin] to convert food to energy (dairy products, poultry, lean meat, fish, legumes, nuts, eggs)
- vitamin B6 [pyridoxine] to help form red blood cells, make protein (chicken, fish, eggs, brown rice, whole-wheat bread)
- vitamin B12 to maintain healthy nerve cells and red blood cells (fish, dairy products, eggs, meat, poultry)
- vitamin C as an antioxidant to help muscles to heal and recover, to enhance the immune system (citrus fruits, tomatoes, berries, broccoli, cabbage, sweet potatoes)
- vitamin D to promote absorption of calcium and formation of bone (fortified milk, salmon, tuna, sunshine!)
- vitamin E as an antioxidant to help muscles heal and recover, help formation of red blood cells (wheat germ, soybean, corn, olives, seeds and nuts, spinach, asparagus, vegetable oils)
- calcium – essential for development and maintenance of bones and teeth, important for muscle contraction and nerve function (dairy products, green leafy vegetables, tofu, fortified orange juice)
- iron to carry oxygen in the blood (meats, poultry, fish, oysters, whole-grain cereal, fruits, green veggies, egg yolks)
- zinc to support the immune system (oysters, meats, poultry, legumes, nuts, dairy products, whole-grain cereal)
- magnesium to metabolize food to transmit messages between cells to relaxing muscles, for other different fucntions in the body (nuts, legumes, whole grains, green vegetables, spinach, avocados, bananas)
- potassium which is critical to muscle contraction and heart function, building muscle, normal body growth (fish, broccoli, peas, lima beans, tomatoes, potatoes, leafy greens, apples, bananas, apricots)
Finally, try to avoid the following:
- Eating extremes of any kind
- Fad diets
- Food grown with pesticides, antibiotics or hormones
- Junk food
- Refined, processed foods
- Soda (regular and diet)
- Excessive caffeine
The Dancing Gourmet is a great book filled with recipes and more helpful hints about how to balance a healthy ballerina diet, by Linda Hymes.