Eat Healthy This July Fourth

July 3, 2016

Happy Fourth of July! If you have plans for celebrating Independence Day, odds are that a barbecue or potluck is on the agenda. But what if the holiday falls in the middle of a tour, or you’re trying to stay in shape during a break or summer layoff?  After all, barbecues and potlucks are notorious for breaking out the foods that dancers seek to avoid. If you’re a little nervous about finding healthier options, don’t be. We’ve got a handful of pro-tips for keeping it (relatively) nutritious so you can kick back, relax and enjoy the fireworks.

Help with meal prep. 
Studies show that we tend to eat healthier when we prepare our own food than when we eat out. Knowing exactly what is going in to the food you’ll eat later means that you can make more informed choices about what you’re putting into your body. Bonus tip: pairing certain foods helps to make the most of their individual benefits.

Go for protein first. 
Foods that are high in protein fill us up more quickly and keep hunger at bay longer than foods that are primarily carbohydrates, making overeating a less likely outcome. Go for nuts or grilled chicken for leaner options, or indulge in a burger, which has it’s own nutritional values (such as higher iron content, necessary for red blood cell formation)—just avoid overloading it with condiments or unhealthy additions, like bacon. A veggie burger is also a less fatty, healthier (and delicious!) option.

Bring your own healthy options.
Try out this Carolyn Dorfman dancer’s go-to 3-bean salad recipe, or bring veggie platters or hummus dip (or both!) to counteract the potato chips and dessert platters. This will make it easier for you to reach for something nutritious during the inevitable snacking. Plus, if you snack before a junk food craving hits, you can help retrain your brain to crave healthier options from the get-go.

Stay hydrated. 
Drinking lots of water might be habitual in the studio, but outside it might slip your mind. Grab a bottle of water and sip regularly throughout the day, especially if you’ll be outdoors. Water is also a secret weapon against overeating, as sometimes our brains mistake early signals of thirst for hunger. And be smart about your level of alcohol consumption—while there are some benefits to drinking in moderation, alcohol can affect your dancing, both short- and long-term.

Get some sun! 
Spending time in the sunshine unlocks your body’s Vitamin D, something  dancers who spend most of their days in the studio tend to lack. Plus, Vitamin D is surprisingly good for your metabolism. But also be cautious about overexposure. Protecting your skin is important, so at the very least, don’t forget your sunscreen.

Give yourself a break.
 As a dancer, odds are you’re smart about how you eat most days of the year. As most professionals will tell you, letting yourself indulge from time to time is helpful—and not detrimental in the long run. So enjoy that slice of apple pie—it is, after all, a holiday.

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