The schedule of a college dancer is no joke: Between academics, studio classes and rehearsals, getting the fuel you need to power through it all is essential. But unless you live off-campus or have a kitchen in your dorm, you may feel like you're at the mercy of your school's dining hall.
"College is often the first time that dancers are on their own, without the help of their family to make sure they are fueling their bodies adequately," says Monika Saigal, a registered dietitian nutritionist at The Juilliard School who has worked with college dancers across the country. "These changes can feel overwhelming, but the college years are also a great time to build new habits that will help dancers have long and healthy careers." So how do you make sure you're getting the nutrients you need? Here are our best tips for tackling the dining hall.
Eating healthy fats and a bounty of fruits and vegetables is smart. But what about cutting carbs? Photo by Brooke Lark/Unsplash
Although the ketogenic diet has been around since the 1920s as an epilepsy treatment for children, it's experiencing a new wave of popularity. Thanks in part to social media, where "healthy" keto-friendly recipe videos are going viral, the high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet is gaining ground. But is it safe for dancers?
We checked in with Rachel Fine, registered dietitian nutritionist and founder of To The Pointe Nutrition, to see what eating keto means for dancers.
Aguirre taking a cooking class in Thailand. Photo courtesy Aguirre
Chantel Aguirre may call sunny Los Angeles home, but the Shaping Sound company member and NUVO faculty member spends more time in the air, on a tour bus or in a convention ballroom than she does in the City of Angels.
Aguirre, who is married to fellow Shaping Sound member Michael Keefe, generally only spends one week per month at home. "When I'm not working, I'm exploring," Aguirre says. "Michael and I are total travel junkies."
How would you rate your relationship with food? Photo by Peter Secan/Unsplash
Trendy media outlets boast that "fit" is the new "skinny." Instagram bloggers encourage us to #eatclean. As our feeds populate with matcha-filled mornings and the deep hues of acai bowls, awareness of "healthy eating" seems to be at an all-time high.
Yet my experience as a registered dietitian in the dance industry shows me otherwise.
Summer is the best time of year to take advantage of fruits and veggies at the peak of their fresh, ripe flavor. The synergistic symphony of nutrients make them the perfect delivery system for fiber and many vitamins and minerals—all in a delicious, portable package. The natural sugars in fruits are a quick energy boost when dancing.
Here are a few that can reduce muscle soreness and oxidative damage from long hours in the studio.
Show week can take a lot out of you. You might have early company classes, long tech rehearsals and late-night cast parties—not to mention the actual time you spend performing. But developing the right post-show routine can help you recover before the next time you hit the stage.
Fight Inflammation Fast
Start battling inflammation within 20 minutes after curtain drops, recommends Michael Leslie, San Francisco Ballet's Dancer Wellness Center director. "It's harder to get rid of swelling once you have it than it is to minimize it in the first place," he says. He advises icing, as well as using gravity—like putting legs up the wall. SFB has also invested in NormaTec recovery boots, which offer pulsed compression.