While cooking from scratch is often touted as the ideal approach to healthy eating, it’s not always feasible for dancers during busy rehearsal and performance periods. Elaborate home-cooked meals are also not the be-all and end-all of nutritious eating. Particularly when time is scarce, turning to nutritious snacks and relying on packaged and frozen foods can be part of a healthy eating plan, offering convenience without sacrificing nutrition.
When Caitlin Trainor’s daughter Evangelina was a toddler, Trainor wanted to give her a treat that was nourishing and contained minimal refined sugars. After some experimentation in the kitchen, Trainor developed her cast-iron banana bread.
A healthy approach to eating during recovery involves an abundance and a variety of foods that offer the body tools to support tissue repair, muscle building, energy replenishment, and immunity. In addition to nutrition, it’s important that dancers focus on mindset—and the ability to stay motivated and confident—during injury recovery.
Just as nutrition is important to a dancer’s fuel plan, eating patterns that support a dancer’s relationship with food can have an incredible impact on performance potential onstage and in the studio. Yet research suggests that dancers are three times more likely to struggle with an eating disorder than the general population. This often involves inflexibility around foods that diet culture deems to be “bad” or “unhealthy,” like processed foods or desserts.
Martha Graham Dance Company’s Anne Souder Shares Her Substitution-Friendly Potato-Crust Quiche and Only Green Salad Recipes
In 2020, Anne Souder made a New Year’s resolution to create less food waste—and it stuck. The Martha Graham Dance Company soloist continues to work toward this goal by finding creative ways to repurpose leftover ingredients.
While the intent behind “What I Eat in a Day” posts is often harmless, the reality is that they can lay the groundwork for a dancer’s struggle with food. Dancers are already more vulnerable to harmful food and body beliefs that risk disordered eating—adding another source for comparison can leave dancers feeling doubtful.
“My partner and I love, love, love sweet potato pie,” says TyNia René Brandon, who uses she/they pronouns. Although the soul food classic is closely associated with holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, for Brandon, who plays Dolores and is a member of the ensemble in Broadway’s Some Like It Hot, it’s timeless.
At its most basic level, a hunger cue is your body’s way of communicating a need for energy replenishment. In other words, it’s time for a meal or snack. For dancers, however, hunger cues can be less straightforward, especially when restrictive eating and/or busy schedules can cause these cues to diminish or go unnoticed.