Rachel Fine, founder of To The Pointe Nutrition and Creator of The Healthy Dancer online training course (www.DanceNutrition.com), is a New York City-based Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and specialist in Sports Nutrition. With a Masters degree in Clinical Nutrition & Dietetics from New York University, Rachel received licensure and certification upon joining the staff of clinical nutrition at NYU Langone Medical Center and has been involved with dance research at NYU's Harkness Center for Dance Injuries. As a dancer and performing artist, Rachel intertwines her passion for ballet and nutrition to deliver the most attainable, yet scientifically sound, information to today's top dancers.
Summer intensives can be incredible experiences, but they also bring challenges. As a former dancer and current nutritionist for dancers, I recall a common scenario: Mornings of classes and afternoons of rehearsals increase the demands on your energy, but with little time for breaks, food becomes less of a priority than new combinations and new repertory.
Busy schedules make it easy for students to unintentionally under-eat. If a dancer loses weight in the process and teachers or directors positively affirm this weight loss, it can increase the risk of developing disordered eating habits. These restrictive dieting behaviors, as a dancer attempts to follow strict rules regarding food choices or daily calorie intake, can stem from a drive to be "healthy" or from a desire to control one's weight. Yet obsessive tendencies can turn harmless intentions into unhealthy habits.
You wander through the grocery aisles, sizing up the newest trends on the shelves. Although you're eager to try a new energy bar, you question a strange ingredient and decide to leave it behind. Your afternoons are consumed with research as you sort through endless stories about "detox" miracles.
What started as an innocent attempt to eat healthier has turned into a time-consuming ritual with little room for error, and an underlying fear surrounding your food choices.
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.