Many people have “healthy eating” at the top of their New Year’s Resolutions list. But it’s important to be informed about what nutrition information you’re taking into consideration as there are a lot of diet fads and poor advice circulating the internet. Dancers are athletes, and it’s critical that we nourish our bodies—our instruments—so that we can perform at our best. Here’s a list of 5 nutrition myths you might have heard and why they’re completely untrue!
Eating “fat” will make you fat. Some fats are really good for you (actually, they’re necessary!). You can find these healthy fats in avocados, fish, nuts, and seeds. These fats provide energy, help your cells to rebuild, and balance hormones. Stay away (or try to limit) saturated and trans fats that are found in butter, high-fat dairy, red meat, and many processed foods.
Carbs are bad for you. Not all carbohydrates are created equal. Try to limit your simple carb intake—these are foods like cookies, candy, and white bread. Complex carbs (found in foods such as beans, fruit, and whole-wheat bread) are good for you and can provide quick but sustained energy.
You shouldn’t eat after 7pm. Eating right before bed might cause discomfort or indigestion, but overeating—no matter the time of day—will likely cause weight gain over time. Work on eating intuitively by eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re satisfied (but not stuffed). Dancers, especially, should not shy away from a night snack if your body is starving. Your muscles rest and rejuvenate as you sleep, so make sure you have enough fuel for them to recuperate for your next day of dancing. Some healthy snack options for before bed might be a peanut butter sandwich, apple and string cheese, or a small bowl of cereal.
Never skip breakfast. Eating a healthy breakfast can help you manage your hunger throughout the day, but it’s not true for everyone. If you’re not hungry right when you wake up in the morning, listen to your body. But if you’re running off to school or a long rehearsal, make sure you pack a nutritious snack like a banana, oatmeal packet, or yogurt for when you need it.
Eat many small meals a day. So long as you get an adequate number of calories and nutrition and you feel comfortable after eating (not stuffed or bloated), it doesn’t matter whether you eat three bigger meals or seven smaller meals throughout the day. Experiment to see what makes your body feel good—it can be different for every person!
This was just a taste (pun intended) of some of the inaccurate nutrition advice that’s out there. If you are looking for more guidance, reach out to your primary care doctor or a certified nutritionist who can answer your questions and help you on your health journey.