Nutrition for a Ballerina
Updated: Oct 11, 2018
Ballet is a creative form of performing arts that focuses on clear movements of the body and its precision. It creates a formal coordination between the limbs and the body itself. There is so much that goes into a ballerina to make the dance perfect, but perfection is only achieved when the dancer is healthy! This means that the dancer should have a normal weight by maintaining a proper nutrition. There is always a notion that a ballerina must be this slim figure with a thin waist, but this is 2018! There should not be a specification of how slim a person must be or how low the number on the scale must be. Everyone’s body is different become of different genetics, height and other factors. Check below the ideal, healthy weight for your child should be.
It should only matter on the dancer’s health. The dance industry should promote healthy nutrition especially when participants include young children too. Becoming a ballerina means that you need to focus on the food that you are eating. Is it healthy? Will it help me achieve the best? Will it help me perform better? These questions matter because you are what you eat. This means that whatever you eat will impact your performance. It does not mean that you should starve yourself or eat less, it means that you should eat things that will benefit your body.
So, what is a proper nutrition for a ballerina? The most important thing to begin with is…... AVOID EATING JUNK FOOD! Why do you think that the food is called “junk”? Easy, it is not good for us. Chips, cookies, juices and fast foods are addictive especially for small children, but they are simply not good for us. Why do you think obesity rates nationwide are increasing? In the article “Obesity Rates & Trends Overview” it says, “If trends continue, children today could be the first generation to live shorter, less healthy lives than their parents. Obesity rates vary state-to-state but remain high nationwide. Across the United States, more than one in three adults and one in six children (ages 2-19) are obese — and one in 11 young children (ages 2-5) are obese.” Obesity is a major problem in our nation today, but it can be avoided if we don’t fall victims to the fast food chains and junk food companies that advertise their food. It is scientifically proven that eating foods like these lower performance ability. In the same article, it states, “Childhood obesity is correlated with poor educational performance… If all kids have the opportunity to grow up at a healthy weight — a lifestyle that includes nutritious food and plenty of time for active play — they are more likely to reach their full potential.” Yeah, are you considering on changing your child’s diet yet? If not, you might want to consider it. Now you are probably thinking what do I give my child?
One thing to consider ALWAYS is to go natural. Everything in our world is processed with preservatives and GMOs that what we call food is not even food anymore. But the closest thing to food is the natural vegetables and fruits that grow. The best way to stay healthy is eating these things and in-taking as many vitamins you can, the NATURAL way. According to Emily Harrison who wrote the article, “5 Foods That Dancers Must Eat”, she wrote, “Fruit is the perfectly portable pre-rehearsal snack. Having trouble remembering that ballet you learned last year? Flavonoid-rich foods like blueberries have been shown to enhance spatial memory and speed rates of learning. The dark red skins of apples and grapes contain polyphenols, which have a protective effect against oxidative stress. Pineapple has been shown to reduce inflammation.” These are just benefits of three fruits, but we have so many varieties of fruit that you can take benefits from all. It all enhances your behavior and hence your performance. Shh, don’t tell anyone your secret! Now you might be thinking don’t fruits have sugar, and does sugar not make you fat? Yes, it does have sugar, but it is the good sugar, not the processed type that you eat in candy or bread. Apples for example is loaded in GOOD sugar but it also has a lot of fiber that balances out the sugar and helps you digest your food. But when you eat something like a granola bar, it has processed sugar that the body does not know how to store and s0 stores it as fat. You want to be healthy, not storing fat that is unhealthy. You should have good fat, but the unprocessed fat is what makes you overweight. Harrison continues to write, “These high-water content foods, which are packed with fiber, vitamins and phytonutrients, are low in calories and have almost no fat. The body absorbs Vitamin C much better from an actual piece of fruit than some mega-dose powdered mix. Fruits have been given a bad rap for their sugar, but it is naturally occurring fructose not the processed sugar you find in bars or beverages.” So yes, the more natural you go, the better.
Now onto veggies. Yes vegetables, they are loaded in the things that your body loves the most. Not only are they natural but also help you naturally build your endurance and stamina. The most beneficial vegetables are the one that are green like celery, spinach, and kale. These are superfoods that provide so many vitamins and fiber. According to Harrison, “All veggies contain bioactive compounds such as polyphenols, flavonoids, carotenoids and lycopene.” Those are some big words but just know that the more you take in these things, the healthier lifestyle you will have. “Naturally occurring nitrates in foods like beets, arugula, spinach and rhubarb have been shown to significantly improve performance with better power output and speed.” Your body will be able to coordinate even better so that you can perform to your best ability. There are different ways you can intake these vegetables. Most athletes make green smoothies and beet juice to get all the benefits in a glass for muscle endurance and buildup. Eating natural foods not only boosts your energy but make you feel more confident and active in what you do. So, throw those chips out right now because they don’t want to help you. Take the toxic things out of your life right now, trust me your body will be happier.
Saved the best one for last, water! A normal person should be consuming 8 glasses of water, but if you are a dancer you need to consume at least 10 glasses of water. Water is a natural antioxidant that cleans and purifies your body. Hydration can help you feel better and active and add glow to your face. As you dance, you lose water to sweat so make sure you are hydrating efficiently. According to BetterwayHealth, “Water accounts for a large percentage of our bodies.” Therefore, by drinking more water throughout the day, you are benefiting different things like your mental concentration and alertness and your muscles. You are removing all the toxins in your body and enhancing your energy. Water has very special minerals that allows all this happen.
Ballerinas require a very healthy diet that maintain the normal weight not too slim and not too overweight, but the ideal. Ballerinas are under pressure to maintain the thin look, but health should come before anything. Make sure you or your child are maintaining a healthy diet that is mostly NATURAL and avoiding foods you know are not good for you.
● “5 Foods That Dancers Must Eat.” CAPEZIO Spotlight Blog, Emily C. Harrison, 21 Mar. 2016, spotlight.capezio.com/5-foods-that-dancers-must-eat/.
● “Ballet's Power on Pointe.” Food & Nutrition Magazine, Kristina LaRue, 5 May 2014, foodandnutrition.org/may-june-2014/ballets-power-pointe/.
● “Obesity Rates & Trends Overview.” Iowa State Obesity Data, Rates and Trends - The State of Obesity, The State of Obesity, stateofobesity.org/obesity-rates-trends-overview/.
● “Water & Dancer Health.” Dance Informa Magazine, 24 Feb. 2011, www.danceinforma.com/2011/02/10/water-dancer-health/.
● “Ideal Height and Weight Chart.” Rush University Medical Center, www.rush.edu/health-wellness/quick-guides/what-is-a-healthy-weight.
By: Aroosa Sarwar
SYEP 2018 Intern