As the big day approaches, dancer nutrition choices are very important. You need to make sure performers’ bodies are getting the right nutrition, so that they are healthy before, during, and after practice, and build muscle to come back better and stronger for the next rehearsal. On the day of recital, don’t make big changes to your eating habits! In this article we’ll talk about some best practices for dancer nutrition, especially in the 24 hours before a recital.
Eating For Performance Day: The Night Before
Staples of great dancer nutrition: lean protein, healthy carbohydrates, veggies, and PLENTY of water.
Several professional ballerinas were interviewed by Coveteur magazine, and they offered some of their favorite choices for meals and ingredients packed full of nutrients:
- Baked salmon (or other fish filet, not breaded!)
- Grilled chicken breast
- Rice (preferably brown)
- Roasted Italian Potato Salad
- Steamed and buttered broccoli
- Sliced tomato, cucumber, avocado
Eating For Performance Day: The Day Of
Onstage Dance Company has an great article that talks about various dancer eating strategies:
“Dance nutrition experts mostly agree that the best approach to performance day nutrition is eating small meals throughout the day, starting with a substantial breakfast to get your body and mind fueled and ready to go.”
They recommend a few breakfast choices like:
- Oatmeal with fruit
- Plain greek yogurt
- Whole grain toast with peanut butter*
- Fruit smoothie
As far as small meals throughout the day go, it’s up to the individual dancer as to what foods they like and what kinds of foods can keep them feeling full.
Here are some of our favorite snack choices we found from Emily Cook Harrison, who collaborated with the Dance Informa on a great article on high-energy snacks for dancers:
- 1 banana with 1-2 tbsp peanut butter*
- Hardboiled egg or string cheese with 5-10 whole grain or rice crackers
- Pre-made bar or oatrolls (see article for recipe) with fruit, dates, nuts and/or whole grains.*
- (You can make a large batch of these and freeze them, then just put frozen oatrolls in his/her dance bag in the morning so by the afternoon they are thawed and yummy.)
Gluten-free or dairy free snack requirements?
- Rice cakes with nut butter and a piece of fruit
- Popcorn, pumpkin seeds, GF pretzels, and dried fruit trail mix
- Coconut water, dark chocolate almond milk or coconut milk
*Author’s note: In past articles, readers have mentioned their concern about bringing nuts due to possible peanut or tree nut allergies among the dancers. Please be sure to consider those with nut allergies when deciding what to bring to the studio or to a performance, and remember that some severe allergies can be triggered by contact with very small amounts of the allergen.