Why Are Nutrition Workshops for Dancers Important?
Nutrition workshops for dancers are a key element of a dance school or company’s training efforts. Whether at a year-round program or a summer intensive, nutrition workshops for dancers are encouraged to combat common challenges that exist for both the dancers and the educators.
In 2008, I attended a nutrition workshop in my college dance program. At the time, I was becoming very interested in nutrition and the role food played in my performance as a dancer. It was clear that the individual who taught the workshop subscribed to a “clean” eating lifestyle, and as a young dancer seeking control over her future career, I was sold. The 60-minute seminar touched on the basics: the importance of adding fruits and veggies to our plates. And seemingly harmless advice to avoid processed foods was something I took, at the time, very seriously. But there was one major problem:
This workshop introduced me to what would become a year-long battle of deeply disordered eating habits. Click here to learn more about me and why I shifted gears to become a registered dietitian nutritionist for dancers.
What to consider for your dance nutrition workshop
For dancers, a highly competitive environment can leave many vulnerable to studio chatter that is saturated in messages from diet culture. Educators often feel limited in their abilities to intervene in a dancer’s experience with food and body image.
A nutrition workshop for dancers can educate dancers about food and meal guidance, performance optimization, injury prevention, injury recovery, body image healing, and lifestyle sustainability. Additionally, dance nutrition workshops can be a valuable opportunity to introduce dancers to the red flags of diet culture and the risks of restrictive eating habits.
But the nutrition seminar that was offered to me back in 2008 did just the opposite.
Nutrition education will benefit dancers, but where that education comes from is important. I’ve previously discussed the importance of referring to licensed professionals for education that spans beyond one’s scope and expertise. For mental health support, we must turn to a licensed mental health therapist or psychologist. And when it comes to food and nutrition, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who is specifically trained and familiar with the unique needs of dancers is fundamental. Unfortunately, the director of my college dance program did not vet the individual who offered the seminar (you guessed it: wasn’t a licensed dietitian nutritionist).
Dancers are especially vulnerable to the development of disordered eating and eating disorders. Individuals who lack appropriate nutrition licensure can easily share highly triggering information with dancers currently working to heal their relationships with food. So, it’s essential that dancers seek qualified advice for appropriate nutrition intervention and prevention.
Sometimes, I wonder how my path would have looked had I not been introduced to “clean” eating during that seminar. But luckily, it landed me here and now I can confidently teach why “lifestyles” do more harm than good for dancers. It’s also why I designed an entire Summer Intensive to bring credentialed dance medicine professionals to dancers in the form of virtual workshops.
When should studios consider a dance nutrition workshop?
There are many reasons to consider holding a nutrition workshop for your dancers. You might be overhearing dressing room chatter about dancers freaking out over needing to “avoid processed foods” and “eat clean.” Or, perhaps you notice your dancers struggling with comparative thoughts and poor body image.
8 signs to host a dance nutrition workshop:
- Dancers are exhibiting restrictive food behaviors (extreme changes in weight, avoiding snack times)
- Dancers are struggling with meal and snack timing for their busy dance schedules.
- Dancers are asking many questions about food and nutrition.
- You want to support your dancers’ habits, including maximizing their plates to gain the nutrients their bodies need most.
- You’re looking to help your dancers optimize their energy levels for performance.
- You’re interested in helping dancers reduce their risk for injury.
- You notice dancers struggling with fatigue, and want to help reduce those instances.
- You’re interested in cultivating a healthy and positive environment at your studio in regard to food and body
Regardless, prevention is important and education is your best tool for battling the (mis)information around food and nutrition that looms throughout our industry.
I’m ready to give my dancers a nutrition workshop!
Nurturing The Healthy Dancer® is my fully customizable workshop designed for studios and companies looking to educate their dancers about sustainable and evidence-based food and nutrition knowledge. Virtual and in-person options are available. Whether your students are mainly traveling from home to attend a year-round trainee program, or perhaps you’re hosting a summer intensive, dance nutrition workshops are encouraged. A few of the many topics covered:
Topics covered in a dance nutrition workshop:
- Preventing Relative Energy Deficiency In Sport
- Building Body Confidence
- Why Dieting Doesn’t Work
- Digestive Discomfort
- Hormonal Health
- Introduction to Intuitive Eating
- Mindful Eating Tips & Tricks
- Navigating Auditions & The Potential for Rejection
- Managing Perfectionism
If you’re a dance educator or a dance parent, you have the power to support the shift in your students: from feeling obsessed about food to feeling empowered around food. Click here to learn more about this unique workshop for dancers. And last, if financial constraints exist, free resources are available for your dancers.