Similar to my dancers, I’ve experienced a past of disordered eating. Despite a very non-restrictive childhood, my disordered eating introduced itself in the dance studio. At the time, my desire to eat and be healthy was a plausible and rather harmless reason to seek nutrition advice and diet change. With intentions to achieve perfection in my dance technique, it made sense (so I thought) to “perfect” my food choices.
The problem however is that my type A personality took this idea from 0 to 200. My harmless intentions quickly turned into a rigid lifestyle with little room for error. Fast forward to a career with a bachelor’s degree in nutrition science, master’s degree in clinical nutrition, and advanced certification in sports nutrition. I’ve got the nutrition part covered and I utilize this evidence-based practice to help dancers optimize performance.
This however, is only half the story. The unfortunate epidemic of disordered eating vividly depicts a culture that needs to change. Though my experience proves me an expert in nutrition for performance, I know that true balance is more than the choices on our plates. What about the foods that don’t necessarily “optimize performance?” What about the days that don’t involve training, routines, or rehearsals?
Between a slice of pizza and a plate of homemade cookies, I cannot bear stating the phrase, “everything in moderation.” Why? Because I know (and I assume that my fellow dietitians agree) that this is a copout. The phrase alone demonizes the very foods that put a smile on my (and my clients’) faces. For the Type A kinda gal, “moderation” doesn’t always make sense. Unfortunately, many perfectionists translate this phrase into a fib where these foods negate the work of weeks of rehearsals and years of training.
As a means to learn more about “moderation” and to best serve my clients, I chose to attain additional certification as a Professional Counselor of Intuitive Eating. This enables me to help others let go of restrictive habits. Together, we navigate an all-or-nothing mindset until we find true comfort in that grey area.
But what exactly is this process and how does it differ from other types of nutrition guidance? To learn more, here are three common questions to consider.
What is Intuitive Eating?
Intuitive eating is a process that was created by two registered dietitians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, in 1995. It involves 10 science-based principles that establish a non-diet approach to eating. Intuitive eaters rebuild trust from within, learning how to honor hunger and fullness cues and rediscover true satisfaction at meal times. The process of Intuitive Eating sets forth a judgment-free lifestyle while building self-respect and body acceptance.
Can Dancers Benefit from Intuitive Eating?
Unsustainable disordered eating habits flood this visual art, which is unfortunately rooted in body aesthetics. Busy schedules also make it difficult for dancers to practice self-attunement. When used in conjunction with performance nutrition, dancers can utilize this approach to develop self-respect and body confidence. Dancers also learn to develop self-trust, which often proves that an under-nourished body is one that performs sub-optimally.
How can I get started?
Since the start of my private practice over six years ago, I work with a proven framework to help those drenched in a culture of disordered eating. It is based upon both the principles of performance nutrition and the principles intuitive eating. If you’re contemplating whether or not this approach is for you, understand that evidence-based education helps to fuel your performance and rebuild your relationship with both food and body. Together, we look at food and rest as self care. As a result, you learn to build sustainable habits not only for physical performance and recovery, but also for mental sustainability.