A Dancer's Guide to Energy Rich Snacks: Make Your Calories Your Allies !

by Caitlin Buck, Feis America LLC contributor

To avoid the hand-in-hand cohorts - fatigue and injury - during this busy month of March, maintain a steady stream of energy by eating foods that keep your blood sugar stabilized. Whether you are getting ready for the next parade or dance-out, or that trans-Atlantic crossing to the next major Irish dancing competition, say no to junk food!

Junk foods, gotta love 'em, break down very quickly. A dancer can feel a sugar RUSH, that wears the guise of energy, and then within 15 minutes CRASH and be hungry again. Yes, hungry again! This sugar-induced munchy craving often leads to overeating. The crash leads to fatigue and moodiness (feared by both family and friends) especially for those sugar-sensitive dancers.

Being one such sugar sensitive dancer myself, I have found that eating an energy-packed snack every two hours or so keeps my energy level pretty constant. Smart planned snacking works much better than say, eating six-ish cookies before dance class to get energy because you feel dead tired. Tried it. Doesn’t work.

Small energy packed snacks with less calories and more punch are the way to go. I feel so strongly about this I came up with a rhyme. Get ready: Munching on little snacks throughout the day keeps nasty drops in blood sugar at bay. (Cute right?)

On Lance Armstrong’s terrific website there are many articles that give advice on eating right for dancers. One such article states, “Eating a small amount of food every couple of hours helps you stay satiated, but it also trains your stomach to feel full on LESS food over time. In addition, it helps to keep your blood sugar steady throughout the day so you have a CONSTANT source of energy. Eat a small snack about an hour before class to give yourself an extra kick. Eat another small snack after class to replenish glycogen stores and rush protein to your aching muscles.”

As La Rochefoucauld aptly stated, "To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art."

Below are a few recommendations of snacks (most able to be packed in 100-calorie snack bags from the grocery store) to eat on the go:

Fresh fruit to be paired with: yogurt, sharp cheddar cheese slices, or peanut butter:  Pears -Apples -Cantaloupe -Bananas -Berries -Kiwi -Peaches

Trail Mix - make your own, it's easy! -Pistachios -Pumpkins Seeds -Pecans -Raisins -Dried Cherries -Dark Chocolate Chips -Walnuts -Little peanut butter crackers -Almonds -Soy Nuts

Veggies with Hummus -Baby Carrots -Celery -Sliced bell peppers -Squash slices

Just as a dancer must practice their steps, it is a good idea to get into the routine of practicing healthy eating. With a little bit of prep, you can make your calories your allies to get you through the day energy-enriched.

Have fun!

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