Traveling to a summer intensive or performing on tour can be exciting and educational, however being away from home presents several challenges related to good nutrition. Many factors may be out of your control, so it is important to be prepared and resourceful as you try to maintain some semblance of your usual routine. Below is some practical advice for nutrition during travel.
Have a safe, successful and healthy trip!
Brad Krause of Self Caring
The art of self-care has been discussed widely in recent months, in part because so many individuals are dealing with anxiety, depression, and severe stress. Between world events, family issues, work, and school, many Americans are having a difficult time coping with their feelings and are finding that their minds and bodies are suffering because of it. While many things can contribute to those feelings, it’s important to remember that there isn’t just one answer when it comes to feeling better. Some people respond better to therapy than others, for instance, or they may talk to their doctor about prescription medication for their anxiety symptoms.
However, there are many natural ways you can ease those feelings of stress and anxiety to boost your mental health. Practicing self-care allows you to focus on your needs on your own terms and in your own time. There’s no right or wrong way to get started, but keep reading for some great ideas to guide you along.
Clear Out the Clutter in Your Home
Studies have shown that people who keep cluttered rooms in their homes tend to have more anxiety, stress, and sleepless nights than those who are more organized, so it’s a good idea to clear out your closets, make your countertops neat, and find storage solutions for the most-used areas of your home. Your bedroom, especially, should be clean, neat, and comforting so you can rest easy without any added issues.
Get Some Sleep
Good rest is the cornerstone of good mental health, so the more you can do to ensure that your sleep is all it can be, the better you’ll feel. Getting daily exercise is a good start, but you can also create a rest routine that will allow you to prepare your body and mind for sleep, such as meditating before bed, taking a hot shower, and putting away all digital screens at least an hour before you lie down. Naps might be enticing when you’re tired, but if you’re having trouble getting to sleep at night, it might be time to cut them from your routine.
Take a Trip
Taking a trip to someplace new can help you get out of your head for a bit and relieve some anxiety, especially if you have a high-stress job. You don’t have to spend a ton of money or leave for days on end; a short road trip to the next town over can actually work wonders. Take in some new sights, go for a hike, or visit a friend or family member. Getting away, even briefly, can be inspiring and can help you recapture your motivation.
Purify the Air in Your Home
You should also be thinking about the air you breathe. Research shows that polluted air possibly contributes to mental health problems by taking a toll on cognition and happiness. You can achieve better cognitive health and improve your mood with an air purifier, which filters out pollutants and allergens. It’s also a great addition to your home if you have a pet, since they carry airborne pollutants. Research all the different types of air purifiers to find the one that’s right for you.
Learn Something New
There are many benefits to learning something new, from boosting your self-esteem and confidence to being able to add to your resume or list of accomplishments. Whether you want to take up a new language or add to your skillset with a new hobby, there are many different options (the average cost of an hour-long language lesson is $57). Activities such as speaking a foreign language, painting, playing music, and gardening help wake up different parts of the brain and benefit those who are living with depression, and they can even assist individuals who are at risk for dementia and other cognitive issues.
Practicing self-care is deeply personal, so it’s important to think about the activities that will help you the most. If traveling makes you anxious, it may not be the best choice for you. Remember that learning to relax takes some time when you’re feeling wound up, so try to be patient with yourself.
Resistance training is essential for facilitating muscular development and fostering strength gains in young dancers. Rapid growth periods during adolescence can lead to reduced strength, impaired balance, and decreased flexibility, which can alter technical ability and increase the risk of injury . Thus, it is recommended to start strength training before puberty to reduce the risk of injury and promote strength gains.
Muscular development in adolescents:
Peak gains in strength typically occur one year after peak height velocity is reached. Late maturers may gain strength later and may not obtain peak strength until their 20s or30s. Differences in hormone levels account for differences in strength gains between boys and girls. Testosterone, growth hormone, and insulin-like growth factors account for increased muscle bulk and accelerated strength in boys. Increased muscle mass typically proceeds strength gains .
Key aspects to developing a strength program:
It is important to target areas of individual weakness when designing a strength program. Pelvic stabilization,, gluteal, and abdominal strengthening are keys to improving neuromuscular control of the lower extremities. A progressive resistance program can increase muscular strength/endurance in as little as 6 to 8 weeks (Stalder, M). Most programs require 2 to 3 days of resistance training per week to see strength gains. Performing high repetitions with lower weight will target muscle endurance, whereas performing fewer repetitions with higher weight will target muscle strength. It is essential to have adequate supervision by a healthcare professional during training to ensure proper progression of training loads and correct technique to avoid injury .
Benefits of strength training:
1) Delegete, A. Health Considerations for the Adolescent Dancer. A webinar through the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries. Accessed September 23, 2018.
2) Haff, Gregory G. Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning 4th Edition 2016. Pages 144-145. (https://www.open.edu/openlearn/ocw/pluginfile.php/617068/mod_resource/content/1/e217_1_excf223_nsca_chapter7_p144_145.pdf)
3) Stalder, M. A., Noble, B. J., & Wilkinson, J. G. (1990). The effects of supplemental weight training for ballet dancers. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 4(3), 95-102.
4) Stracciolini, A., Hanson, E., Kiefer, A. W., Myer, G. D., & Faigenbaum, A. D. (2016). Resistance training for pediatric female dancers. Journal of Dance Medicine & Science, 20(2), 64-71.
The Female Athlete Triad is a condition that includes three components:
– Low bone density (risk for stress fractures and osteoporosis)
– Disordered eating
– Amenorrhea (no menstrual cycle for three months or more)
(Matzkin et al., 2015).
The consequences of the Female Athlete Triad can be long-term and irreversible, and include stunting of growth, reproductive dysfunction, and osteoporosis. Any female athlete is at risk for this syndrome, but women who participate in dance are more susceptible because of the desired lean aesthetic and rigorous training schedule (Barrack et al., 2014). Peak bone density is achieved between ages 18 to 25 years. Poor nutrition (i.e., insufficient calories, calcium and vitamin D), stress, and intense training lead to hormonal disruption during the peak-forming period. Reduced estrogen production leads to bone resorption, and this can occur despite the fact that load-bearing physical activity such as dance usually improves bone-mineral density. Some female athletes have bone density similar to older postmenopausal women, which is dangerously low. One study reported that 80% of female dancers diagnosed with stress fractures of the second metatarsal started their menstrual period late (O’Malley, 1996). This type of bony injury requires at least 6-8 weeks to heal and even longer to rehab.
The remedy for Female Athlete Triad requires that energy needs be met consistently, either by modifying diet or reducing exercise. If body fat is inadequate, restoring body weight to a healthy level is the best strategy for normalizing menstrual periods and improving bone health.
Stress fractures occur in up to 46% of dancers during their career (Delegete, A). Over 60% of these fractures occur during puberty. Decreased strength, proprioception, and balance control, as well as poor technique can lead to increased stress to the bones and thus increased risk for stress fracture. Females are twice as likely than males to have a stress fracture secondary to caloric restriction, reduced bone mineral density, and menstrual irregularities (Delegete, A).
Rehabbing a stress fracture can involve complete rest for 6 to 10 weeks. It is important to recognize possible signs and risk factors to avoid bone damage.
1) Delegete, A. Health Considerations for the Adolescent Dancer. A webinar through the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries. Accessed September 23, 2018.
2)Weiss, David S. Stress Fractures in Dancers: Evaluation and Treatment. A webinar through the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries. Accessed November 11, 2018.
Looking and performing your best for auditions should not involve suffering or engaging in crash diets. Obtaining ideal body composition may require you to be more aware of the quality and quantity of your food choices as well as the intensity of your training regimen.
Some simple suggestions for staying lean include:
Remember, don’t be intimidated by other dancers or their bodies - focus on doing your best and shining in areas you excel at! Allow nutrition to help fuel you during the audition season - you need adequate food fuel to provide energy, build strength, and maintain a healthy immune system.
Strength, precision, and artistry set you apart at an audition. Optimal nourishment and rest is important. Audition at your best by staying in peak shape with these helpful tips.
Before audition day:
Skills to focus on during your audition:
Koutedakis, Y. (2000). " Burnout” in Dance: the physiological viewpoint.
Koutedakis, Y., & Jamurtas, A. (2004). The dancer as a performing athlete. Sports Medicine, 34(10), 651-661.
Homemade chicken noodle soup made in the crock pot for a set-it-and-forget-it easy dinner. You can evan prep all the ingredients ahead of time and store them in the freezer to pull out on a day where you forgot to plan dinner. Just make sure you thaw the ingredients before adding it to the slow cooker to prevent it from staying at an unsafe temperature for too long.
8 ounces whole-wheat egg noodles or other whole-wheat noodles
3 pounds bone-in chicken breast, skin removed
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrot
1 cup chopped celery
2 sprigs thyme
8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups frozen peas
¼ cup chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons lemon juice
The adolescent dancer faces unique challenges due to physical and emotional changes that occur during pubertal development. Rapid growth periods can lead to reduced strength, impaired balance, and decreased flexibility, which can alter technical ability and increase the risk of injury.
Growth spurts in dancers usually occur between the ages 11-15 in girls and 13-17 in boys, and can last up to two years (IADMS 2000). As height increases, weight gain also occurs. A girl’s menstrual cycle begins during these growth phases and is essential for formation of bone. The pressure to stay thin during periods of weight gain in addition to being unaware of/ignoring nutritional needs results in an energy deficit and increases the likelihood of irregular periods (Delegate 2018). Bones grow at a faster rate than muscles and tendons, and limbs grow at a faster rate than the trunk. This affects strength, flexibility, and balance control in dancers. These changes can make movement feel awkward and may affect your ability to perform at the level that you are used to. Don’t be discouraged, these changes are temporary!
The injury rate increases by 35% as dancers reach ages 14-16. Body regions most commonly affected are the foot/ankle, lumbar spine, hips, and knees (Steinberg 2012, Delegate 2018).
Common injury types in adolescents:
REDUCING INJURY RISK DURING GROWTH CHANGES:
1)Education Committee (Kathryn Daniels, Chair). International Association for Dance Medicine & Science. November 2000 https://www.iadms.org/page/1
2) Delegete, A. Health Considerations for the Adolescent Dancer. A webinar through the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries. Accessed September 23, 2018.
3) Steinberg, N., Siev-Ner, I., Peleg, S., Dar, G., Masharawi, Y., Zeev, A., & Hershkovitz, I. (2012). Extrinsic and intrinsic risk factors associated with injuries in young dancers aged 8–16 years. Journal of sports sciences, 30(5), 485-495.
4) Steinberg, N., Siev-Ner, I., Peleg, S., Dar, G., Masharawi, Y., Zeev, A., & Hershkovitz, I. (2013). Injuries in female dancers aged 8 to 16 years. Journal of athletic training, 48(1), 118-123.
The immune system provides protection from seasonal illness such as the common cold as well as other health problems including arthritis, allergies, abnormal cell development and cancers. Dancers are exposed to physical stress from training, which increases susceptibility to illness. Additionally, working in close proximity with other dancers increases exposure to infection. Nutrition plays an important role in maintaining immune function to protect against infection. Learn how to boost your immunity by including these nutrients in your eating plan.
Proteins form many immune cells and transporters. Try to consume a variety of protein foods including seafood, lean meat, poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products and unsalted nuts and seeds.
Vitamin A helps regulate immune function and protects from infections by maintaining healthy tissues in skin, mouth, stomach, intestines and respiratory system. Vitamin A is found in foods such as sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, spinach, red bell peppers, apricots, eggs or foods labeled "vitamin A fortified," such as cereal or dairy foods.
Vitamin E works as an antioxidant to neutralize free radicals. Include vitamin E in your diet with fortified cereals, sunflower seeds, almonds, vegetable oils (such as sunflower or safflower oil), hazelnuts and peanut butter.
Vitamin C protects stimulates the formation of antibodies, which are necessary to fight infection. Citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit and tangerines, red bell pepper, papaya, strawberries, and tomato juice are good sources of vitamin C.
Zinc is critical for wound healing and aids the immune system. This mineral can be found in lean meat, poultry, seafood, milk, whole grain products, beans, seeds and nuts.
Other nutrients, including vitamin B6, folate, selenium, iron, as well as prebiotics and probiotics, may also influence immune response.
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (2017). Protect Your Health with Immune-Boosting Nutrition. Retrieved at eatright.org.