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Food, Glorious Food!

Competition season is upon us again, and dance parents everywhere are asking the same question: how do I make sure my dancer stays healthy?


One answer is to provide nutritious foods that pack enough energy to last all rehearsal. Here are some of our suggestions.


Snacks On the Go

  • Dried fruit! The best thing about it is that it travels well. It won’t bruise, and it won’t take up much room in a dance bag or suitcase. We recommend dried mangoes, apricots, or cranberries.


  • Healthy Chip Alternatives

 Instead of salty carbs that burn quickly and dehydrate your dancer, try banana chips or toasted coconut slices.

Bonus: coconut reduces the amount of “bad” cholesterol in the body by breaking it down into healthy cholesterol!


Post-Workout Protein

 Immediately after rehearsal, it’s a good idea to consume protein to replace the reserves you’ve just used up. However, some dancers find it difficult to eat dry or heavy foods after a long day.

Solution: chocolate milk. Milk packs a lot of protein, and it can be purchased in small packages that are easy to transport. Plus, a bit of sugar helps boost your energy!

Lactose intolerant? Try adding protein powder to nut milk. Make sure to do your research and choose a protein powder that’s best for you. Read the labels and avoid excessive chemicals or added sugars.


Meal Prep

Your meals should be carb and protein-rich. On dance-heavy days, intersperse your meals with lots of snacks. Having a constant energy source means a better performance.

Note: plant-based protein sources can take longer to break down in your body, and can therefore lend a little more energy over time. Plus, plant-based protein doesn’t contain saturated fat!


Here are some of our suggestions:


Oatmeal. This lighter meal won’t sit uncomfortably in your stomach, and oats are a fantastic source of protein. Try serving with banana slices, a tablespoon of almond butter (or chopped nuts) and a dash of brown sugar.


Combine protein with carbs. A few suggestions: Tuna and whole wheat or quinoa-based bread. Hummus and broccoli. Sautéed kale with brown rice or quinoa (pro tip: this can be made with frozen kale, and only takes about fifteen minutes to prepare)!


To make a complete protein, pair legumes with grains. Doing this will give your dancer the fuel she needs to stay healthy and heal while she sleeps.

One classic complete protein? Black beans and brown rice. Add toppings such as salsa, cheese, avocado, or corn. This is delicious, cheap, and super easy to make!


Homemade Snacks for Dancers with Extra Time

If you have some time to spend in the kitchen, try making these healthy, delicious snacks to take with you to the studio.


  • Granola Bars

There are a million granola bars on the market, but the great thing about making your own is that they’re cheaper and customizable!

The basic concept? Combine dry ingredients with wet ingredients to make a sticky bar, and bake in the oven for a short time.

We suggest oats, chopped nuts, and flax seeds or chia seeds. Combine these with coconut oil, dates (or a date alternative) and honey or agave!


  • Peanut Butter Power Bites

 Mix together peanut butter, coconut oil, honey or dates, chocolate chips, and chia seeds. Roll into small balls and refrigerate.

These snacks pack a powerful punch, and they’ll get you through many eight-hour dance days!


Have a favorite snack or recipe for your long dance days? Share it with us on social media!


Elizabeth Shew is a Portland, OR native and a New York-based dancer, writer, and creator. She is a graduate of The Ailey School and Fordham University and holds BFAs in Dance and English/Creative Writing. She has danced for choreographers Cindy Salgado, Jae Man Joo, Brice Mousset, Christopher Huggins and Taryn Kaschock Russell, among others. Recently, she participated in Cherice and Charissa Barton’s summer program, Axis Connect, and performed alongside the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in their annual piece Memoria. She is a current apprentice with BodyStories: Teresa Fellion Dance.

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