I have a very difficult time feeding Julian foods that give him what he needs to perform well during peak times of dance activity. In fact, I have trouble feeding him correctly even during normal rehearsals.
I know the value of giving him proteins over carbohydrates, for instance, but I’m not always around after school to feed him or bring him a snack; one all but one school day he’s picked up by someone else and gets to the studio just in time to change his clothes and start dancing. He has some descent snacks there, but he doesn’t have time to eat them. Plus, he’s allergic to peanuts, so he can’t eat most protein bars or even have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich prior to dance, so there are few foods I can send him to school with him so he has them to eat before rehearsal or class. I’m lucky to get him to eat some cheese and crackers if I pick him up or a bagel and cream cheese. These are not optimal snacks for an overly active dancer. He’s picky about what he eats, which makes it difficult to find foods he will eat.
For all these reasons, most of the time Julian eats very little so his body has almost nothing to fuel it during class.
When we are at the American Ballet Theatre Summer Intensive in New York City, where Julian works harder than usual and for more hours per day, I worry all the more about his eating habits—especially at lunch time, when I’m not around to watch what he eats. (He hates sandwiches and prefers to go out to get something to eat.) Plus, I know he needs some good snacks to get him through the six or seven hours of class, but I’m normally at a loss as to what to give him.
I have had some success, however, with feeding him Usana food products, such as the Nutrimeal drink, which he will drink if I mix it in a blender with ice in the morning. This holds him (and me—I drink them for breakfast quite often) for about three hours; he’s not hungry and he has energy.
Usana also seems to be the only company that has one energy bar—a complete meal actually—that he can eat because it has no nuts. It is made in a factory that handles nuts, but the company assures me the machinery is cleaned before hand and it is safe. So far, we’ve had no problems. These chocolate bars also hold him over (and me…I eat them whenever I have to miss a meal) for many hours and give him energy.
I’d also mention that Julian drinks Usana’s energy drink (Rev3), which are really made with athletes in mind. The Rev3 drink has less sugar than most and is made with green tea, which is full of antioxidants, and B vitamins, which your body needs when it is being asked to do lots of exercise. Basically, the drink feeds your cells.
On that note, I’ve asked Dr. Karen Wolfe back again to explain what our dancin’ boys (and girls) bodies need in terms of food to make them perform well (their bodies, that is)—and why. It’s important to understand why they need these foods. Then you’ll definitely want them to eat correctly before they dance.
Be sure you have your sons read this post and Karen’s last one. They’ll never go to rehearsal, a performance, a competition, or class without eating right or taking great supplements again—at least not if they want to perform their best.
If you recall from the last post, Dr. Wolfe is a medical doctor, author, speaker, former member of 1996 Montreal Australian Olympic Swim Training Team, and a health care consultant.
The Nutrition Needs of Serious Dancer: How to
Stay Healthy, Strong and in Peak Performance Shape (Part 1)
By Dr. Karen Wolfe, M.B.B.S. MA
Dancers who participate in aggressive workouts, numerous performances or classes, and competitions need a constant supply of the right kind of glucose to maintain energy and supply the cells with the nutrition they need.
Dancers, and most competitive athletes, have been encouraged to consume what is referred to as high-glycemic carbohydrates, such as spaghetti, in an attempt to maximize energy levels. (This also is called and glucose loading.) However, the medical literature now shows us that when you spike your blood sugar levels by consuming these high-glycemic carbohydrates it can hinder performance.
Blood sugars drop as fast as they went up and can go into the hypoglycemic levels. This happens especially when you are involved in an aggressive workout or competition. The low blood sugar levels then stimulate the release of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. When that happens, you have created a situation that you, as a dancer, desperately wanted to avoid. These hormones are known as the catabolic, or destructive, hormones. They actually cause a decrease in your muscle function and slow recovery from athletic activity.
The way to prevent this from happening is to actually consume what is referred to as low-glycemic carbohydrates along with good protein and good fat about 30 minutes prior to a rehearsal, performance or competition. While there are many products on the market, a good option is the well-balanced nutritional Usana Nutrimeal drink, which you can find on bit.ly/UsanaNinaAmir. This contains these good low-glycemic carbohydrates, good fats, and good proteins. With these shakes, your blood sugar will slowly increase as you modestly increase your insulin levels. Your blood sugar will remain in the competitive zone for a much greater time. Your insulin levels will be stimulated but not over stimulated. Therefore, your blood sugars will not drop into the hypoglycemic or low blood sugar range. This is the key to supplying a steady supply of glucose to the cell for optimum performance and recovery after rehearsal or performance.
Here’s the bottom line: To be a winner or the best athlete or performer you can be, you have to give your body the right foods and nutritional supplements. It makes all the difference in the world.
If you want to contact Dr. Wolfe with questions, you can do so here:
Please be sure to mention that you read her blog post here!