One thing I do often with my dance students is to sit down and talk about mindful meal planning.
As a dancer you are constantly challenging your body’s physical capabilities. So your body needs enough nutrients from foods to repair and nourish cells and tissues. When your energy and nutrient supplies are adequate, your body can excel in performance and development.
Dancers’ nutritional needs can be more complex than non-dancers, but this doesn’t mean you need to crank up a fancy three course dinner every day. In fact, most nutritional needs can be met through quite simple meals. With good planning, you can quite easily prepare nourishing meals, save time , save money, and create an ease of mind (knowing that you have yummy food waiting for you after a long day of training).
You can also use this opportunity to build your intuitive eating skills.
While planning your meals, ask yourself:
“Is this something I’ll enjoy eating?”
“Will this be enough to refuel my body?”
“Will this meal be satisfying, or does it need extra oomph?”
Don’t let meal planning coerce you into diet-land; instead, enjoy the freedom and nourishment you get from eating enough of what your body needs.
7-step guide to meal planning mindfully to nourish your body:
Step 1: Grab a pen and paper
Step 2: Write down five dishes you’d like to eat for dinner in the coming week. (Let’s just say you’re eating out for the other two nights of the week).
*check* Do each of the meals contain enough protein-food, carbohydrate-food, and vegetables?
If yes = move to the next step.
If no = what’s missing and what can you add? Can you spare anything from the other dishes you’ve planned?
Step 3: Sort out your “prep work” and “last-minute work”.
The ‘prep work’ is any preparation you can do in advance.
For example, if you have a few dishes with rice, you can cook enough for all of them in one go and freeze in portions so the only thing you need to do on the night is to reheat the rice instead of cooking up fresh each day.
The ‘last-minute work’ is anything you need to do to complete the dish on the night.
For example, you may have planned a steak and veggies for Thursday night. You have leftover veggies and pasta from the night before, so you’re last minute work is to simply cook the steak and assemble the rest on the plate.
Step 4: Create a shopping list.
*tip* check your pantry and fridge prior to shopping – what ingredients do you already have?
*tip* don’t feel bad for utilise time-efficient products e.g. pre-cut vegetables for roasting instead of buying whole and chopping up yourself (unless you enjoy that!)
Step 5: Shop (like a dancer)
Step 6: Cook, eat and enjoy.
(please be careful when using the stove top)
Step 7: Review.
If you’re new to cooking and planning meals, then sitting down at the end of the week and reviewing what worked vs what didn’t can be very helpful.
With practice you’ll be able to whip up a nourishing meal from whatever leftovers and ingredients you have that day.
Until then, planning each meals and looking up recipes can be useful.