No matter how seasoned of a dancer you are, there is always a chance for pre-performance jitters. For some people, this might mean a change in your normal eating habits – for better or for worse. Or, you might have certain rituals, nutrition-wise, that are actually hurting your level of performance, and you don’t even know it! Here are some things to keep in mind pre-performance to assure that you are putting out the best show possible!
DON’T go on stage with an empty stomach. You might be nervous and not hungry, but it will only hurt you in the long run. It’s science – your body needs fuel from somewhere, so you have to consume some sort of calories. If your body doesn’t find calories to burn, it will burn through muscle. Yuck, no one wants that.
DO snack on something without salt so that you don’t feel “puffy!” Unsalted nuts like walnuts or cashews are yummy, and water-dense fruit like kiwi or citrus are a wonderful option as well.
DON’T eat too close to show time. This might take a little time, consideration, and planning, but in the long run it’s worth it. If you go all day before eating, you have a higher chance of over-eating when you finally get the time, and then might take the stage feeling overly full or bloated.
DO pack small snacks/meals to sprinkle in throughout the day as you have time. Ideally your last meal would be about two hours before curtain. This way you will be satisfied but not stuffed, and you will have enough energy to put on a great show.
DON’T over-caffinate. Energy drinks are just plain bad for you and should be avoided as much as possible. Even in regards to coffee, don’t guzzle down a cup right before the performance. You might get jittery on stage, and this could cause mistakes or injury.
DO treat yourself to one or two cups of black coffee or tea per day! Black coffee is loaded with antioxidants that are super good for you. The caffeine also helps your muscles work harder and longer! (This “do” turns into a “don’t” if you load your coffee with cream and sugar though, sorry.)
Here are a few great pre-performance meal suggestions:
- Baked sweet potato topped with plain greek yogurt
- Quinoa with strawberries and slivered almonds
- Brown rice with a light soy or teriyaki sauce and steamed veggies
- Whole wheat pasta with a light tomato sauce and zucchini
If you just have time for a snack, try these:
- Low fat cheese and whole wheat crackers
- Cottage cheese with pineapple
- Avocado on toast with a little salt and pepper
- Almond butter and apples
Remember that the more prepared you are with your meal and snack options, the less likely you are to make a choice you will regret later. Also, you will be guaranteed to have access to the right fuel for your body to give you very best performance! And, as you know, drink water. Lots and lots of water.