Making You Hungry, Healthy, and Happy One Pirouette At A Time

Importance of Nutrition for Dancers: Survey of Dancers Diet Regimens

In my last blog post, I discussed what I typically eat in a day during a rehearsal day, pre-COVID times. That being said, writing that post made me wonder what other dancers’ diet regimes were like in comparison and what better way to find out this kind of information than by making a survey!

I made this survey open to dancers of all ages, genders, and also levels (professional and pre-professional) to compare and contrast the differences and similarities in dancers’ diets. While the main goal I was hoping to achieve in this survey was to get various types of responses, I was surprised to discover some unexpected results as well.


Question #1: How Many Times Do You Eat in a Day?
After analyzing the results:

  • 0 people ate once a day
  • 3 people ate twice a day
  • 12 people ate three times a day
  • 10 people ate four times a day
  • 15 people ate five or more times a day


Question #2: Do You Eat Breakfast?

After analyzing the results:

4 people do not eat breakfast

36 people do eat breakfast and of the people that do eat breakfast…

  • 7 people ate yogurt
  • 12 people ate oatmeal
  • 11 people ate eggs
  • 8 people drank coffee with their breakfast
  • 4 people had smoothies/smoothie bowls
  • 19 people had fruit with their breakfast
  • 7 people had toast, a bagel, or an English muffin with breakfast
  • 11 people had nuts/nut butter with their breakfast.


Question #3: Which Eating Style Do You Prefer?
After analyzing the results:

  • 7 people eat many small meals per day
  • 6 people eat a few large meals a day
  • 27 people eat somewhere in between


Question #4: Do You Have Any Food Restrictions?

After analyzing the results:

17 people did not have food restrictions

23 people did have food restrictions and I learned that, of those surveyed…

  • 9 people are vegan
  • 6 people do not consume dairy
  • 8 people do not eat gluten
  • 5 people are pescatarian (don’t eat meat but do eat fish)
  • 3 people are vegetarian

Other food restrictions people had included nixing or limiting processed sugars, onion, garlic, and soy.


Question #5: Do You Have Any Food Allergies?

After analyzing the results:

30 people did not have food allergies

10 people did have food allergies and of those allergies…

  • 4 people are allergic to gluten
  • 5 people are lactose intolerant (allergic to dairy)
  • 4 people are allergic to nuts (almonds and peanuts especially)

Other food allergies people had include shellfish, soy, and sesame.


Question #6: Have You Made Any Changes or Adjustments to Your Diet Over the Years?

After analyzing the results:

2 people have not made any dietary changes/adjustments

38 people have made changes/adjustments to their diet and almost all of them were made because of dancing and the remaining were for health or personal reasons.

Some changes dancers made include:

  • becoming fully vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, or paleo (for various different reasons)
  • changing parts of their diet because they started to dance more seriously
  • cutting out red meat, fried foods, dairy, and/or gluten
  • switching to a higher protein diet focusing on vegetables
  • eating more to provide their body with fuel
  • eating smaller portions/meals more often
  • watching their calorie and macro intake
  • focusing on eating more vegetables and fruits and having a variety of them
  • focusing on complex vs. simple carbs (slow vs. fast-digesting starches)
  • cutting out processed foods and switching to eating whole, unprocessed foods
  • switching out dairy milk to oat milk to decrease inflammation
  • stop eating things that bloat them
  • paying more attention to when and how much they eat for meals


Question #7: Do You Eat Differently During a Dancing Day vs. a Non-Dancing Day?

After analyzing the results:

14 people do not eat differently

26 people do eat differently…

  • 11 people eat more on dancing days
  • 5 people eat less on dancing days

7 peoples’ eating habits are more flexible and less strict when they’re not dancing/on days off.


Question #8: Do You Prefer to Cook Your Meals or Eat Out/Get Take-Out?

After analyzing the results:

  • 24 people prefer to cook their own meals
  • 15 people rotate between home-cooked and take-out meals
  • 1 person usually chooses to eat out
  • 3 people stated that they eat out for social reasons or for pure fun and enjoyment


Question #9: Do You Take Any Supplements?

After analyzing the results:

9 people do not take supplements

31 people do take supplements…

  • 14 people take a multivitamin
  • 9 people take magnesium
  • 8 people take calcium
  • 6 people take a probiotic
  • 7 people take vitamin D
  • 6 people take vitamin B12 (essential if you don’t eat meat)

Other supplements people take include Vitamins A, B, C, and K, Turmeric, Iron, Zinc, and Potassium.


Question #10: What is your current perspective on nutrition and health in regard to being a dancer?

I received so many great responses for this last question and as much as I wish I could share every single respondent I don’t think anyone has the patience to read through each one (even though I did).

But for those that do, feel free to read some of the highlights ;^)

  • “Healthy balanced diets with food freedom.”
  • “What you eat will help to sustain you throughout your day and keep you healthy and uninjured, as well as maintaining muscular strength.”
  • “Overall health is extremely beneficial to all aspects of life, especially as high performing athletes.”
  • “Not every dancer or person is going to feel the same or look the same from being on the same diet… it takes a lot of trial and error and patience.”
  • “Too much restriction will make you feel too down, a good balance is key.”
  • “…Diet Culture is extremely dangerous and the ‘perfect ballerina’ body is dangerous to many folks whose bodies are unable to fit the standard. I believe a strong body is most beautiful and think each person should be attentive to their personal body needs.”
  • “Everyone’s body is different and needs different things. Our bodies change drastically from our teen years, early 20’s and later, that all needs to be taken into account.”
  • “Food should nourish your body and mind in a way that is enjoyable and also fuels your performance, but should not be fixated on or obsessed over.”
  • “Nutrition is key! Fuels your performance and makes you feel good mentally and physically.”
  • “…For some people dance enhances and improves their nutrition and health because of the awareness developed.”
  • “I’ve managed to find a routine that works for my body and gives me energy while not being too much. It was definitely difficult to find that balance though…”
  • “I believe proper nutrition is absolutely essential for reaching my full potential as a dancer. I also really wish that dancers were better educated on how diverse people’s nutritional needs can be.”
  • “Dancing requires so much energy that I need to nourish my body properly to continue performing at my best. When I under-fuel or fuel improperly, my dancing suffers, so it is something I have to be conscious of… sometimes I have to also eat to nourish my spirit, and that is important to remember.”
  • “…making sure dancers get all the most important nutrients so they can train their hardest and make the most of each rehearsal/performance.”
  • “I think that being healthy should be the goal – not being super thin… I’ve become a much better dancer and a happier person since eating an appropriate amount and giving my body what it needs… mental and physical health is also so important!”
  • “I think eating healthy is super important for ballet so that my body can get plenty of nutrients. I make sure to eat enough so that I have plenty of energy throughout the day.”
  • “…dancers need diets that properly fuel and satisfy them… there is no one ‘dancer diet, everyone is different and that’s okay.”
  • “I want to feel my best, so I need to eat my best.”
  • “Eat enough so you have the energy to get through the day but when you can eat healthy foods that will give you good fuel!”
  • “Crucial, but it shouldn’t always be on your mind – dancing is the priority!”
  • “Finding what works for your body and what helps you dance at your peak is the most important thing.”
  • “…it’s very personal to the person and that everyone is on their own journey to find what’s right for them.”
  • “…listening to your body and seeing what works for you/gives you ample energy is the most important for dancers.”
  • “…proper nutrition and adequate intake are necessary for a happy and healthy dancer.”
  • “I’ve restricted before and I know now how it leads to injuries, stress fractures, etc. It is so important to eat balanced meals to have proper energy and support the stress we put on our bodies.”
  • “Finding a diet that works for YOU! Not being pressured to eliminate foods if it works great for you! What works for one person may not work for someone else!”
  • “I am finally coming out of a bad relationship with food and learning I need to fuel my body with all kinds of food to stay healthy and strong…My current perspective on health/nutrition for dancers is that we need to be educated properly about how to fuel our bodies correctly. For me, that’s making sure I’m not restricting myself of the calories and nutrients I need and giving my body healthy nutritious foods.”


Therefore, what I hope dancers can take away from this post is that they are not alone and that pretty much every dancer has struggled with their eating habits at least once in their life. It was also interesting for me to see how many of my own habits and thoughts about eating were similar to so many other dancers as well. This just comes to show that we all are continuing to learn more about ourselves to help us find what foods, diets, and eating styles work best for our own bodies.

TTG <3


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