Ask Amy: Eating on the Go

February 3, 2010

What do you eat? I never know what to eat when I have super busy days of classes and rehearsals and don’t have time for a real meal. I feel like I always end up eating a box of cereal all day or something. — Daniella, 18, NY

I have a lot of days like this, too. What I like to do is pack a variety of portable snacks to eat during my five-minute breaks. For instance, I might bring a yogurt, a banana, a hard-boiled egg, a sandwich and a granola bar and space them out over the course of the day. That way, I can eat something quickly and still keep my energy up.

Peggy Swistak, Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Nutrition Consultant, says, “The number one thing is to eat a good breakfast. When you have a heavy dance schedule, it may be the only real meal you’ll have time for all day.” She recommends your breakfast include whole grains, fruit and protein like eggs, yogurt or peanut butter on toast.

Swistak agrees that dancers on the run should keep healthy snacks on hand throughout the day. Instead of only munching on cereal, try eating a variety of foods to ensure you’re getting enough carbohydrates (which replace glycogen in the muscles) and protein (which will make you feel satisfied for a longer time). Sometimes this takes some pre-planning. Here are some foods Swistak recommends for the next time you go to the grocery store:

Fruits, Vegetables, Cheese, Pita Bread with Hummus or Bean Dip, Trail Mix, Graham Crackers, Small Cans of Tuna, Popcorn (no extra butter), Peanut Butter and Crackers, Yogurt, Soup, Hard Boiled Eggs, Nuts

Remember to drink plenty of liquids, like water, juice or milk to prevent dehydration, and to avoid sugary foods like candy and soda, which can cause blood sugar levels to spike then crash.