It’s back to dance day! Winter season is here! I can’t believe the wait is over, I feel like the ink is still drying on the record books from state, and yet here we are again. Today is all about starting off on the right foot and so we’re talking about fueling those bodies and minds that will be learning new dances starting today. I used to ignore was what exactly was going into my girls before practice, but now I’ve slowly added more and more importance on fueling your workouts and long days as it can mean the difference between healthy, happy girls and sick, injured, tired, crabby ones. (eww!) Here are some suggestions for awesome afterschool snacks:
Note: I am not a medical professional and you should always discuss major changes or issues with a qualified professional. This is not to be taken in place of a doctors advice.
The first thing to know about eating better this year is that planning is essential. If you just look around the vending machine or convenient snack packs you are missing out on vital nutrients and adding lots of salt, preservatives, and empty calories. Don’t be afraid to be using gladware, ice packs, and utensils. After all, if your snacks don’t go bad – is it really food or just a bunch of chemicals? Dancers need a blend of carbs or natural sugars, and protein pre-workout, and then protein afterward and possibly more carbs if metabolism is up and energy is low. (Always see a professional dietician if you have questions about your needs) Aim to have 30 minutes to digest if possible before dancing, or if not, keep the volume in the stomach low and the nutrient punch high to avoid those side aches.
• No sugar added fruit cups (instant grab and go)
• Sliced melon, grapes or bananas that are frozen the night before – thaws all day and is cold and juicy by snack time!
• Sliced apples (add peanut butter single cups or hummus for dipping, skip sugary fruit dip)
• Raisins or dried fruit (but watch the serving size on this – you don’t get much for the calories, but its instant natural sugar)
• Celery (raisins, peanut butter are great with this!)
• Mixed veggies with light ranch single serve cups (crunchy and portable)
• Greek yogurt is rich and creamy. Comes in great flavors and is high protein, perfect for muscle building. Add some muesli or dry cereal (watch out for high sugar/fat granolas)
• ½ C. 1% Cottage cheese and peaches (peaches from a snack cup are a perfect portion)
• String cheese
• Peanut butter on anything. PB/banana sandwiches are a great snack. Keep portions to 2Tbsp
• Protein powder shakes (put some in a blender bottle and just add water for instant muscle build for 100 calories)
• Jerky (turkey is best, beef is good too) 1oz portions in snack bag.
• (Fat Free)Tuna Salad Kits. LOVE these. Crackers, tuna with veggies and fat free mayo, includes utensils. 150 calories. Fish is excellent for you and this is a great way to get a small portion that tastes great and no need to refrigerate. I like the fat free kind from BumbleBee. (I only find these at Target though)
• Mixed nuts. Try unsalted mixed pistachios, walnuts, cashews, almond mix from Target in a big screw top jar. Keeps that sodium down and is a great price when bought in big containers.
• Protein bars. READ THE LABEL! Not all are created equal. I like low sugar <5g>
and high protein 18-25g. My favorite is the peanut butter flavor “Pure Protein” bars. Also happens to be cheap compared to a Cliff bar. (Target, Walmart)5g>
• Wheat/whole grain Pita pockets. Love these for one handed sandwiches and for keeping salads tucked in there and not make a mess. Also a slower burn than straight white bread
• Hummus. Carbs from beans are long lasting and don’t spike your blood sugar, plus comes in great flavors and travel packs. Can’t beat that. Goes in and on everything.
• Air popped popcorn – mix with craisins or chocolate chips to spice it up without adding butter or chemicals
• Homemade granola bars – see recipe here! These are amazing!
Erin’s tips and tricks:
• Freeze waters, fruits, or anything you can to keep it cold all day and ready to go by the time school is out.
• I drive to Ikea in Bloomington just to get my favorite muesli mix for yogurt. Its worth it. The orange bag only says “Good For You” and has an amazing blend of cornflake-like chips and hearty oats. You won’t miss sugary granola.
• Pre weigh and package snacks to have in a grab and go bin in the pantry. I package out jerky, nuts, protein bars, ect as soon as I bring them home from the store. Makes it easy to make a good choice and not spend money on lots of packaging. I use a food scale for most items because I track calories, not a major concern for young dancers, but a good habit to learn. Knowing what you’re putting in (which for dancers may not be enough) can help establish a healthy life-long eating plan for the future when your lifestyle might change.
• Everyone will need protein. And that doesn’t mean only meat, so no excuses. Your muscles need fuel to stay long, lean, strong, and build power and burn excess body fat turning you into a serious dancing machine with power loaded jumps and kicks. Protein powder is not a body builder’s tool anymore, and doesn’t “bulk you up” – don’t be afraid to try some.
• Listen to your body. Exercise suppresses hunger until afterward, so if you’re feeling hungry during practice, you probably didn’t eat enough before and are unable to sustain for hours of drilling. Be sure to up your food at both lunch and snack to make sure you get to the end. Hunger can also mean thirsty, so check that you’re taking in enough water all day, as well as during practice.