Your Body

Good Foods Gone Bad

Do you think that bread, pretzels and yogurt fit nicely into a healthy diet? Think again. Although they’re low in fat, these foods possess questionable nutritional value. Some are processed and refined, while others lack water and volume—talk about setting yourself up for chronic hunger and energy lows! Here are eight foods that may be counteracting your efforts to become a lean, mean, dancing machine—and some healthful alternatives. (And turn to p. 60 for a list of 10 mighty foods to add to your diet!)

1. White Bread

  • The Dilemma: It’s doughy, low in fat and high in carbs. What more could you ask for? A lot! White bread has refined written all over it, which means that it will give you a quick energy high followed by a hankering for another carb-loading food. It’s also empty of beneficial proteins, fiber, vitamins and minerals.

  • The Solution: Choose 100-percent whole-grain bread, cereal and crackers, which will give you energy for hours on end!

2. Bagels

  • The Dilemma: They’re quick, easy and portable. But these days, bagels are the size of flotation devices, which means they pack in some serious calories, and their lack of fat and protein give these lifesavers minimal staying power. Can you say mid-morning slump?

  • The Solution: Choose half a whole-grain bagel (rich in protein and fiber), and top it with peanut butter, hummus or low-fat cottage cheese.

3. Cereal Bars

  • The Dilemma: Cereal bars are an easy grab-and-go item, but nutritionally, most cereal bars are duds. (Imagine a slice of white bread with a smear of sugar-laden jam minus the whole grains, milk and fresh fruit that come in a bowl of cereal.)

  • The Solution: Make your own trail mix with whole-grain cereal, nuts, seeds and dried fruit, and portion it into small sandwich bags for easy portability! This snack is high in protein and heart-healthy fats and fiber and tastes delicious.

4. Energy Bars

  • The Dilemma: They’re easy to carry in your dance bag and give you the boost you need before class, right? Unfortunately, most energy bars have a nutritional profile that matches that of the standard candy bar.

  • The Solution: Choose a bar that is sweetened with fruit juice, contains oats, nuts and dried fruit, is free of hydrogenated or palm kernel oils and is made of whole-grain carbs—and eat it with fruit, yogurt and water.

5. Pretzels

  • The Dilemma: Pretzels may be low in fat, but they are downright dry, and dry foods don’t satisfy your appetite.

  • The Solution: Choose foods with a high water content—fruits, veggies, yogurt and cooked grains (think oatmeal). Or, pair low-fat dry foods with wet foods to enhance meal satisfaction.

6. Low-Fat & Non-Fat Baked Goods

  • The Dilemma: Think you’re being good by choosing the low-fat version of your favorite cupcake? Not only are many low-fat baked goods dry, they’re also packed with sugar and have nearly as many calories as their full-fat versions.

  • The Solution: Eat the real thing! Savor the taste of a homemade chocolate chip cookie, but practice portion control and pair your treat with low-fat milk.

7. Yogurt

  • The Dilemma: Your favorite yogurt—meant to be a calcium- and protein-packed snack—may be totally sugar-laden. Many flavored yogurts contain up to 11 teaspoons of sugar in each eight-ounce serving—more than is found in a 12-ounce can of soda!

  • The Solution: Opt for plain yogurt topped with fresh fruit and low-fat granola.

8. Soup

  • The Dilemma: Chicken soup has been touted as a cure-all for the common cold, but when it comes from a can, it’s not as healthy as you think. Many canned soups contain 1,000 mg of sodium per cup—that’s almost half of the recommended daily value for sodium—and only a tablespoon or two of salt-laden veggies.

  • The Solution: Ask the cook of the house to save the carcass from the rotisserie chicken you chowed the other night to make your own broth, or use low-sodium broth to make your own soup and add tons of veggies. Or, choose brands like Healthy Choice and Campbell’s Healthy Request.

The Bottom Line

Seek out foods that are close to their original form—fruits, veggies, dairy products and whole grains. The longer the list of ingredients on a can of soup or box of crackers, the more processed the food is. If the ingredients sound like chemicals from second-period science, the food has been seriously tinkered with. The healthiest foods are those that are the least refined and have the shortest ingredients list. Happy eating!

Angela Sterling, courtesy PNB

Mark your calendars, bunheads! On Monday, January 29th, at 2:45 PM (EST)/11:45 AM (PST), Pacific Northwest Ballet will be streaming a live rehearsal of Act II of Kent Stowell's Swan Lake.

Keep reading... Show less

Leap! National Dance Competition offers dancers of all skill levels an opportunity to showcase their talents in an event where the focus is on fun and competing is just a bonus!

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer

Getting corrections from our dance instructors is how we grow, and as students, it's important that we do our best to apply every correction right away. But sometimes—whether it's because we're in physical pain, or have a lot on our minds, or are just not paying attention—those corrections don't sink in. And from a teacher's standpoint, giving the same corrections time and time again gets old very fast. Here are 10 important corrections dance teachers are tired of giving. Take them to heart!

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer
The School at Jacob's Pillow's contemporary program auditions (photo by Karli Cadel, courtesy Jacob's Pillow)

Summer intensive auditions can be nerve-racking. A panel of directors is watching your every move, and you're not even sure if you can be seen among the hundreds of other dancers in the room. We asked five summer intensive directors for their input on how dancers can make a positive impression—and even be remembered next year.

Keep reading... Show less
Tavaris Jones dancing with the Cleveland Cavaliers' Scream Team hip-hop crew

We always love a good halftime performance. And we LIVE for halftime performances involving talented kids. (Fingers and toes crossed that Justin Timberlake follows Missy Elliott's lead and invites some fabulous littles to share his Super Bowl stage.)

So obviously, our hearts completely melted for 5-year-old Tavaris Jones. Tavaris may have just started kindergarten, but during Monday night's game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors, the Detroit native danced with the panache of a veteran pro at halftime.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer
Photo by Joe Toreno

The coolest place she's ever performed:

I'd have to say the Super Bowl. The field was so cool, and Katy Perry was right there. And there were so many eyes—definitely the most eyes I've ever performed for!

Something she's constantly working on:

My feet. I'm flat-footed, so I'm always hearing, 'Point your toes!' And I'm like, 'I am!'

Signature look:

My hair! That, and a pair of leggings with a T-shirt or tank top.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer
Photo by Travis Kelley, courtesy Kathryn Morgan

In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email for a chance to be featured!

Dear Katie,

For a long time, I was the strongest dancer at my studio. But this year there's a new girl in my class who's very talented, and my teacher's attention has definitely shifted to her. I'm trying not to feel jealous or discouraged, but it seems like my whole dance world has changed. Help!


Keep reading... Show less
Screenshot via YouTube

*suddenly feels the overpowering urge to purchase a million bottles of Pocari Sweat*

Keep reading... Show less
Dance News
Mandy Moore (photo by Lee Cherry, courtesy Bloc Agency)

In the dance world, Mandy Moore has long been a go-to name, but in 2017, the success of her choreography for La La Land made the rest of the world stop and take notice. After whirlwind seasons as choreographer and producer on both "Dancing with the Stars" and "So You Think You Can Dance," she capped off the year with two Emmy Award nominations—and her first win. Dance Magazine caught up with her to find out how she's balancing all of her dance projects.

Read more at!

Dancer to Dancer
Martha Graham Dance Company member, Marzia Memoli (photo by Sean Martin, courtesy Martin)

Marzia Memoli may be the Martha Graham Dance Company's newest dancer, but her classical lines and easy grace are already turning heads. Originally from Palermo, Italy, Memoli started studying at age 16 at the Academy of Teatro Carcano in Milan. Later, she attended the Rudra Béjart School in Lausanne, Switzerland, before heading to NYC in 2016 to join MGDC. This month, she'll perform The Rite of Spring in the Martha Graham Studio Series in NYC, and tour with the company in Florida. Read on for the dirt.

Keep reading... Show less


Want to Be on Our Cover?





Get Dance Spirit in your inbox