Can Eating Clean Make You a Better Dancer?

Thinkstock

You've seen it a million times: A glamorous, toned dancer posts a perfectly styled shot of her colorful smoothie bowl. The caption gushes about how great you'll feel if you eat "clean"—but what does that actually mean? DS asked registered dietitian/nutritionist Rachel Fine and holistic health coach (and founder of The Whole Dancer) Jess Spinner for all of the dirt.


Clean = Pristine?

"Clean eating involves stripping away the preservatives, added sugars, and sodium that go into many mass-produced, processed foods," Fine says. "When you eat clean, you're avoiding the additives that give packaged foods longer shelf lives." Spinner agrees: "Aspiring to eat clean is all about cutting out processed, chemical-laden foods from your diet. The goal of eating clean is to focus your eating plan on foods that are as close as possible to their original state. That way, they're providing optimal levels of nutrients and health-protective benefits."

If you're choosing foods and constructing your meals from minimally processed sources, you should be able to count (and pronounce!) the number of ingredients in that meal on one or two hands. "Clean eating puts the focus on whole foods, which are the foods that usually aren't packaged," Spinner says. "And when they are packaged, you'll see only ingredients you immediately recognize as food, like almonds, walnuts, and black beans."

Thinkstock

What's an example of a clean-eating choice? Grabbing a locally grown apple for that between-classes snack, instead of reaching for a bag of chips or another packaged option. "Choose foods that are literally grown in your state and are in season, like apples and stone fruits in the fall," Fine says. "Eating sustainably and locally helps to strip away the excess because you're not having to add preservatives, sodium, and sugar in order to ship."

When Clean Gets Muddy

Spinner notes that "eating whole, unprocessed, close-to-the-source foods is great to strive for, but not always easy." That's especially true if you don't make most of the food-shopping and cooking decisions at your house. Minimally processed foods should be your goal, Fine says: "Nobody can eat 100 percent clean. It's impossible because we can't always control exactly what goes into our meals and snacks. But do what you can to make better choices when you have the opportunity."

You'll often hear clean eating associated with paleo, vegan, and gluten-free diets—but you can absolutely strive to eat clean on any eating plan. "Steer clear of social media influencers or fellow dancers who try to tell you there's one specific diet that's healthiest for everyone," Spinner warns.

Thinkstock

Eating clean shouldn't ever feel restrictive, overwhelming, or like you're following a particular set of rules all the time. "Food is a very important social and cultural aspect of life," says Fine. "When you're out with your friends, or when you're enjoying a holiday dinner, you can just relax and enjoy what's being served." Occasionally treating yourself to your favorite junk foods can and should be part of a clean-eating philosophy.

A version of this story appeared in the December 2017 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "Lean, Clean, Dancing Machine?"

via YouTube

Beyoncé's choreographer + Beyoncé's dance captain + the greatest duets of our generation = dance video greatness. Yes, it may seem too good to be true, but the dance gods have gifted us with this very sequence—and it's the best thing we've seen in a long time.

Keep reading... Show less
Future Star winner Kaitlyn Chapa (photo by Rainbow Dance Media Center, courtesy Jennifer Chapa)

Dance Spirit is beyond excited to announce the first round of 2017 Future Star winners! Every year, DS partners with competitions to recognize dancers with exceptional presence and ability. The second round of winners will be featured in our January issue, so stay tuned!

Keep reading... Show less
Dance News
Photo by Erin Baiano

You're obsessed with class videos. We're obsessed with class videos. The passion, energy, and talent showcased in these clips, which give us an insider-y peek at the commercial dance world's hottest classes, are totally irresistible.

But at what point does the phenomenon go from being a good thing to a bad thing for dancers and the dance world? Is the focus on filming distracting from the work dancers are supposed to be doing in class? Are overproduced videos presenting a dangerously misleading picture of the dance world? Is the pressure to be a class video star becoming too much for dancers to handle? These are some of the questions A-list dancer and choreographer Ian Eastwood—no stranger to the class video himself—has been asking on Twitter. And they've sparked a lively, important debate.

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

It's time for a tutu test! So many iconic ballets, so many beautiful tutus. Can you figure out which ballet each of these costumes comes from?

Keep reading... Show less
Dance News
Kalani, Kendall, and Chloe (courtesy Anne Watkins)

Our favorite drama-filled, dance reality show may have ended this past fall, but "Dance Moms" stars Chloe, Kalani, and Kendall aren't about to let that end their dance careers. In fact, these dancing kweens are taking their moves to a city near you with their Irreplaceables Tour! The girls are going all out for the three-week dance production, which is taking them across the country. And these dazzling dancers aren't just content with showing off their dance skillz—they want to pass along their tips and tricks in a dance workshop where they'll lead fans in stretches and dance routines from the show.

Dance Spirit caught up with Chloe, Kalani, and Kendall to find out what they love about tour life and where they see themselves five years from now.

Keep reading... Show less
Watch This
Matthew Bourne's "Nutcracker" (photo by Simon Annand, courtesy Raw PR)

When most of us think of The Nutcracker, we imagine a growing Christmas tree, dancing mice, and a little girl named Clara (or Marie) traveling to the Land of Sweets. But companies around the world have been reinventing the holiday classic, changing the storyline or adding their own spectacular sets and characters. To get in the Nutcracker spirit this season, check out these out-of-the-box productions.

Keep reading... Show less
Watch This
Screenshot via YouTube

Shut up and take my money!

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer
Katarina leading an assisted-living class (photo by Mary Y. Jakimier, courtesy Jakimier)

Aspiring ballerina Katarina Jakimier, a Dallas, TX, native, was just 12 when Dance Spirit first featured her, highlighting the innovative pointe shoe recycling program she created in her community. Now 16, Jakimier is still studying ballet intensively—this past fall she started training at the John Cranko Schule in Stuttgart, Germany—and is still on a mission to make the world a better place. Recently, she founded the Silver Swans Ballet Program, which allows senior citizens in retirement homes to experience the magic of ballet, and to reap all of its health benefits. Here, she tells us how the initiative came to be. —Courtney Bowers

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer
courtesy Red Is Dancing

Distance, schmistance.

Keep reading... Show less

Sponsored

Want to Be on Our Cover?

covermodelsearch-image

Video

Sponsored

mailbox

Get Dance Spirit in your inbox

Sponsored