Science Fuels Art: Building Your Plate to Build Your Stamina

New York, New York, it’s a crazy town. How does the young dancer/Broadway bound performer
manage long days of classes, rehearsals, part time jobs, casting calls, agents, auditions and still find time
to eat and fuel themselves in the best possible way?
Build your plate and build your stamina. You are a calorie burning machine. Your brain, nervous system
and working muscles need fuel 24/7. Grocery shopping and meal prep as well as planning and
visualizing your day can make or break the whole deal.
The Power of the Plate
Visualize your plate: half should include some veggie and/or fruit, ¼ of the plate should include some
starchy carbohydrate such as pasta, potato, bread or grain, and ¼ of the plate some protein such as lean
red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, soy, beans, nuts, dairy. Top it off with some olive oil, salad dressing or
sesame tahini and you have the magic combination that provides mental and physical focus as well as
stamina and strength. Carbohydrates such as grains, fruits and veggies give your muscles, brain and
nervous system the gasoline that powers physical tasks like dancing, working, singing, performing and
living. Proteins help you balance your blood sugar to provide even and lasting energy to do the tasks
that make up living as well as what you need to repair muscles that break down. Fats provide energy,
flavor and satiety that keep you going as well as helping you absorb nutrients to keep you healthy.
Do some basic food shopping or plan a grocery delivery on a low stress day, perhaps a Sunday
afternoon. Keep things simple: purchase options for your 3 macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins
and fats. That might mean getting some quick cooking grains like couscous, some cereals, breads, pasta
and potatoes as well as some fruits and veggies that can easily be carted in a lunch box or dance bag.
Proteins can include canned tuna and salmon, sliced turkey or chicken, eggs, cheese, yogurt, peanut
butter, beans, lentils, or tofu. Fats might include some olive oil or sesame oil, avocados, salad dressings
or butter. Once you have the basic food groups, the key to fueling yourself is to have all 3 each time you
eat. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Think big picture.
Meal Prep
As an example of meal prep, when you are home on a lighter dance/performing day, you can use a sheet
pan lined with foil to cook an entire meal: salmon filets, green beans and carrots, sliced roasted
potatoes drizzled with olive oil and your favorite herbs baked at 400 degrees. Make enough for two or 3
meals, and bring some lunch or dinner with you to help you through the day. Browse some simple
recipes and develop 2 or 3 as your “go to” choices when you are tired and don’t want to have to make a
decision about what to eat. Cook once eat twice!
Look Into the Future
If you plan your day you will also scope out the convenient places to pick up a snack or salad or
sandwich to keep your energy going. All it takes is putting your plan into your date book or phone,
which will take the pressure off of last minute decisions.

Don’t leave home without a few snacks: pretzels, string cheese, baby carrots, raisins and nuts, fresh
fruit, yogurt, hummus and crackers, water or juice or homemade herbal tea. Remember that our energy
usually needs refueling every 4 hours or so, so plan accordingly. Allowing your blood sugar to drop
means a drop in your ability to dance, sing, act, work and live!!
Get the Right Help
If you are struggling with knowing what is right for you given your particular lifestyle challenges, I
encourage you to reach out to a registered dietitian who can help you organize your days, your finances,
and your time to land that Broadway show or that position in that wonderful modern dance company
taking New York by storm! Nourish yourselves simply and let the science behind nutrition help you fuel your art.