Summer is in full swing here at LAAC and as we finish up our second weeks of dance camps we would like to share some info from our nutrition and health sessions with our dance campers! 

A Healthy Dancer is a Happy Dancer!

Good nutrition can make a tremendous difference in performance, muscle strength, balance, fatigue, and injury rates. Understanding the demands of a dancer is the first step in improving performance, achieving a strong healthy weight, and reducing injuries.

Eat less meat, and more vegetables:

More and more studies are showing that red meat and bacon aren't so great for you (yes, it sucks, get over it), while vegetables are good for your heart, promote weight loss, help you poop, and so on. An easy way to start eating more plants is to follow a meatless Monday schedule, says registered dietitian Emily Harrison -- that means just one day a week without meat. Which you can certainly do. Cuisines that pack in the flavor, like Mexican and Indian, can help satisfy your palate, sans animals.

Limit packaged foods, and read labels carefully when you can't:

Packaged and processed foods are convenient, but that convenience comes at a cost, usually in the form of a bunch of added sugar, salt, and fat. "Knowing where your food comes from and what's in it is way more important than knowing how many calories or fat it has," says Harrison. When you can, try to cook from scratch, or at least choose snacks that don't have a laundry list of ingredients.

Take it easy on the caffeine:

You don't have to give up your coffee fix. In fact, having a cup can actually enhance your mental and physical performance. But if you're guzzling down more than that -- or worse, having a sugar-loaded energy drink -- you're overdosing. "A lot of caffeinated beverages have 10 times the amount of caffeine than a cup of coffee," according to Harrison. "Jacking up the central nervous system isn't the same thing as having energy. Real energy comes from food." Instead of crushing another can of nuclear-colored sugar water, try switching to black coffee or green tea.

Put down your cellphone:

You don't need an expert to tell you that America (along with most other countries) is addicted to cellphones, but that attachment affects nearly every part of your life. Mostly, it screws up your sleep, thanks to the blue light it emits. Power down anything with a screen one hour before bed. You can set a nightly alarm on your phone -- the irony! -- to keep yourself in check.

Next up: Healthy snack choices to get dancers through long camp days!

AuthorLisa Hamor