You wouldn’t step onstage to perform a ballet without ever having had a rehearsal. Nor would you show up to an audition without preregistering, or pick a pair of pointe shoes at random and hope they fit. In dance, preparation and careful planning play a role in your success. So shouldn’t the same idea apply to your how you’re fueling your body?
According to research published in the American Marketing Association journal this summer, planning your meals ahead of time—instead of waiting to decide what you’ll eat when you’re ready to chow down—can actually lead to healthier choices. Why? It has to do with will power. The research team from Carnegie Mellon University asserted that people have more self-control when they’re making decisions about their future. If you go grocery shopping on the weekend and pack your lunches for the week several days in advance, your meals will likely have fewer calories, without you even consciously aiming to choose a “healthy” lunch. On the flip side, if you leave a stressful rehearsal and are starving, your choice will be more about the immediate taste of the food (“I. want. pizza. Now!”) and less about how nutritious the food is and how you’ll feel dancing on a stomach full of greasy pizza later.
When you think about it, the idea of meal planning is a no-brainer. You owe it to your body to make sure you’re getting enough protein, healthy fats and carbs to keep you dancing strong. If you’re looking for dining inspiration, check out our monthly column called “What Dancers Eat” for recipes, tips and more. We’re always curious about the pros’ unique approaches to nutrition. From home cooking on tour to go-to studio snacks, we cover it all.