Do not force-feed yourself!
Deciding what to eat before your Irish dancing performances can be a tricky situation for some dancers. When reading this blog you must take into account that everybody is different. Some dancers like to feel full before they go on stage, some like to feel light, some prefer to eat solid foods and some prefer liquids. When deciding what foods to eat, make sure that you try them prior to competition day to avoid stomach disturbances (before dance class for example). Your first meal of the day (if you are dancing in the morning) should be consumed 2-4 hours before your performance, followed up by a small snack if needed. Again, not everyone is the same. There are a lot of dancers, who just don’t feel like eating at all before their performance. As a parent or a teacher, this does not mean that you panic and try to force feed him/her thinking it will benefit them. Force feeding yourself when you don’t feel like eating can result in stomach disturbances which we have all witnessed side staged or even on stage! Let me explain why this happens… when you are nervous before your performance, your body becomes stressed. Your body does not manage stress and digest food simultaneously. So, depending on how stressed the body actual is, this can shut down your digestive system, leaving food sitting in your gut un-metabolized. Yes, I know it’s not a nice feeling! If you are one of these people, then it is important that you make sure that you follow a good diet the day before a competition.
Your pre-competition meal
Your main focus when deciding what to have for a pre-competition meal should be to prevent hunger and to avoid unnecessary fats and fibre. Carbohydrates and simple sugars are your main focus but must be consumed at the right time. This is the only day that carbohydrates and simple sugars will be on your side. Here are some samples for you to choose from:
Meal 1: Lean Meat Salad Sandwich & a 1/3 of a Banana
This is a good choice when you need a pre-match meal on the move. The bread (multigrain) is a source of carbohydrates and by including salad and a bit of lean meat you can get additional nutrition. The banana will add to your feeling of fullness and add some extra carbs – don’t eat a full banana.
Meal 2: Potato and Sweetcorn
The potato is a classic source of carbohydrates and the tuna not only adds flavour but also some protein. The sweetcorn adds a few further carbs and also includes vitamins and minerals.
Meal 3: Porridge with Honey
If you have a very early start, this will do. This meal will give you long-lasting energy and will also make you feel full. The honey is a great additive for extra carbs. If you wish to add extra berries, seeds, dried fruit etc for extra nutrition you can do so.
Snacks between dances
Nutrition between dances is all about restoring hydration, lost electrolytes and muscle glycogen with
high GI carbohydrates. Depending on how much time you have between rounds, you should focus on small snacks which will prevent hunger and keep glycogen levels topped up. Again the focus is hydration and carbohydrates.
- Watermelon, Pineapple, Raisins, Banana, Mango, Low-fat yoghurt, Dried fruit and drink plenty of water.
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Thank you for reading as always.
Peter O’ Grady
No.1 Irish Dance Blogger Worldwide
Top 50 Best Dance Blogger Worldwide 2017 & 2018 (29th)
The Author and creator of Upping Your Step. A training book and DVD for Irish dancing.
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