Notes From Juilliard – Dancers and Diets

A few weeks ago I participated in a terrific panel at Juilliard, moderated by Heidi Skolnik, RD with Dr. Elizabeth Manegias; Phillip Bauman, MD; and Carol Holyoke as fellow panelists. We addressed Julliard dance students on the topic of healthy nutrition in a discussion titled Dancers and Diets.

Here are a few of my key takeaways about dancers and diets.

  • As Heidi Skolnik pointed out, dancing is a wonderful, difficult, tough profession. Your body is your instrument, and you need to take good care of it.
  • Both Dr. Manegias, a physiatrist, and Dr. Bauman, an orthopedic surgeon, pointed out that physical ailments and stress fractures are more common in those with diet or nutrition problems.
  • Carol Holyoke, a physical therapist at Juilliard, pointed out how important it is, after an injury, to be kind to your body and have adequate caloric intake. Your body needs it to heal!
  • Heidi emphasized that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to diet and nutrition. Our bodies are each different. They need proper sleep as well as proper nutrition.
  • We all have a set point, the weight range our bodies fight to maintain. When you push to be at the low end of your range (or below), your body resists. And if your body is uncomfortably low, you may find yourself hyper-focused on food. This preoccupation is the mind’s natural response to not getting enough.
  • The qualities of dancers that make them so good — like focus, perfectionism, and determination — also put them at risk of developing eating disorders.
  • Be careful with diets. They tend to work in opposition to intuitive eating, which I believe is the most sustainable method of weight management.
  • If you are concerned about a friend or colleague, say something. If you are suffering, it’s far more distressing if people around you don’t make their concerns known to you.

If you or a loved one needs to seek help for an eating disorder, give us a call at (646) 414-1446 or schedule a consultation today.