As an ex-dance myself I’m fully aware of the physical and mental demands of show day. There’re a highlight for any dancer but can be long and exhausting for all involved.

So here are some top tips to keep you, and your students, fuelled so you can perform at your best.

1. Hydration

The most important part of being at your best on show day is to keep hydrated from the moment you wake up. Sipping fluids little and often throughout the whole day is the best strategy. The best options are plain water, diluted fruit juices, or herbal teas (camomile) for the teachers to keep them calm! Avoiding sugary fizzy drinks is a must because not only will the colours in these drinks be very hazardous to costumes, but also, sugar is an ‘anti-nutrient’ which may give you a temporary high but longer term will actually zap vital nutrients and energy from your body.

2. Best Times to Eat

Aim to have breakfast at least 3-4 hours before the main event (if it’s an afternoon show) then eat little and often throughout the day to avoid any digestive upset when the nerves kick in. Finally, aim to refuel and replace carbohydrate stores within 2 hours of finishing the show!

3. Breakfast

Ensure you start the day with a well balanced breakfast. This can help to maintain stamina and keep you satisfied for the whole day. An ideal breakfast consists of three elements: at least one portion of fruit or veg, some wholegrain carbohydrates and a protein source. This is a very versatile combination and examples would include: porridge with blueberries and pumpkin seeds, or scrambled egg and grilled tomato on wholewheat muffin, or almond butter and sliced banana on rye bread toast.


4. Packed Lunch

A great example of a packed lunch on show day would be wholewheat couscous or quinoa with some lean protein like chicken or tuna, along with some vegetables and healthy fats, which support joint health. For example make a dressing out of flax seed oil mixed with lemon juice, a pinch of mustard powder and any fresh herbs you fancy to liven it up. Try to avoid any foods that might cause bloating on show day, like white bread or too many pulses, i.e. beans and lentils.

5. Show Snacks

If nerves are affecting appetites, don’t stave yourself! Try to eat small and regular snacks. Homemade nutty flapjacks (sweetened naturally with dried fruit) are great energy providers, or cubes of cheese with apple and celery or cherry tomatoes and olives, can boost your fruit and veg intake whilst adding a protein punch!

6. After Show Meal

After prolonged and high-intensity exercise, refuelling glycogen (carbohydrate stores) is the primary goal. Healthy homemade pizza would be a great option, using a wholewheat tortilla base along with toppings such as feta, spinach and pine nuts or prawns, pineapple and sweetcorn.

If the adults want to reward their efforts with alcohol, try to drink in moderation to avoid dehydration and toxic effects. Red wine is generally considered the healthiest type of alcohol due to an anti-oxidant called resveratrol, which some studies suggest may have slight benefits to cardiovascular health.

For those more calorie conscious, the best option is always a clear spirit with a low calorie mixer e.g. vodka and soda water with a dash of fresh fruit juice.

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