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Dietician recommendations for young dancer

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29 minutes ago, glissade said:

And also to suggest an alternative tracking of glycaemic index (rather than focusing on calories) in relation to blood sugar levels, which is described brilliantly in the book I referenced. 

 

Thanks for that - I don't know much about the GI technicalities, so will look for the book you recommend as it sounds very useful.

 

I know, as a middle-aged comfort eater with a sweet tooth, I have personally found that switching to more protein in my diet really helps fend off the hunger feeling (which is possibly a sugar craving!). I have come to adore Greek yoghurt which is tasty, leaves me feeling satiated (I think this is the dietician term) and keeps the protein levels up!

 

And like @Peanut68I was very slim (I think "skinny" is a better description!) and never had to think about what I ate till I was around 35 or so - oh how that carelessness has come back to bite me!

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8 minutes ago, sarahw said:

It's much harder to control/modify what kids are eating when away at school. There just aren't enough staff to supervise that type of thing adequately...

 

This is exactly the issue. Kids away at vocational school have limited choices. Yes, school food is gradually becoming more nutritious nowadays, with nutritionists brought in to advise but that doesn’t mean they like the good choices and are going to eat them, or that they can look at the lists of ingredients. Going to the shops on a Saturday is loaded with psychological stuff of freedom from school... I can buy what I like, eat what I like, which is a mentally healthy escape I think....or maybe not.

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This is such an interesting thread. As @Colman says, many of us have a more or less disordered relationship with food. 

 

But I think it's really important to see this in part as a result of the intense pressure there is on all of us as we're buying food - advertising, product placement in shops, the attractiveness of packaging and so on.

 

1 hour ago, valentina said:

Going to the shops on a Saturday is loaded with psychological stuff of freedom from school... I can buy what I like, eat what I like, which is a mentally healthy escape I think....or maybe not.

 

Again, food as something other than simply nutrition & fuel!

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I know I'm coming to this thread late but I just wanted to add an additional note to please be EXTREMELY careful how you discuss food and weight issues with your young dancers! They're staring at themselves in a mirror for hours every week, they see their friends and notice they look different, the last thing they need is any sort of indication from their parents that how they look is in some way 'wrong'. Obviously we all know not to say that someone looks fat or big or any words like that, but you'd be surprised what these kids take as a criticism of their body. Last year I had one girl in tears because a teacher told her not to grip with her thighs in a developpe because 'that's why your thighs are so big'. That same dancer still brings up her 'big' thighs a year later because one poorly phrased comment has stuck in her mind like a barb. Another girl in full time ballet training is absolutely tiny, slim build but has started to develop boobs. A simple, very normal comment about considering wearing a body stocking under her leotard led to a panic attack because 'no professional ballet dancer has to wear a body stocking under their leotard, my boobs are too big, I'll never be a ballet dancer with big boobs, maybe if I lose more weight my boobs will get smaller...' Today she told me 'I think I'm dancing better at the moment because I'm happy, and I'm happy because today I feel really skinny!' 😢

 

And finally, most tragically of all, one of the girls in my grade 8 class is currently in hospital on a 28 day psychiatric hold because she has developed anorexia... She has done so much damage to her heart from malnourishment that a few weeks ago she actually had a heart attack. She's 16. So this particular issue is particularly on my mind at the moment and I just want to stress to teachers and parents or anyone involved with a younger dancer. They know. Seriously. They know every part of their body that is different or bigger or 'not good enough' and they beat themselves up over it when you're not looking. For most of them, this will not develop into disordered eating, and I note that a full blown eating disorder is a mental illness that is about control more than about the food itself. Food is just a mechanism for control in their lives.

 

I just worry what impression our comments, about our dancers and also about ourselves, are making. I know every time I express dissatisfaction with my body, I am modelling that behaviour for those girls. Every time we talk about diets or 'good' food vs 'bad' food, we are making a value judgment about what we are using to fuel our bodies. Actually, for anyone interested I would encourage you to check out Weigh Free May, an initiative here in Australia aiming to educate people on just these sorts of issues. All I know is, when I'm in the hospital tomorrow visiting my friend, I'm going to be thinking of all the things I did or didn't do that might have contributed to this awful situation...

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That is very sad @Viv

 

Not commenting on your scenarios but I wonder if we are getting too scared to discuss weight and diet? Not just with DC but with all kids in general...

 

I know some vocational schools will not discuss weight with U16s or U18s. This puts a lot of pressure on parents who need support and advice on how to manage. Especially as they have less control over what their DC eat.

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Some good advice here! 

It is so hard when young dancers of 10, 11 ,12 years are told one thing by their parents and

then see who is selected for associate programs, summer schools and vocational schools. 

 

Society has very gradually made some impact on the modelling world  and choices made for magazine covers.  Progress is slow in the ballet-world.

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Posted (edited)

I think it’s important to be taught about good nutrition and healthy portion sizes. 

 

Apart from an element of luck, the list of health conditions that could be avoided, or at least be better managed with a healthy weight and diet is quite mind boggling! I think children need to be aware of this so that they can make informed choices.

 

The NHS is wonderful IMO. I’m sure waiting lists would be shorter if there was more emphasis on maintaining a healthy weight and good nutrition in the same way that we take greater responsibility for the environment.

Edited by Piccolo
Changed diet to good nutrition

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9 hours ago, sarahw said:

Not commenting on your scenarios but I wonder if we are getting too scared to discuss weight and diet? Not just with DC but with all kids in general...

 

I don’t actually disagree with this. I think assiduously avoiding a topic can be just as bad as constantly bringing it up. 

 

However, I would like to see a change in the conversation from weight to nutrition. The medical world is starting to realise that all this talk of the obesity epidemic has actually not done anything to fix anyone’s health, it’s just made people overly focused on weight as an indicator of health, which it’s actually not a very good indicator of. Afterall, if you only eat 2 chocolate bars a day, you’d be very skinny, but I can’t say you’d be too healthy. Assisting someone with good nutrition like in the books discussed above is very different from shaming a child for liking sweets. I’d actually like to see discussion of nutrition normalised and completely separated from discussion on weight. 

 

Not to mention that in the ballet world, there are so many more things to be dissatisfied with your body about than just your weight. Your height, feet, rotation, length of neck...are all things to start disliking your body for if this isn’t managed correctly. Some of these things can be changed and others can’t. For a lot of dancers, the only thing they feel they can control is their weight. I understand how hard it is to teach your child self acceptance when they can see the types of people getting into associates when they’re not. I’m actually not sure how to fully change the conversation. But I’d like to try! Maybe changing the focus from how your body looks to a focus on what it can do. Or countering negative comments about their body with a focus on things they’re good at such as jumping or artistry. The same way I think society is being encouraged to stop telling girls ‘you look so pretty’ as the first compliment they regularly get and start commenting their abilities, not their appearance. I know appearance is a huge factor in Ballet that can’t be locked down and never discussed, but there are ways and there are ways to discuss things. For both parents and companies and schools. Just because something is hard, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. 

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I agree @Viv the focus should be nutrition not weight.

 

There is some confusion around the fact that you can get all the necessary nutrition (lots veg etc) but still be unhealthy due to excess calories.

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Or you can drink pure fruit juice and smoothies thinking they are healthy, but ending up with the same excess of sugar as in coca cola and other fizzy drinks.

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1 hour ago, Pas de Quatre said:

Or you can drink pure fruit juice and smoothies thinking they are healthy, but ending up with the same excess of sugar as in coca cola and other fizzy drinks.

 

Absolutely!  Fruit juice and smoothies (according to the dietician I saw) by the way they are processed take a lot of the goodness (fibre) out of the fruit.

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The sugars in pure fruit juice and smoothies can cause the liver to become grossly oversized. Remember being quite shocked at seeing a healthy liver against one whose owner had drunk a great deal of pure fruit juice all their life.

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