What is Dysfunctional Nutrition?

While ‘Optimal Nutrition’ is manipulating an already good diet to maximize performance and recovery, and ‘Good Nutrition’ is covering all vitamin, nutrient amino-acid and essential fatty-acid requirements, ‘Dysfunctional Nutrition’ is defined by eating foods that really give little or no nutritional value. Whether they eat these foods due to convenience, taste preference, perceived cost or any other reason, some dancer’s live on a diet of “empty calories”. While the initial cost of some of these foods may be low, the actual cost on the dancer is high, with more time off due to injury, medical bills as well as battles with weight gain and loss due to lack of satisfaction with food.

• Potato Chips/Crisps: especially ones made from powdered potatoes such as Pringles (Check out the label and you will see all the other things that go in there… Citric acid, Acetic acid, Sodium acetate). The fat content and type of fat is also on the not so great.

• Crackers Made from White Flour: Any goodness from the grains that were originally used got sifted out with the husks. Try to use whole grain versions or grainy bread, and watch the fat and sugar content between varieties.

• Chocolate: Yes it does have calcium, and dark chocolate may have some antioxidant qualities, but your average chocolate bar is more detrimental than positive. A little bit now and then is ok, but as a daily addition to her diet is not such a good choice.

• “Sports Drinks”: With all their claims of including all the vitamins and minerals you could ever need, many sports drinks contain way too much sugar, and enough artificial colorings and flavorings to turn your mouth blue (literally!). Drink in small quantities, diluted with water if at all.

• Fruit Juices and Fruit Drinks: While juice from fruit is good, fruit juices can contain a lot of calories (and preservatives), without the fiber that comes from eating the whole fruit. Considering it takes about 4-5 oranges to make a glass of juice, try and get dancers to eat the real thing, or drink juice diluted with mineral water. “Fruit drinks” are worse, with as little as 5% actual juice and lots of extra sugar, color, flavor and preservatives.

• Processed Cheese Slices and Dips: Again, check the label for a long list of odd ingredients that are better left in the pharmacy. While they may have a long shelf life and are easy to pack, a slice of real cheese will be a lot more nutritious.

• Soft Drinks/Soda Pop: Drinks that were once a treat on special occasions have now often replaced water as the main source of fluid intake for many children. Again, the colors and flavors used can cause problems with attention, as well as interfere with the absorption of other nutrients. The sugar and caffeine level will give them energy in the short term, but zap energy in the long term. The caffeine in cola drinks may also deplete calcium in the developing bones especially in those girls who avoid dairy products.

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