When I was a dance student, many decades ago, I had times when, with limited funds, all I could do was subsist on pickles and spaghetti with a little butter on it. This, at the end of a long day seemed like a feast. I have to say that my knowledge of nutrition––and it might be safe to say this of other dancers at the time––was nil. At times I worked in restaurants in the evenings to pay for the days, the rent, food, survival. And those times, I would gorge on anything that passed my way, whether it was a piece of uneaten steak off of some patron’s plate, or a piece of carrot cake scoffed from the dessert fridge, and downed before anyone noticed (although the night watchman did catch me orange-handed, cheeks so full I couldn’t answer his question of “good, eh?” knowing full well that a tattle could end my job) at the end of a late shift.Much of this bad eating was done before the emergence of popular diets; soy milk and ginseng were just making their way into our fridges and cupboards. Still, as dancers, we were usually more concerned with starving ourselves into a classic line that demanded inhuman and cartoon like proportions. How could “not eating” remove five pounds of flesh, and most likely much needed adductor muscle tissue from my inner thigh, and still keep me dancing eight hours a day?
We were young, as a society of eaters back then, and we were young dancers, some of us smoked instead of ate, and others ate and puked.
Today there is indeed an overabundance of information, many, many diets. (I walked into a Chapters recently and nearly had an anxiety attack at the amount and variety of diet books in piles on shelves and tables and walls.) You could probably sit down for half an hour and invent one and credibly sell it online to the waiting masses.
But it is about gut, isn’t it? It’s about trusting your gut feelings. Gotcha. It’s about listening to the voice of reason within. It’s about understanding marketing, selling, being the latest newest thing. I’ve tried various ways of eating (I hate to admit they were diets), and feel that I am coming full circle, the things I like to eat and the way I like to eat them, are nourishing me, and my body. I am for simplicity, unprocessed as much as possible and this equation: add your well being, plus the well being of the planet, plus your means (financially) which all then equal what is logical and reasonable. More on the equation in a follow-up post.
I am currently working on a nutrition diploma and am loving it immensely, the information, the breadth of possibilities of what food can do for me. The resources are endless. But what I am really noticing is the lengths that people will go to get me to eat, read, buy, consume, apply to my body, all in the name of a better me.
The dance student is long in the past but the questionable habits sometimes resurface as I eat quickly, ravenously, as if I have no idea where the next meal will come from, or hang out a little too long at the free pizza samplings at the deli counter at Sobey’s (on Wednesdays), when store bought pizza is not longer in the equation (refined processed white wheat flour). So, as old habits die hard I will be gentle with myself and my impulses, and take the time to listen to my gut.