Dancers are probably known more for being creatures of habit than variety. Why wouldn’t we be? Our art form demands it. We do roughly the same exercises in the same order every day, and work on the same things over and over again.
As creatures of habit and repetition, it’s natural that we would carry that thinking into our diets. How many of us eat the same thing for breakfast every day? Why? Because it’s fast, easy, and we can predict our body’s reaction to it.
If this describes you, you’re not alone. When you have a strong, clean diet of whole foods, habit is not necessarily a bad thing. But we can all benefit from adding some variety to our diet and here’s why.
Kiwis and Oranges
Think about kiwis and oranges for a minute: not only do they look and taste differently, but they also have different nutritional make-ups. We think that oranges are high in the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin C at 139%, but kiwis are even higher at a whopping 273%!
Kiwis are also high in vitamin K (89%) and potassium (16%), while oranges give us thiamin (12%) and calcium (8%). But neither fruit gives us much Vitamin B6 or potassium. For that, you’re better off eating bananas. So, while you might be an orange lover and be getting your daily allotment of fruit from oranges, look at what you’re missing out on by not eating other types of fruit.
The same comparisons can be done for whole grains like brown rice and quinoa, and greens like kale and lettuce. If you get stuck on one, you’re missing out on vital vitamins and minerals that your body needs.
Simple tips to get out of your food rut
When you grocery shop, aim to get at least three kinds of each food group.
- Proteins: choose from both animal and vegetable sources, like eggs, salmon and black beans. If you’re a vegetarian, try yogurt and tempeh in place of the animal products.
- Whole grains: try different ones for breakfast (steel cut oats), lunch (quinoa), and dinner (wild rice).
- Vegetables: go for color! For example, dark leafy greens like spinach, red peppers, and carrots, or beets, sweet potatoes, and broccoli.
- Fruits: go for different colors and textures: blueberries, oranges and kiwis, or bananas, apples and strawberries.
- Healthy fats: walnuts, avocados, and olive oil.
Your dancing body needs a wide variety of nutrients, and keeping track of what those are and where to get them can be a big job. But experimenting with the abundant choices of available whole foods is easy and fun, not to mention more exciting for your taste buds.
So the next time you are shopping or eating out, try breaking out of your food rut and trying a few things outside of your comfort zone. If you want to do some research on what nutrients are found in your favorites foods (and the new ones you’re investigating), check out http://nutritiondata.self.com/.