Detox Diets

The truth about quick-fix cleansers

When it comes to healthy nutritional practices, the messages that dancers believe and follow greatly affect their health. Even when armed with positive and reliable information, it can be a challenge to make smart choices that will help them maintain a healthy performance weight. This is particularly the case when it comes to new diet trends like cleansing detoxes.

The allure of these diets is their claim to increase energy and quickly result in sleek, lithe bodies. The regimens range from a one-day to a three-week duration, from a liquid-only to a fruit, vegetable, legume and nut plan, and they claim to cleanse the body of toxins from smoke, alcohol, pollution, caffeine, pesticides and processed foods. The danger is that the low-calorie content of these regimens does not provide dancers with the energy and nutrients needed for a demanding dance schedule. And if practiced over a long period of time, detox diets can lead to major problems for dancers: injury, vitamin/nutritional deficiency, decreased immunity, and digestive difficulties. Here is what you should know about the most common cleanses—and their side effects.

Most Popular Cleanses

Master Cleanse: This diet suggests a minimum of 10 days during which you consume a mixture of distilled, purified or spring water, fresh-squeezed lemon or lime juice, cayenne pepper and maple syrup. The resultant weight loss is due mostly to water loss, which is surely to be gained again, and since it includes no protein, muscle tissue can waste away.

Juice Fast: Often encouraged for three days, these types of diets have specially designed blends of fruit, vegetable and nut combinations. Juice fasts often claim to replenish cells and support health. However, they don’t contain enough vital nutrients required by dancers to live up to that promise, because these fasts are very low in calories, protein and fiber. Plus, plans ordered online can be pricey—$60 or more a day. (Imagine how much fresh, nutritional food could be purchased!) As with the Master Cleanse, the weight lost is easily regained.

Food Cleanse: On this type of three- to five-day cleanse, eating “clean” and simple is encouraged by eliminating alcohol, caffeine, sugar, meats and dairy. Humans can live without alcohol, caffeine and even refined sugars, but a dancer’s body needs appropriate protein. A plus is that since whole food is consumed in this diet, the digestive process should not be adversely affected.

Side Effects

*Headaches and fatigue can occur from low blood sugar caused by the lack of food intake. This can impair a dancer’s ability to concentrate and her sense of timing.

*Eating so little for a short time may decrease bloating and cause a temporary sense of emptiness. However, in the long term, this action can actually increase bloating, as stomach motility slows down.

*Constipation and dehydration occur when sufficient calories and fiber are not ingested, whereas a laxative solution flush on a liquid fast can deplete the “friendly” intestinal bacteria, putting the immune system at risk.

*Eating too little protein and calories weakens the body’s muscle-repairing abilities, which increases the risk of injury. Inadequate carbohydrate intake makes muscles unable to restore used energy, and dancers can become overly sore after dancing.

*Metabolism regulates downward with low-calorie dieting, so over time, muscle mass and neurological function can deteriorate.

*The most dangerous side effect is becoming addicted to cleansing as a way to purge.

A Safer Approach

Dancers can try a few days of eating whole foods (fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, low-fat dairy, nuts, seeds and legumes), avoiding sugar, alcohol and caffeine and drinking more water. This will help them return to more mindful eating without subjecting themselves to the dangers of a detox cleanse. Getting in the habit of eating smaller portions several times a day will better distribute nutrients and caloric intake, and it will provide dancers with a healthy nutrition practice and weight-management control for life. DT

Heidi Skolnik is president of Nutrition Conditioning, Inc., and oversees the nutrition program at several performing arts schools. She is the author of Nutrient Timing for Peak Performance.

(Photo ©iStockphoto.com/Brian Balster)

Teachers Trending
Photo by Yvonne M. Portra, courtesy Faulkner

It's a Wednesday in May, and 14 Stanford University advanced modern ­dance students are logged on to Zoom, each practicing a socially distanced duet with an imaginary person. "Think about the quality of their personality and the type of duet you might have," says their instructor Katie Faulkner, "but also their surface area and how you'd relate to them in space." Amid dorm rooms, living rooms, dining rooms and backyards, the dancers make do with cramped quarters and dodge furniture as they twist, curve, stretch and intertwine with their imaginary partners.

Keep reading... Show less
Music
Getty Images

Securing the correct music licensing for your studio is an important step in creating a financially sound business. "Music licensing is something studio owners seem to either embrace or ignore completely," says Clint Salter, CEO and founder of the Dance Studio Owners Association. While it may seem like it's a situation in which it's easier to ask for forgiveness rather than permission—that is, to wait until you're approached by a music-rights organization before purchasing a license—Salter disagrees, citing Peloton, the exercise company that produces streaming at-home workouts. In February, Peloton settled a music-licensing suit with the National Music Publishers' Association out-of-court for an undisclosed amount. Originally, NMPA had sought $300 million in damages from Peloton. "It can get extremely expensive," says Salter. "It's not worth it for a studio to get caught up in that."

As you continue to explore a hybrid online/in-person version of your class schedule, it's crucial that your music licenses include coverage for livestreamed instruction—which comes with its own particular requirements. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about music licensing—in both normal times and COVID times—as well as some safe music bets that won't pose any issues.

Keep reading... Show less
Teaching Tips
A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

By now, most dance educators hopefully understand that they have a responsibility to address racism in the studio. But knowing that you need to be actively cultivating racial equity isn't the same thing as knowing how to do so.

Of course, there's no easy answer, and no perfect approach. As social justice advocate David King emphasized at a recent interactive webinar, "Cultivating Racial Equity in the Classroom," this work is never-ending. The event, hosted by Dancewave (which just launched a new racial-equity curriculum) was a good starting point, though, and offered some helpful takeaways for dance educators committed to racial justice.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.