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Last spring, Miami City Ballet corps de ballet dancer Chloe Freytag decided to eat vegan. With a passion for nutrition, she was concerned that toxins and preservatives in certain foods were preventing her from becoming her best dancing self. "Before veganism I was more rundown and I would get tired easily. My body was weak and heavy at times," she says. "Now I feel like a lighter person, more happy and energetic. I feel more like myself."

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Deborah Wingert emphasizes a mission of health and wellness at Manhattan Youth Ballet. Photo by Erin Baiano, courtesy of Manhattan Youth Ballet

"My first eating disorder, I was about 14," says Deborah Wingert, head faculty at Manhattan Youth Ballet. "I remember carefully limiting everything I ate. I'd eat three quarters of the piece of toast and not the last quarter." Then she'd skip lunch, but eat dinner normally. Her parents never suspected she had a problem. "It was very secretive, and I felt in control," she says. "I couldn't change the shape of my legs, but I could lose weight."

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Deborah Wingert teaches at Manhattan Youth Ballet. Photo by Erin Baiano, courtesy of Manhattan Youth Ballet

In our January 2017 health column registered dietitian Emily Harrison and Manhattan Youth Ballet head faculty Deborah Wingert offer seven tips for helping students build positive relationships to food. One step you can take is to talk privately with students about any body concerns.

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The paleo diet is high in protein and produce, but dancers also need carbs from grains and legumes for energy. Thinkstock

Fueling your body for dance is essential, but deciding what to eat isn't always easy. And with new diets surfacing every month, it can be hard to know what to believe: low-carb, low-fat, no gluten, no dairy? What's the best approach?

We delved into two hot diet trends—paleolithic and gluten-free—and consulted experts to find out how they really stack up for dancers. There's something to take away from both of these diets. Learn the facts to create a meal plan of whole, nutrient-rich foods that will never go out of style.

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