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Ballet Dancer Health, Blood Sugar Balance, Depression And Hypoglycemia

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Young ballet dancers often make comments in a nonchalant manner, relating to their self-esteem issues. Whether it’s an issue with body image, perfection, weight control, or a mildly depressed lack of energy, they either don’t come out and say it, or they really can’t articulate what the issue is. When I recently started reading about hypoglycemia and blood sugar balance, I began to relate its symptoms to many of the statements I had heard.

I became more interested in hypoglycemia and its sometimes subtle symptoms because of a conversation I had with a non-dancer, talented performer, in a different field. This person has performed in many countries, is pushed by all their teachers and yet cannot accept the accolades from teachers or peers or the enthusiasm of fans because – they just can’t.

This person’s lack of self-esteem confuses me. A person who won the number one state award for acting while still in high school? It’s like winning the ballet competition with the pas de deux Blue Bird or Swan Lake.

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Eating disorder is broadly defined as the behavior that produces an emotional outcome by controlling what you eat. This doesn’t necessarily mean anorexia or bulimia, but can refer to a practice of self-control or self-acceptance regarding the food you eat and the calorie content, and this doesn’t just apply to dancers.

It can involve an extreme situation like a teenager who insists on being vegan, in which I personally witnessed the result that caused stress fractures in this dancer who still thought she would be able to, on top getting stronger and having a professional career in ballet while looking at her x-rays.

Recently I’ve been researching hypoglycemia and its symptoms. This is difficult now. The symptoms are almost unique to the individual. But the dominant symptoms, from what I’ve read, are:

  • sadness
  • self-criticism
  • hopelessness
  • Feelings of absolutely no self worth
  • periodic total loss of energy, dizziness, mental confusion
  • Thoughts of suicide but not enough energy to continue thinking

Hypoglycemia is…drum roll…too low blood sugar!

It is caused by a dietary lack of protein or simply lack of food.

Hypoglycemia does not mean you are diabetic or almost diabetic. More specifically, reactive hypoglycemia, this is a condition that results from poor diet or not eating often enough for whatever reason. Or eating too many carbohydrates with too little protein.

The most common recommendation for hypoglycemic people is to eat some protein every two hours.

Also, I would like to mention the rule of nutritionists that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Why? Proteins prepare your brain chemicals for the day. Skip these and your brain chemicals won’t be working properly until the next day IF you eat protein for breakfast.

Dancing parents reading this – how often does your dancing daughter or son run out of the house and skip breakfast because they sleep late?

And what will they eat when they get to the school’s food dispensers? Or will they starve until they get to the school cafeteria for lunch? This is a miserable situation for a non-athlete, let alone a ballet dancer or other athlete.

And later when they run to their ballet academy? Are you one of those ballet parents who suffer when they hear “I’m not that good”…”I’m not good enough”…and worse? While the ballet teacher is telling you that your child should aim higher – auditioning for professional summer intensives?

Still confused? Let me give you some relief. hypoglycemia-without-diabetes is an eye-opening discussion. It’s worth reading the whole thread.

Personally, I believe hypoglycemia is caused by:

  • Lack of education about nutrition
  • processed, fast food, frozen food products
  • not enough time to serve fresh food, indicating what nutritious food is
  • Sugar addiction (nutritional ignorance)
  • Ignorance about Grains, GMO Grains, Glutin and GMO Sugars

And unfortunately I can’t cover much more here. BUT please, if your dancing child or anyone in your family has any energy or depression issues – but not severe enough to warrant consulting your doctor (who likely doesn’t have nutrition training) or therapist, please investigate hypoglycemia. It’s an insidious condition – but can be reversed with good nutrition!

It’s not that difficult. I would never like to hear from a ballet dancer or any other type of performer who feels grumpy, depressed, sad or hopeless about their talent or potential when they have no idea where all this negativity is coming from. And they skip meals, eat nutrient-depleted snacks, and have low blood sugar…

I would never like to hear from a sad, depressed ballet parent whose amazingly talented child fails, drowns, can’t even tread water, suffers from body image issues or self esteem issues and is contemplating quitting ballet or even committing suicide. For lack of a balanced diet.

This can require a lot of extra meal prep for ballet parents! If you’re still reading this post, I’m sure you’re ok with that.

Thanks to Dianne M. Buxton

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