About a month ago Roma had an dance audition for a summer intensive. The audition was scheduled to be from 6:30 to 8:00 and they wanted the dancers there about 45 mins early to register. Add time for parking, etc and we (and most of the dancers) arrived to the audition site about 5:30. Since the audition was going to be long and during dinner time, Roma had eaten a light protein-packed meal about 2pm and had a few "dancer snacks" with her. Unlike the majority of the dancers in the 6:30 audition, Roma was staying for a second audition immediately after and was scheduled to be dancing until 9:30pm.
So, we got to the warm-up/holding room about 5:45 and I was stunned to see how many kids had full meals with them. And I mean FULL MEALS. One girl had a 12" Subway with chips and drink. Another had a 3 piece KFC plate. As we sat there a mom walked in with a giant to-go bag from Chili's and gave her daughter a hamburger and fries. Granted, it was dinner time but I can't imagine having a heavy meal and then doing a 90-minute ballet class is a good idea. And, yes, the kids I saw finished all their food. Roma had a few apple slices and a small handful of cashews for a little pre-audition fuel.
At about 7:30 someone came in and announced the auditions were running long and they would probably go about 30-40 minutes over (so the audition would end at 8:30 instead of 8). A mom in a group of parents sitting near me started to loudly complain to the people she was with. Was she upset that it was going to be late? Nope, she was worried that her daughter was starving and wondered out loud if she could get one of the people running the audition to take her daughter a snack bar. Guess what? This was the mom who had just given her daughter an entire hamburger and fries at 6pm (yes, only 90 minutes ago) and now wanted to interrupt an audition to get her more food. The rest of the parents chimed in at this point about how unfair it was to schedule auditions during the dinner hours and spent at least 10 minutes discussing this. Unable to take it anymore, I put in my ear buds and turned up the music to drown them out.
Sadly, this was not the only time I've seen this fixation on feeding a child in the middle of an activity.
A week after that audition, we were at another one at a dance studio in San Diego. I was in the lobby waiting when a mom walked in carrying a medium size pizza box and a Big Gulp of soda. The class in the studio across from where I was sitting ended, and as the girls were changing shoes and heading to another studio for pointe work, the mom had the girl wolf down a slice of pizza. Again, how can you dance with a big slab of dough and grease sitting in your stomach. Yes, it was dinner time (about 7pm) but the girl appeared to have one more class and then was going to be done for the evening, so why not wait to eat?
This brings me to my point. Parents - your child will not starve if they don't have a FULL MEAL in the middle of physical activity. Eat slow burning, protein-laden real food before you go to wherever you need to be and then plan to eat afterwards. If you must send something to snack on, send something small and easily digested like a banana or small bag of trail mix and a bottle of water. Kids don't need as much food as you think they do. (Of course I know some kids need to eat for medical reasons...but the majority don't). Dance, running, gymnastics, soccer, all take lots of energy, but the energy needs to be consumed before the activity so that it has time to be digested and converted to fuel for the body. By the time Roma was done with the auditions it was after 10pm - so it was about 8 hours after she had a meal. Sure, she was hungry but not famished because she had eaten slow burning foods of the right types to get through the evening.
Tomorrow's post will be about the typical food she eats on a dance intensive day and the "dancer snacks" that we have discovered that allow for the fuel to get through the day without the carb/sugar crash that is detrimental.