Dancers and performers need to take special considerations in their diet in order to provide enough energy and nutrition to keep up with a demanding lifestyle. There are many foods that can affect your stamina, muscle strength, mental clarity, and even your mood.
There is one thing I make a point to eat before every show – a banana.
Stage fright can be crippling and everyone experiences it to some degree from time to time. Our bodies actually respond to performing as a fight-or-flight situation, and this spurs an increase or sudden spike of adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline can seem to slow down time, give a boost in muscle function, heighten the senses and block out pain.
The effects of adrenaline can cause stage fright, with varying symptoms such as increased heart rate, sweating, shaking, nausea, anxiety, inability to concentrate, and the feeling of butterflies in the stomach.
Enter, the humble banana. Bananas are high in natural beta blockers, which work by blocking adrenaline receptors. Doctors prescribe beta blockers to reduce heart rate and blood pressure or treat anxiety. In the smaller amounts found in foods like bananas, it seems to take the edge off, allowing the benefits of adrenaline surges to outweigh the negative side effects.
Bananas are also high in potassium and magnesium, which are essential for muscle function, and tryptophan, which has a further calming effect.
Other foods high in beta blockers include potatoes, pomegranates, turkey, oatmeal and broccoli, as well as the herbs chamomile and valerian. I personally love bananas because they are portable and easy to eat quickly. I tend to eat one at breakfast, and another about an hour before performing.
What is your favorite pre-show snack? What do you do to cope with stage fright and anxiety?