How to Feast Like a Dancer at Thanksgiving

feast like a dancer

Turkey. Potatoes, mashed or sweet. Gravy. Cranberries. Rolls. More gravy. Whatever your family traditionally eats for Thanksgiving, chances are the turkey won’t be the only thing stuffed during the evening meal. So how can you tame the temptation to overeat on the holiday devoted to devouring platefuls of food? Fortunately, there’s plenty of advice for dancers who want to stay light on their feet — and on the scale — during Thanksgiving.


Leslie Bonci is a sports medicine nutritionist who regularly counsels college dance students. Here’s what she told Point Park University’s freshman dancers when she visited them in Pittsburgh.


Callan Hoerdemann, RD, LDN is a former competitive cheerleader who’s now a registered dietitian in Wilmington, North Carolina. She has these tips for dancers who want to eat healthfully at Thanksgiving, and beyond:


Plan Ahead

Eat a protein-packed snack before dinner — one-half cup of steamed edamame, one or two tablespoons of peanut butter on a small apple, or one-quarter cup nuts. She says the protein will help curb your cravings.


Pack Light

If you are eating away from home, bring a healthy side dish to share — think fruit or veggie tray. And when serving yourself, she says to make sure healthy veggies fill more than half of your dinner plate.


Think Before You Eat


Hoerdemann says to check in with yourself often, being mindful of every bite. She suggests listening to your body’s hunger and fullness cues, putting down your fork between bites if necessary, to help you eat more slowly. Also, try using a salad plate instead of a dinner plate to help control portion size.


Knowing how foods affect the body can help a dancer make smart choices at the Thanksgiving buffet. Here are three Thanksgiving mainstays that make good partners for a dancer’s diet:


Sweet potatoes: One medium-sized sweet potato has more than four times the daily amount of Vitamin A a dancer needs. Vitamin A helps make and maintain healthy skin, bones, and soft tissue; and promotes good eyesight.


Cranberries: Cranberries offer several health benefits, and have been used to help combat urinary tract infections. They’re a good source of vitamin C, have been linked to improved oral health, and are filled with antioxidants that may lower a dancer’s risk of certain cancers.


Brussels sprouts: Nutritionists say one-half cup provides 81 percent of your recommended daily dose of vitamin C and more than 100 percent of your vitamin K. They’re also packed with dietary fiber.


If you still find yourself gobbling up more calories than normal this Thanksgiving, here’s one way to burn off the excess, courtesy of Dance Fitness:

For more ideas on dancing your way to better health throughout the holidays, call, stop by your local Fred Astaire Dance Studios, or visit