Powering up your workshop participation
When we take belly dance workshops it’s important to stay “powered up” so that we can get the most out of those workshops. Things like a good night’s sleep before hand can help, but the right kind of calories and hydration are a huge component that we all too often take for granted. It’s true that some workshops will offer a water station, or maybe some sugary carbs to participants, but I am a firm believer in packing what you’re going to need to keep yourself going in your dance bag.
First and foremost is hydration. Whether you prefer plain water, water with flavor, sparkling water or water with electrolytes, make sure you bring an ample supply for yourself. Remember that caffeine will dehydrate rather than hydrate (as will alcohol, but let’s assume you’re not planning to put vodka in your water bottle) so your hydration source shouldn’t be a caffeinated beverage. I don’t recommend bringing a fruit juice as your primary source of hydration as the sugars will enter and leave the blood stream fairly quickly, but putting a few table spoons of fruit juice into your water for flavor, or packing one unsweetened juice box for a little natural sugar boost later in the day, can be a great addition. (Extra tip – freeze the juice box the night before and it will keep other snacks cold for most of the day, and be defrosted by the end of your workshop day to be enjoyed).
Now let’s talk about the calories part, the snacks. A balance of protein , complex carbs and a little fat will keep you moving and thinking clearly without the buzz of simple sugar or the cloudy headedness from insufficient blood sugar levels, and will help your muscles stay in the game. Part of the key is to snack lightly throughout a long workshop day, not just at the beginning and end. But you don’t want to put something heavy in your stomach in the midst of all that dancing, so here are some great choices that hit that balance.
1. Did you freeze that juice box? Put a couple of string cheese sticks in a Ziploc bag with the frozen juice box. You can eat just one at a time, and not have too much in your stomach. Plus they are a fantastic protein source with that little bit of fat you need.
2. A snack size baggie of something like Wheat Thins, Triscuits, or Diamond Nut Thin crackers can give you some complex carbs, a little salt (but not a ton) and again you can eat just a few at a time. Heck, one cheese stick and 3 or 4 crackers at the same time is a great combo!
3. Raw nuts. Roasted nuts are good too, but the process of roasting nuts increases the carbohydrate content and decreases the protein content, and the oils used in roasting don’t always sit well in my stomach during a high energy workshop, but the natural bit of fat in nuts is a great addition. I find raw nuts chewier than roasted and that better satisfies me when I’m hungry. Raw cashews and raw almonds are among my favorites, mix them with some raisins or dried cranberries for a little extra sweetness and another bit of energy boost from the carbs.
4. Fresh fruit is a great choice too. Take some grapes off of their stems and freeze them the night before. They stay nice and cold further into the day this way. Or cut an apple or pear into one or two bite pieces and soak them for a few minutes in 1 cup of cold water mixed with 1 tablespoon lemon juice (so they won’t turn brown) drain and put them in a snack bag or small container. Bring a small container of nutbutter (peanut, almond, walnut and cashew butters are all delicious) to dip the pieces in when you eat them to pump up the protein.
5. Hard boiled eggs. Great source of protein, and fairly light as well. But, be careful with these – they shouldn’t be unrefrigerated for longer than 2 hours. If you packed that frozen juice box, you’re golden!
6. Carrot or celery sticks and a small container of hummus. A single tablespoon of hummus has over 1g of protein making it a great protein source, and the carrots or celery make it a nice crunchy snack. Plus carrots are a great carb source!
7. Use edible rice paper to make small salad wraps. Edible rice papers can be found in Asian markets and you can wrap up all veggies or add a little cooked chicken for the protein. Search online for race paper spring roll recipes.
8. Beef or turkey jerky is a wonderful protein source, a 1oz portion has 9g. Don’t eat a whole lot as it can be heavy in your stomach (especially if you ingest water at the same time!), but .5 -1oz at a time can be a great addition to your snacking.
9. Protein, granola or meal bars. Try to find one that’s got at least 5g of protein and gets less than 35% of its calories from sugar. Even better, find one of the many great recipes on line to make snack bars of your own that are low in sugar and have ingredients that you love.
Having these things handy means when there’s a 5 minute break, you’re ready to grab a quick snack and power back up for the next section of the workshop – no wasting your time standing in line, or looking for a vending machine!