For someone like me who is constantly on the go and who travels like I do, a steady diet is near impossible. I find myself picking food based on the time I have and choosing the lesser of the evils. Not to mention my love affair with food and desserts. Don’t judge me.

In college I had a steady diet of fast food. But what they say is true…once you pass 25 years of age, metabolism slows down and you gradually become more susceptible to obesity, disease and various other health risks. Diet and nutrition becomes a necessity to live a long, happy, fruitful life. To a dancer like myself, being healthy is even more important and will allow me to continue to do what I love to do for many years to come.

Nobody I know wants to be unhealthy or become overweight. Most people would love to be in peak physical condition, but diets and nutrition are just so overwhelming. Diets for most people are temporary fixes. People try to make too many changes too fast and they are unable to maintain the new patterns over time. Instead of crash dieting to improve your overall health, make small changes to your diet and nutrition until they become lasting habits. Over time these changes can lead to you feeling better and the oh-so-appealing weight loss.

Here’s what I did to make simple changes to my everyday diet for better health.

Changing the way I get my caffeine rush: For those long days, cut out the soda. The regular versions are filled with sugar and chemicals, and even the diet versions, though lacking in calories, still have high amounts of sodium and phosphoric acid in them. Instead, turn to tea and coffee for that rush. Although in this coffee house generation, the tendency is to order coffee and lattes filled with crap, it’s better to just avoid all that much milk and sugar. (Shush, you’ll get used to it.) Green tea has the most healthy benefits because it is both minimally processed and filled with antioxidants.

Snacking right: As you’ve probably heard before, eating many smalls meals throughout the day is better for you than eating a few big meals. The benefits are a higher metabolism and lowers the risk of stuffing your face. The trick to eating smaller meals is to set up the right in-between-meal snacks. Fruit is one of the great choices, as is a protein bar. Bananas, apples and bars are easy to carry around everywhere you go.

Trying a glass of water first: Remember that dehydration is often mistaken for hunger. Before you eat something, drink a glass of water first. It’s especially important to up your water intake when you are at dance weekends. You are sweating a lot more than you are probably used to at home, and you are also eating out a lot with all the temptations that that brings. This is especially important for you weekend alcoholics (you know who you are). If you don’t drink enough water you can end up both dehydrated and overfed…and hungover.

Letting my taste buds breathe: Avoid adding extras like salt, sugar and condiments to your meals and drinks. You taste buds will adapt. You don’t actually need the extra salt…and you know it.

Choosing the right sides: Do you want fries with that? Just say no. When you are out to eat, choose a salad, vegetables or fruit as a side instead of french fries.

Rewarding myself: Here’s the best part: Once a week, completely throw your dietary rules out the window and indulge in a meal that satisfies your food cravings. Note: I said one meal, not an entire day. Saying that you’ll “burn it off” with a workout or dancing never works. In fact, you’re more likely to eat more calories than the calories you burn making your “burn it off” premise faulty. Having a cheat meal gives you something to look forward to. Who doesn’t like to earn their gold stars?

The great news is that by making these changes, your food cravings will also change. Eventually, things like soda will loose its appeal and will taste different. Greasy foods and acidic drinks will make you feel worse. You may even end up craving healthy stuff. Ok, so I’ll never crave wheat grass, but fruit is now my favorite snack.

As the title says, this is baby steps to nutrition. Which means that if the list I gave you seems overwhelming, simply choose one or two of the small changes to start. Every choice you make will be an important step toward being more healthy.


written by Nick Williams
edited by Chelsea Bromstad Lee