No, I don’t run marathons.
Heck I don’t even really run. But I do perform. And sometimes let me tell you…. there doesn’t seem to be much difference.
Some shows are more physically intense than others. Some are more emotionally intense than others. But regardless, chances are they take a supreme amount of energy (or at least they should – if you are doing your job). The show I am currently performing is very demanding physically. Playing so many different parts – all with their unique entrances on opposite sides of the theatre – as well as being responsible for all set and prop changes means that each one of us are running like headless chickens the moment we get off stage. Its actually hilarious. Onstage its all “awww, how sweet” and “awww, how touching,” and then offstage its all “MOVE!” “GO!” “WHERE THE *%$* is my shoe!?” Oh what the audience doesn’t know…
Thus, it goes without saying that for this – or any – show, you really need to keep your energy up. A lack of energy can lead to a lack of focus which leads to a lack of presence and a poo-tacular performance.
Just like with athletics… you need to make sure you are taking care of yourself and feeding yourself correctly throughout the day. Also like with athletics, performing comes with its own set of nutritional guidelines. I may go as far to say you need to create yourself a pretty specific meal plan. Some foods are simply better on days that you perform, especially when you have two shows in one day. Of course, it always comes down to personal preference as what works for one actor may not work for another (just like what works for one runner may not work for another). But there are some general staples that I think most performers would agree with:
I don’t always follow these guidelines, of course, but I am pretty aware of what’s best for me before going into a performance. I’ve been using myself as an experiment to try and figure out what foods work best to keep me energized through the day. Its not always the easiest thing to plan, and there’s always some risk and willingness to try new things involved – which can feel scary. But enough talk – here I’m sharing an example of my Tuesday eats – a double performance day – thanks to the What I Ate Wednesday crew.
This was soooo unlike me. I’ve never really been a smoothie bowl person – even in the summer (let alone when its still dark out and I’m wearing my winter jacket). But like I said, I’m craving all the fructose right now, and the thought of cold and creamy and sugary (but without dairy) sounded really good to me and my throat. I used the remaining portion of my almond flavored silken tofu – frozen – and blended it up with a frozen banana, frozen raspberries and a splash of soy milk. Topped it with some chocolate Love Grown Foods Power O’s for that necessary crunch.
Frozen silken tofu / banana / raspberries / soymilk / Chocolate Love Grown O’s
This was soooo collllddddd. But so delicious. Really it was more frozen yogurt than a smoothie, so there’s not much to complain about there. It was high in protein and fruity carbs so it was perfect for satiation and energy to start my day. It was also really filling but didn’t weigh me down. Win.
This may seem like an odd choice, but I’ve actually been finding a small-ish bowl of cold chili is a perfect early lunch. It’s been leaving me totally satisfied and able to focus but not feel stuffed or bloated. I’ve been eating it cold as – I don’t know – I actually like it this way? Its more refreshing, feels good in my belly, and eating hot foods makes me tired (hot foods are comfort foods for a reason).
Sweet Potato Bean Chili
Half an hour before the show I always have some fruit. At this time I’m starting to feel a little bit of hunger again, and I do NOT want any of this while I’m on stage. Fruit is filling and gives me a good spike of energy.
After the show, all I want is cold and fizzy. In between shows I usually go on a little walk to refreshen my energy. I was craving coke – very specifically out of a wax cup with a straw (seriously – weird cravings have been ALL over the place here – don’t ask). Not the healthiest choice but my body wanted it.
Coke that went flat in t-minus 3 minutes. Mmmmm.
Dinner has to be earlier than I’m used to. I’ve been eating at 5, which gives me enough time to have something a bit more substantial, but I still need to be wary of not having something that will give me that post-dinner crash. This is when something smaller and dense, uncomplicated and plain, sounds a lot better than something like a large salad. My main aim is to just feel satisfied so I’m not thinking about food but also don’t feel overly full. I’m not ever a sandwich-for-dinner kind of person, but lately they’ve been working really well here.
Cheese / Salami / Mayo / Dijon / Lettuce / Tomato Sandwich
Again, half an hour before the show I have a little something to ensure my hunger stays down and to give me a little energy boost. I’ve been loving oranges because they’re so juiiicccyyy.
2 clementines / piece of chocolate
Evening Snack: 10:30
Evenings have been kind of hard for me, and to be honest I’ve been feeling pretty guilty about what/how much I’ve been eating before bed. But that’s a whole other topic. This day, on the other hand, I felt a lot less ravenous and much more in control with my eating when I got home – which must mean I fed myself a bit better throughout the day today. Win win.
Of course… I wanted cold and I wanted fruit… what the heck!?! I’m wearing my parka!!
Banana nice cream in an almost empty smarties ice cream pint + frozen reeces pumpkin peanut butter cupPerformance Day Meal Plan. How do you eat for sustained energy? #nutrition #acting… Click To Tweet
So there… us actors and runners aren’t that different after all. Sometimes you crave and eat weird things when you are in a focused training or performance schedule. Sometimes you need to use yourself as an experiment and be a little more conscious about what you put in your body. Experimenting with your nutrition and trying new things can feel scary or uncomfortable – especially for me with new times and eating more frequently – but it feels really good when you find things that make you feel how you want to feel: energized, focused, strong and satisfied.
Do you ever go through crazy fruit cravings??
Have you ever used yourself as an experiment to sort out what the best foods for you to eat are? Do you find it stressing or do you enjoy it?
What are your favorite foods for sustained energy?
Tips for foods that don’t weigh you down or give you a post dinner crash?