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My Kind of Marathon: Eating for Performance (WIAW)

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:

  • No/minimal dairy (no milk or yogurt or ice cream) – especially when you need to be singing. It coats your throat and will give you the “eh-hems.”  I’ve found that cheese, at least in minimal quantities, to be fine. 
  • Nothing greasy before a show – it’ll just make you feel tired and gross on stage. But after the show? We go straight to the pub… 
  • Especially on two show days – small and frequent is better than large and infrequent (not only is it better but really it is the only option, given the odd timing of the shows). I’m finding smaller, dense things are just so much more appetizing than the thought of anything large.
  • Nothing drying like crackers right before a show. Most breads are okay but I’d want to make sure there was plenty of time between eating and performing. 
  • At least for me, I cravveeee fructose. Fruit is the best form of energy you can get. Its super hydrating for your throat and replenishes that glucose from all the running around you do.  Right now I want ALL THE FRUIT. 
  • Limit coffee. You need energy, but you want your energy to be rooted and natural, not shaky or anxious. You want to be totally in control, and coffee can often make you fleety and ungrounded. 

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.

WHAT-I-ATE-WEDNESDAY-NEW-BUTTON-PEAS-AND-CRAYONS

Breakfast: 8:30 

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. 

smoothie-bowl-2

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.

Lunch: 11:30

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). 

chili-lunch-performance

  Sweet Potato Bean Chili

Snack: 1:00

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.  

snack-pear-performance

Pear

 Snack: 4:00

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. 

mcd-coke

Coke that went flat in t-minus 3 minutes. Mmmmm.

Dinner: 5:00

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. 

sandwich-dinner-performance-2 

Cheese / Salami / Mayo / Dijon / Lettuce / Tomato Sandwich

Snack: 7:00

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. 

snack-oranges-performance

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!!

nice-cream-snack-performance

Banana nice cream in an almost empty smarties ice cream pint  +  frozen reeces pumpkin peanut butter cup

Performance 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.  

Tell me,

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? 

 

39 COMMENTS

  1. Casey the College Celiac | 16th Nov 16

    Since I don’t have much experience in drama, this was definitely an interesting peek into an actress’s life! My favorite filling meal is definitely a loaded smoothie bowl. The mix of sugar, healthy fats and protein always gets me!
    Casey the College Celiac recently posted…Cooking #GlutenFree & #Vegan with Dates: Tips and TricksMy Profile

    • Cora | 22nd Nov 16

      And your smoothie bowls always look like friggen pieces of ART!!

  2. Marina @ Snackie Bird | 16th Nov 16

    First of all, your smoothie bowl looks cuuute. I love pink colors A LOT. Also, your other food looks delicious for me. I don’t like fruit as much during winter (just banana and maybe jam)πŸ˜…

    • Cora | 22nd Nov 16

      I usually don’t either – its too cold – so this was weird for me!

  3. chasetheredgrape | 16th Nov 16

    As you know, experimentation with nutrition has been my past year! But I have learned so much about me, my body and what it needs that it made all the experimentation worth it. We all lead different lives and need to find our own nutritional superheroes that keep us going all day long and make us feel happy and satisfied!
    I used to have the eating before bed guilt. But through my training I have actually come to realise that eating before bed, especially carbs can help us have a more restful and deep sleep and also help us start our day without needing to eat straight away. I always have some cereal about half an hour before bed now and I sleep really well and have the energy to hit my 6am workout fasted, no probs!

    • Cora | 22nd Nov 16

      I definitely know that I can’t sleep if I’m even a bit hungry. I still have the fear that I won’t be hungry in the morning, but I’m trying to trust that not eating for 6-8 hours means that my body still needs food. So I’m eating before bed and I don’t see it stopping. I’ve been having cereal lately too and have been loving it!

  4. Susie @ SuzLyfe | 16th Nov 16

    Hey, performance and sustained energy is performance and sustained energy! And when you have a physical job, you have to think of it as such (and I think EVERYONE, athletes and the people doing the job themselves, often forget that about nonathletic endeavors!).
    Susie @ SuzLyfe recently posted…Are Special Running Socks Necessary? (Feetures Review + Giveaway)My Profile

    • Cora | 22nd Nov 16

      Hear hear!!

  5. Heather @ Polyglot Jot | 16th Nov 16

    This is so true! I always felt like i was gearing up for a marathon before a dance performance week! I think finding what foods work best for your own body can be a challenge an frustrating but once you find the balance its so great!
    Heather @ Polyglot Jot recently posted…WIAW: Sunday FundayMy Profile

    • Cora | 22nd Nov 16

      Ah yes you know this exactly then! Yes – it can be frustrating when something doesn’t work as planned – but that needs to happen to find what DOES work. And that feels great.

  6. Kat | 16th Nov 16

    I think that everyone needs to eat more like an athlete! Maybe then we will stop looking at what we SHOULDN’T eat and focus more on what we SHOULD eat and what that food can do for us!
    That smoothie bowl though is gorgeous!
    Kat recently posted…[WIAW] Carbs Are Not The EnemyMy Profile

  7. Sarah @ BucketListTummy | 16th Nov 16

    I Loved this post, such a great insight into your performance schedule. I definitely understand that you would need to eat certain foods before performing. I would think you want to avoid dry throat or anything that could mess with your voice. Two shows in a day is intense! I think most of my fruit cravings come in the summer, or when my blood sugar is really low.
    Sarah @ BucketListTummy recently posted…Butternut Squash, Beet and Barley Salad with Apple Maple VinaigretteMy Profile

    • Cora | 22nd Nov 16

      Those times make total sense for when you would crave fruit. I think the running around and heat from costumes created both those types of environments for me – so my body wanted rehydration and sugar!

  8. Emily Swanson | 16th Nov 16

    I love it. It all looks so comforting, nutritious, and easy on the stomach. All of those things are so important for athletics too. I totally understand that you like to eat foods that are not overly filling; I love the idea of cold chili.
    Emily Swanson recently posted…WIAW: Why I Eat Ice Cream Every DayMy Profile

    • Cora | 22nd Nov 16

      I’m glad someone isn’t weirded out by the cold chili – I’m seriously really liking it!

  9. Stephanie Leduc | 16th Nov 16

    I totally understand the smoothie bowl thing, it doesn’t work for me either. I think us Canadians need constant warmth and smoothie bowls just don’t cut it!
    I honestly wished I had crazy fruit cravings hahah, but my cravings are usually in the form of another sugar that is not fructose, perhaps maybe more like cookies or cakes… But I have had cravings for the crunch of apples and their tastiness!
    Stephanie Leduc recently posted…On the go Rainbow Salad in a JarMy Profile

    • Cora | 22nd Nov 16

      I feel like now that the show is over my fruit cravings are gone and I’m back to regular sugar and regular carb cravings…. so don’t worry, I’m back with you. Apples though – they are SO good right now.

  10. Haley | 16th Nov 16

    That’s a ridiculously pretty smoothie bowl. I thought it was pitaya at first!

    • Cora | 22nd Nov 16

      What’s pitaya!!??

  11. Ellie Pell | 16th Nov 16

    This is a huge marathon and I completely agree you should treat it as such! Maybe try more dense sources of calories instead of banana ice cream (which is amazing but also really filling) to get in calories and energy without filling your stomach too much.
    I can’t wait to hear about the show!
    Ellie Pell recently posted…Life Transitions (and good vegan food)My Profile

    • Cora | 22nd Nov 16

      Oh man – yes – that banana ice cream was SO filling!! Definitely not the choice when needing to get in more calories. Ps this meant a lot coming from a true marathon-er!

  12. Joyce @ The Hungry Caterpillar | 16th Nov 16

    Okay, I will confess that I’m a little tiny bit weirded out by cold chili. But I had never thought about how warm food can make you sleepy.
    Doing two shows in one day sounds absolutely exhausting! I can totally see how you’d need the fuel. Hope the run is going awesome!
    Joyce @ The Hungry Caterpillar recently posted…WIAW: Comfort Food, Cookbooks, and KaleMy Profile

    • Cora | 22nd Nov 16

      Haha. Well I always love your honesty.
      It is weird… but seriously I’ve been loving cold chili. Its weirdly delicious.

  13. Kristy from Southern In Law | 16th Nov 16

    I feel like I’m always in a crazy fruit craving phase πŸ˜› I loveeee fruit!

    I definitely have certain foods I know are safe options – safe as in they either keep my blood sugar stable or keep me full when needed! Like if I’m off to do a Zumba class I know I need a snack to keep my energy levels up and stop me turning into a hangry beast right after or if I have a day of meetings I know what lunches to pack to keep me from feeling sleepy πŸ˜›
    Kristy from Southern In Law recently posted…Recipe: No Bake Pecan Pie Energy BitesMy Profile

    • Cora | 22nd Nov 16

      Well living where you do, I feel like it makes more sense to have fruit cravings for more of the year. Plus you probably get the besttttt local fruits (I hear Australia gets local honey crisp apples cheap? My Favorite!). Its so nice when we get to the stage that we know what works for our bodies, eh?

  14. Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table | 17th Nov 16

    These similarities surprised me. Then again, after reading them I felt I shouldn’t be surprised at all. There are so many commonalities! Except… Break a leg!!!
    Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table recently posted…Sometimes I forget… sometimes I just can’tMy Profile

    • Cora | 22nd Nov 16

      Hahahah you would NOT want to say that to someone about to run a marathon would you! There’s a definite difference.

  15. Kate | 17th Nov 16

    Yum to all the fruit! I can totally see how that would be your biggest craving with all the running around. I crave fruit, but almost exclusively in the summertime. Probably because all my favorites are in season then.
    I remember the milk tip from when I was in choir! After a crazy busy day I tend to crave things like french fries. And a Diet Coke for sure!

    • Cora | 22nd Nov 16

      Fries and diet coke after a busy day = bliss. I definitely usually just crave fruit in the summer – so this was quite strange!

  16. Patricia @Sweet and Strong | 17th Nov 16

    You are so right that there are certain moments in life that you really need to make sure you’re feeding yourself correctly throughout the day. I try to avoid certain foods if I know I’m going to be traveling or before a presentation I’m nervous about. And yes chili, ultimate comfort food!
    Patricia @Sweet and Strong recently posted…Food, Fitness, and other Weekend HighlightsMy Profile

    • Cora | 22nd Nov 16

      Oh nerves! That’s an interesting one to keep in mind!

  17. Miss Polkadot | 17th Nov 16

    Fruit and – yes, I’m an odd one – carrot cravings are a daily happening for me. That’s the one thing about fully raw eaters I can relate to.
    It was interesting to read what you as actors keep in mind regarding your diet during performance weeks. The milk point aside – we were told this by our choir teacher – I didn’t know any of these. The way you shaped your meals around them is a smart and delicious one.
    Also, the marathon analogy isn’t far off. I have several family members who work highly demanding desk jobs and eat a lot to stay well fueled [don’t like pointing this out because that shouldn’t be the main point but: they’re at healthy weights]. So you moving around a lot on stage, possibly wearing heavy costumes and rushing back and forth in between scenes to change the latter = lots of fuel needed.

  18. Lyss | 18th Nov 16

    I do go through fruit cravings… fruit is just so fresh and sweet. I can’t get enough of it!

    I find that when I start my day with fats- peanut butter, avocado, etc… I feel way more energized. And I need carbs throughout the day to keep me going. Especially through long days of classes!
    Lyss recently posted…Where I’m at Right NowMy Profile

    • Cora | 22nd Nov 16

      Ohhh yes if I don’t have carbs in my day there is NO way I can focus through a class. Its so nice getting to a place where we know what our bodies work best on, eh?

  19. Week In Review: Like Magic. Feeling Happy and Flying High. | 21st Nov 16

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  20. Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets | 21st Nov 16

    I’m with you when it comes to the fruit. I’ve always loved it, although it was amped up for sure when I was pregnant. Our bodies crave those quick little energy bursts.

    Speaking of fruit, Ave tried her first pear this morning. I’m not sure she likes it although I’ll give it to her a few more times before making a final decision. Right now, black beans are her favorite. Can’t say I blame her. πŸ™‚
    Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets recently posted…Week in Review (#58)My Profile

    • Cora | 22nd Nov 16

      Black beans eh? The girl’s got mature tastes. I hope she comes around to the pear. It’s my favorite these days. Though it’s starting to sound like she’s going to be a savory >> sweet kind of girl…

  21. Week In Review: Updates from a Puddy Brain | 16th Apr 17

    […] so hungry. Like all the time. This seems to happen during performance runs.  Like I said here, its a marathon. I don’t exactly feel good about it, but its […]

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