Happy Food= Happy Dancer. Part 4: Planning, Stocking and eating well.

In this mini series of food, I have talked about the positive effect that good quality, fresh food has on your mood, health and creativity and the negative impact of processed food. Better food = better health. As a dancer the nutrients we put in our body is vital to sustain a long career and to thrive each day, injury free, full of energy and to be able to enjoy our whole life to the max.

“Nutrition is not low fat. It is not low calorie. It is not being hungry and feeling deprived. It is nourishing your body with real, whole foods so that you are consistently satisfied and energised to live to the fullest”. (Amanda Freer, 2015)

This blog is about planning the food you eat, making sure your kitchen is well stocked with whole foods and clearing out what you don’t need/want or is of zero benefit to you. A while ago, I threw out foods that I felt were not going to be of any good to me – after it actually felt quite liberating. This initially felt wasteful but re-considered that my body is not a dustbin and I would rather fill the bin with junk, rather than my body! I know if there is any rubbish food in the house, it will probably get eaten.

Here is what I would encourage you to reconsider eating or buying again:

1. Breakfast cereals. – especially the really sugary ones that have been cleverly marketed. In part 1 of this blog series, there is a recipe to create your own breakfast cereal and it means you know exactly what is going in it rather than spoonfuls of sugar.

2. Processed and convenience food – ready meals, packet foods, foods that claim to be healthy and will make you lose weight.

3. Margarine – if you eat dairy, proper organic butter is much better than margarine. Or ideally try and cut it out altogether and find replacements such as humous.

4. Canned food such as spaghetti hoops, tinned soups or beans with sausages in. The foods have been created to last longer, so will normally have added sugar, refined salt and preservatives. Only choose tins that have water in them.

5. Salad dressing – many have lots of extra sugar in them to last longer. See part 2 of this blog series, to make your own salad dressing.

6. Biscuits, sweets and cakes – See part 3 of this blog series for a few suggestions on how to make your own healthy version of sweets and biscuits and still satisfies the sweet cravings.

7. Yoghurts – low fat yoghurts contain the same amount of sugar as fizzy drinks. Yoghurts are not a healthy product and the calcium content is not particularly high and need magnesium and Vitamin D to be useful for bone density. Fresh, organic foods such as leafy greens and nuts, actually contain more vitamin content and are more nutritious.

Replace your cupboards with:

Pulses, nuts and seeds

Salads and vegetables


Coconut, Almond, Oat and Rice milk

Fresh or dried herbs

Spices – Cumin, Paprika, Turmeric, Chilli flakes, Ginger, Curry powder

Black pepper

Sea Salt/Himalayan Pink Salt




Fresh Ginger

Olive, Coconut and Rapeseed oil


Lentils – red/green

Buckwheat, rice or gram flour

Brown Rice


Good quality tea and coffee

Apple Cider vinegar

Turmeric – fresh and ground


Cacao Powder

Maple syrup



Top Tips for Eating Well:

1. Don’t go hungry – being healthy is not about feeling starved, so avoid calorie counting. Eat lots of plants! Many athletes such as Lewis Hamilton and Serena Williams have plant based diets and they have achieved unbelievable success.

2. Plan the food you are going to eat for the week ahead. I generally have a rough idea of the food I am going to prepare throughout the week but keep it a little flexible incase my plans change. I order a home delivery and by ordering online I find I am not tempted by special offers and stick more to my list, therefore sticking to a budget.

3. Enjoy great food with a friend, fellow dancers or partner. It makes life a lot easier and you can share your experiences of different foods you have tried out.

4. Stick to eating plant based foods and see if you notice a difference within a month, either to your mood or general health and energy.

5. Find alternatives to processed foods – there is so much delicious variation of food out there.

6. Limit the use of oils when cooking and keep them to a minimum. Try to not heat olive oil as it can become carcinogenic and just use it cold on salads.

7. Limit or eliminate alcohol.

8. Limit caffeine – 1-2 cups of coffee a day or 2-3 cups of breakfast tea/green tea and change other teas to herbals or warm water and lemon.

9. Use dairy free milks such as almond, rice and oat. There is research to suggest that dairy can cause asthma and skin complaints.

10. Enjoy food! Enjoy cooking food, sourcing food and eating food that nourishes you and supports your health and body.

Stay in touch:


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Hannilybendelldance/

Blog: hannilysblog.wordpress.com

Twitter: @hannilydance

Instagram: Hannily_Bendell_Dance


Recipes for Happiness – The Happy Pear by David and Stephen Flynn (2018).

Eat, Nourish, Glow by Amelia Freer (2015).

Integrative Nutrition by Joshua Rosenthal ( 2014).

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