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I see a lot of posts from pole dancers on social media about nutrition. Many of these posts focus on how to lose weight–but I think a better way to approach nutrition is to ask yourself “how can I best fuel my body for the work I’m asking it to do?”

The GIANT secret to healthy eating

Hint: there really isn’t one.

When it comes to fueling your body with healthy foods, there are a few basic guidelines that will make a big difference.

1) Read labels

Know and understand what’s in the food you eat. If you like to guzzle a protein shake before or after training, know what’s in it and how it contributes to your overall nutritional goals for the day. They are not all created equal! That’s not to say that you should avoid them. Again, just know how they contribute to your overall nutritional goals for the day.

2) Stock your pantry and fridge with whole grains, seeds, nuts, fruits, and vegetables

The idea here is to set yourself up for nutrient-rich food choices by making that choice convenient! It should be as quick and easy to grab some strawberries and cheese as it is to grab a handful of chips (or two, or three, or the bag). If you do eat the chips … well, pay close attention to point #4 below.

3) Know your food weaknesses

If you have a sweet tooth, make an effort have healthy sweet snacks around like berries, cacao, or dates. I tend to reach for savory or salty snack foods … so I try to make sure I have options like homemade whole grain crackers, or peanut butter, or roasted chickpeas. These hit all the same buttons as a bag of chips would, but with more fiber and more nutrients. Win!

4) Food is not a moral value. Food is food.

It’s very easy to develop a psychologically unhealthy relationship with food — all you have to do is start attributing morals to it. Did you eat a bag of chips? OK, so what. Did you proceed to beat yourself up about it and overcompensate by starving yourself for the rest of the day to “make up” the calories? Or did you shrug it off, knowing that one bag of chips does not an unhealthy lifestyle make? The more we learn to consider food as what it actually is — fuel for our bodies, with some fuels providing more “oomph” nutritionally than others — the further we are on the path to having a positive relationship with food.

A few sessions with a nutritional consultant is often money well spent, especially if you have never read a food label in your life, or don’t understand how different foods provide fuel in different ways. Or, if you have a friend who knows and understands a lot about balance nutrition, spend a few hours with him or her. Do some meal prep together.

The bottom line here is that you should understand the foods you are putting into your body, and pay attention to how those foods affect your daily health and performance. Your body will thank you for taking, not just in pole gains but in quality of life gains.

Happy poling!

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