I've been really stressed out lately, which makes me tend to overeat. I've put on weight and feel really self-conscious about my dancing. Is this something I should talk to my school director about? —Leah
First, take comfort in the fact that it's totally normal for our emotions to affect how we eat, just as they affect our sleep. I've certainly packed away a box of cookies during my lowest moments, while I've had friends who completely lose their appetite. Talking about it with someone can help give you some perspective. Family, relationship and dance pressures could all be contributing factors. But the body-image pressures of the dance world can make it a pretty uncomfortable topic. “It's important to find someone you really trust who will keep your conversation confidential," says Dr. Nadine Kaslow, a psychologist who works with Atlanta Ballet dancers. “If that's your director, fine. If you're closer to one of your teachers, that might be easier." Because dance could very well be the root of your stress, she also recommends that you talk to someone outside of the studio, such as a guidance counselor, family member or close friend.
If, however, your emotional eating habits have started controlling your life, you need to seek professional help. Excessive dieting or weight loss, binge eating, purging or using laxatives or diet pills are signs you're developing an eating disorder.
Have a question? Send it to Pointe editor and former dancer Amy Brandt at firstname.lastname@example.org.