A Day on the Plate with Jason Winters
Published on 27/02/2018
1. Please share with us your philosophy on nutrition, food and well-being?
I only came to realise how important food, hydration, rest, and breathing is once I took the time to educate myself later in life. My education on these subjects was extremely limited throughout my childhood, and like many children I was subject to only what my parents and schooling provided for me.
2 . What is one thing dancers can do today to start improving their nutrition and fueling the body?
As I mentioned, we need only 4 things to be the best version of ourselves, and to survive. Oxygen, Water, Sleep and Food. If we take the time to really study each of these 4 essential ingredients we will understand how an imbalance in any or all can truly alter the trajectory and quality of our life! So, let’s start with food… first, find out your Blood Type and second, find out your Ayurvedic Dosha at a website like this.
Once I knew my Blood Type was Type A and I was Pitta Vata [Dosha], I was able to learn so much about what is GOOD for me, NEUTRAL for me, and BAD for me. These are not diets, but a guide to becoming the healthiest and highest functioning version of myself.
3. Can you take us through your typical meals during a ‘normal’ day.
On a typical day I wake up and immediately drink between 40-60 mL of NONI (an incredible natural juice that boosts immune, repairs muscles, fights cancer causing agents, boosts youthful regeneration of cells, stimulates digestion and metabolism, and much more). I then drink 1L of water. After an 1-1.5 hour session of Yoga or Walking I would start with a breakfast of 1 fried egg cooked in Ghee (pure clarified butter with NO preservatives or impurities) on a piece of Spelt Sourdough bread (with a thin layer of avocado between the egg and bread), along with a fresh fruit, more water, and a cup of coffee with a small amount of regular milk. I would always have veggies & nuts to snack on between meals, and continue to drink water throughout the day.
Lunch is typically either chicken or fish with veggies (there are literally thousands of options with these ingredients), but the goal for me, is to eat nothing with added sugar and to choose clean, fresh products every time.
Dinner is usually vegetarian if lunch contained a meat or fish dish. I enjoy many meals with proteins like Lentils, Cannellini beans or Tofu and of course lots of veggies. I do still have a sweet tooth, but once I quit eating processed sugars, I found my tastes really changed and I become so much more sensitive to delicate and diverse flavours. so now, a square or 2 of organic dark chocolate with natural sea salt is AMAZING!
4. What are your guilty pleasures when it comes to food?
For me if I crave something on my list of food that’s ‘good’ for me in terms of my dosha and blood type, then I go for it and have some. What’s really cool now is that my system is working at it’s best and the cravings I have change all the time which allow me to have a great amount of variety in the pleasure of food overall.
The best thing about understanding what food does to you personally is how free you are to the cravings and food throughout the day, in portions that really satisfy without making you feel stuffed or lethargic afterwards.
5. How does your food intake and type of foods differ from when you were dancing full-time/professionally?
To be honest, I was a typical young person in the 90’s and 00’s which meant lots of fast food for a fast - paced life. At least that is what I told myself. ‘My schedule is so packed, and I finish so late, and I get up and have to rush out the door… so I only have time for fast food.’ But, once I learned about what it means to care for the instrument that is my body, I knew I needed to learn what is best for me.
I read a great book that opened my mind to how I treat myself, and that was ‘Way of The Peaceful Warrior’ by Dan Millman. From there I started to research much more about how food can affect us as human beings. There is SO much research out there for all of us to discover!
6. What do you think are some misconceptions around food for dancers?
I mentioned a book in my last answer and in that book the main character is an elite athlete who becomes a vegetarian. I am not saying that being a vegetarian is for everyone. In fact, I have tried it, but someone, like myself who is Type A blood type, actually needs fish or white flesh to function at the optimum level. Still, I was very impressed with the story in the book because I had always used the excuse that being so highly active ‘I must eat MEAT all the time to sustain my lifestyle.’ I was simply uneducated in what is really possible with food.
I have spent the last year learning from many different sources about the types of PROTEIN available, and also what my specific needs are in relation to my Ayurvedic Dosha and Blood Type. So now I want to take part in passing along information and inspiration to young people in the hopes they will see how important it is to understand what your body truly needs.
What is your favourite food?
Oh that is impossible to answer, because I now know about food from every corner of the globe and continue to look for innovative recipes and teachers who believe food is an experience and a necessity in becoming the best version of ourselves.
10. Can you share with us a recipe/meal idea that the readers can make?
- 1 cup of split red lentils
- 1 cup of basmati rice
- 1 tablespoon of Ghee
- Salt & Pepper
- 2 cups of diced mixed vegetables
- Spices* (see below)
- 5 cups of water
*For Spices, use either; Warming Spices (1tsp mustard seeds, 1tblsp of curry leaves, 1tblsp of garam masala, 1tsp of turmeric, 1 small knob of ginger grated, garnish with organic yoghurt or squeeze of lemon).
Cooling Spices (1tsp of cumin, 1tsp of ground coriander powder, 1tsp of fennel seeds, garnish with avocado and/or chopped coriander).
- Heat Ghee up in sauce pan, not too hot
- Add spices and start to fry until the start of sizzle and smelling delicious (just a couple minutes)
- Add the rice, lentils, salt, & pepper - stir for about 30 seconds
- Add the water and stir together, put on lid, bring to boil. Once boiling turn to lowest heat and add vegetables that take the longest to cook (pumpkin, carrot, sweet potato, etc)
- Simmer slowly for 10 minutes
- Add the rest of the vegetables (beans, broccoli, zucchini, etc)
- Cook at same temperature for another 10 minutes
- Turn off heat and let it sit for 5 minutes
- Serve, garnish, enjoy!
Make sure to keep up to date with Jason
Photo credits courtesy of Jason and Vidyaliving.com
A bit about Jason…
Jason Winters, originally from the USA, has had a long and lustrous career. Not just as a world class dancer for The Walt Disney World Company, Radio City Music Hall, and Mia Michaels company RAW, but also as an associate choreographer for shows On and Off Broadway, Cirque de Soleil, and So You Think You Can Dance US & Canada to name just a few.
Currently as one of the most sought after teachers, Jason’s faculty positions have included The Joffrey School, Broadway Dance Centre, STEPS on Broadway, Amsterdam Dance Centre, The American Dance Awards, Sydney Dance Company, and many more. Leading him to create the first international comprehensive Contemporary Syllabus in the world, sold exclusively through CSTD, Australia, followed by the ground breaking training program ‘The Movement Experience’ in Sydney. Jason is now director of the Contemporary Program at TNSPA PRO in Sydney, and continues to work worldwide delivering Master Classes and Adjudicating International Competitions.
Jason has worked as choreographer for Australian television on So You Think You Can Dance, Dance Academy, and You Are the One, as well as music artists The Veronicas, BROADHURST, Emma Louise, and Fractures.