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Nutrition for Irish Dancers - Meet registered dietitian Jessica

Updated: Feb 16, 2023

We are pleased to welcome and introduce a new member of our Target Training team,

registered dietitian Jessica!

She will be sharing nutrition tips and ideas, specific to Irish dancers, right here on our blog.


As a registered dietitian (RD) and certified diabetes educator (CDE), Jessica has a long history of assisting individuals in achieving their nutritional needs and goals. “My practice integrates advanced understanding of nutritional interventions, the individualized application of these interventions based on unique patient and family needs, and the identification of appropriate paths to achieving positive outcomes,” she says. Jessica is an RD at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital (ranked one of the top three pediatric hospitals in the United States) and specializes in working with unique populations such as celiac disease, diabetes, weight management, prenatal and first year of life, youth athletes, and more. Jessica loves experimenting with food with her two children and utilizing her knowledge as a former professional cookie baker to ensure that not only is it healthy, but tasty too!

Jessica Gahl, Irish dance nutrition


This blog is not just about feeding busy kids (who happen to have busy parents), we are talking about young athletes. They are a unique population – not only do they need fuel to achieve their performing/competition/technique goals but they are also children and young adults who are still growing and developing. We need to recognize that though they are athletes, they are still kids and do not need a lot of the products that are geared towards competitive/elite ADULT athletes. As a single, working mom, there is not a lot of time for preparing all the amazing foods I see online. But it doesn’t mean I can’t provide my busy, very active kiddos with healthy fuel with the limited time I do have.

The internet and media are inundated with advice about nutrition - what you should or should not be eating, in what amounts, combined with specifically prepared additives and eaten only at certain times of day. This advice often comes from celebrities, magazines or social media. But do we know what makes up a healthy diet? We learned about the food pyramid (or MyPyramid or MyPlate) in elementary school and likely snored right through that class because we all know how to eat healthy, right?

In my work at a pediatric hospital, I educate many families from diverse backgrounds and very few provide healthy meals and snacks for their kids. Some state they “know that x-y-z meal/snack isn’t the greatest” but that there isn’t time to eat healthy or that their kids will not eat “healthy stuff”. Others honestly do not realize that the fruit-flavored cereals and pop-tarts, that have become such a common start to American kids’ days, are really just sugar in the form of iced pastries and fun colored “O”s. Let me be clear, I am not criminalizing anyone or saying that these parents’ explanations are not legitimate – It does take time and planning to eat nutritiously and there are HEAPS of healthy foods that kids, and many adults, will absolutely refuse to eat.

So how do you do that? How do you weed through all media messages – from professional athletes who are being paid millions to sell us energy/protein drinks to that friend on Facebook who keeps promoting an all-grass diet – and provide healthy, balance meals and snacks that our kids and teens will actually consume? How do we make sure our young athletes, our young dancers, are meeting their nutritional and physical needs? I’m here to help!

Irish dance nutrition

Young athletes spend considerable time training, conditioning and honing their artistic athleticism, to perform at their highest capability - let’s ensure that they have the proper fuel to do so AS WELL AS meet their age appropriate nutrition needs for brain function, energy and growth. Target Training has asked me to contribute to their blog to assist families and young athletes in navigating the claims and misconceptions in the media and marketplaces and to provide tips and guidance to keep your dancers and young athletes performing and growing to their fullest potential.

I will provide concise and attainable concepts, strategies and ideas for keeping your young athletes fueled. “Rushing from work to pick up my kids, dropping one at soccer and the other at dance and yet you want me to provide a healthy meal and actually have my child eat it, too?!”

Will this take some time, yes. Is it impossible, no.

Looking forward to helping build healthier, stronger and more balanced young athletes.




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