Jayne McAllister

Travel Wellness Expert and Author


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30 Tips for Staying Slim and Sane Through The Holidays Part 5

Holiday Survival Tip #8: Take Control of What’s On Your Plate

Fill your own plate if that’s an option so you can go heavier on the veggies and lighter on the fattening stuff.  Most of us don’t eat enough veggies anyway and you’ll avoid feeling bloated and heavy, and probably sleep better!

Holiday Survival Tip #9:  Think Twice Before Seconds

If you think you want seconds after your main course, have a drink of water and wait ten minutes.  Check in with yourself to see if you are really hungry, especially if you’re planning on having dessert.  If you do decide to head for seconds, limit them to vegetables.  If you’re truly hungry, they’ll fill you faster.

ScaleHoliday Survival Tip #10: Stay On Your Weigh-in Schedule

Be sure to continue to weigh in weekly.  If you let it slide, the weight can creep on really easily.  Even if you’re eating healthy food, too much healthy food is unhealthy.  While I was in college, I spent time in Africa, in a town where modern conveniences were practically non-existent so I had no access to a scale.  I was eating like the locals, so no processed foods and enjoying a well balanced diet.  One day I went to the “big city” to see an expat friend and she had a scale. I was horrified to see that despite my good eating habits, I had put on 10 pounds.

Weight can creep up even if you’re being moderate, because of stress, sleep patterns, the wrong foods or a shift in thyroid.  Weigh yourself on a Sunday since parties are usually on Friday and Saturday nights.

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30 Tips for Staying Slim and Sane Through the Holidays: Part 4 (Exercise)

Holiday Survival Tip #6: Keep on Moving

Did you over indulge yesterday?  It’s time to get moving.  There are so many excuses you can proffer for not exercising at this time of year as your social life steps up.   While it’s very easy to get off track, it’s really not an option.  The reality is that it’s not necessarily about the calories.  Let’s face it, you can spend an hour on the treadmill and burn 250 calories.  That’s about a smallish portion of turkey.  You’d have to spend ten hours in the gym to work off the stuffing, pie and potatoes. So why bother?

As well as the obvious health benefits of regular exercise, keeping on track through the Holiday season will give you a huge sense of achievement.  With your blood oxygenated and your metabolism revved, you’ll feel better for the rest of the day.

Holiday Survival Tip #7:  Wear A Waistband

????????????This will keep you honest, especially at parties: When you overeat, you’ll know it.  I know someone (okay, my mother) who went through a phase of waxing lyrical about the comfortable clothes she was wearing.  They were comfy because they had elasticated waistbands.  Over time, an unsuspected 30 pounds crept on.  Before long, the elasticated waistbands felt as tight as a regular one.  Thankfully she has lost the weight, but it was a lesson worth learning.  Time to zip up and button up!

That’s it for today, folks.  I’m off to work out!


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30 Tips for Staying Slim and Sane Through the Holidays: Part 3 (Alcohol and Dessert)

Today we have two sensitive but aptly timed topics for the Eve of Thanksgiving.

Holiday Survival Tip #4: Watch the Wining

Glasses with champagne on shiny backgroundWe’ve all heard that it’s wise to have a glass of water for every alcoholic drink we consume.  This is true for many reasons.  It will help you stay hydrated, slow down the entry of alcohol into the bloodstream, and make you look prettier in the morning. (No red eyes, bags under the eyes or wrinkly dehydrated skin).  My question to you then, is do you actually do it? I know I forget sometimes.  So what can you do to make sure you follow through for yourself?

Make your first drink a soft one in a fancy glass.  Sparkling water works well in a wine glass or a rocks glass.  That way you’re off to a good start.  If you’ve read my previous blogs, you haven’t arrived starving and you have the presence of mind sans alcohol to not go nuts over hors d’oeuvres.

After a glass of water or two, you can sip on a glass of champagne or a cocktail.  Soda water should be the mixer of choice.  The perils of regular soda or diet soda can be saved for another day, so trust me on this.  Nurse and appreciate your beverage so that it lasts.

Keeping your pre-prandial liquor intake light means you won’t be diving for the bread basket or overindulging at dinner.  I’m adamant about enjoying wine with food so wait until your meal has been served before you have a glass and make sure you continue to have a glass of water or two for each glass of wine.

Savoring and appreciating your beverage should mean fewer empty calories.  My inner wine snob would also recommend that, if you’re cutting back consumption, go for better quality.  Remember, “Life is too short to drink cheap wine.”

Holiday Survival Tip #5:  Deal With Dessert

Christmas Buche de Noel cakeOh the cruelty of it!  This is the time of pecan pie and pumpkin pie in the USA, mince pies and Christmas pudding in the UK, and bûche de Noël in France.  How could I have the audacity to say that a sliver of dessert is all you need.    But really, it is. We “need” a few tastes to satisfy our sweet tooth.   Savoring and enjoying a few bites will go a lot further than wolfing down a whole plateful.

Now, we all know that if you ask for your server or hostess for a small portion, they’ll smile benignly at you while piling a veritable mountain onto your plate.  In this case, you have three bites and be done.  Savor them.  Relish them and count them.  Then let it go.  Similarly, if your host is absolutely insistent that you have some of their famous pie or cake, tell them you’re more stuffed than the turkey but you’ll gladly take a piece to enjoy later.  Do not put it in your fridge. Do not eat it in the car before you arrive home. Ditch it discreetly as soon as you are able.


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30 Tips for Staying Slim and Sane Through the Holidays: Part 2

Continuing my series of tips for surviving this time of year without putting on weight or going completely batty.

Holiday Survival Tip #3: Pass on the Passed Hors d ’Oeuvres

Holiday appetizerHappy hours and cocktail parties with passed hors d’oeuvres before dinner represent a huge landmine for anyone trying to avoid excess poundage.  Hopefully you read yesterday’s blog (if not you can see it here) and you’re not showing up hungry.  This will stop you from rugby tackling the servers or embarrassing yourself after two martinis on an empty stomach.

Even if you have duly prepared for the event, there still lurks the danger of mindless eating as the hors d’oeuvres circle around you. We’re often chatting or engaging with others while we nibble distractedly so we don’t notice that we’re about to have our tenth mini quiche or fifth pig in a blanket.

This brings me to my next point; hors d’oeuvres tend to be high fat, high calorie foods. No one is passing around little plates of salad. I was at a party recently where the hors d’oeuvres were mini-beef burger sliders and corn fritters.  Imagine consuming a bunch of those before dinner! Before you know it, you’ve eaten the equivalent of a whole dinner just in appetizers.  If you’re having cocktails with your hors d’oeuvres and planning on wine with dinner, that will add another meal’s worth of calories to your intake. Right now you’re up to three meals: hors d’oeuvres, cocktails and wine, and your actual dinner. And the January 1st diet is still weeks away. Here are three steps you can take right now:

  • Make it easier on yourself and your waistline by limiting yourself to three items.  Remember, you’re having dinner after.  If you’re not and you’re a fan of what my husband calls the bachelor buffet, put your food on one plate at the same time, as if it were a dinner, otherwise you’ll eat two or three plates of food without realizing.
  • Practice saying “No thank you” so you’ll be ready when the trays come sweeping by.  You don’t have to keep eating.  Stand up and keep your drink or a glass of water in your hand.  That way you don’t have enough hands to manage food as well.  Once you sit down, there’s no telling how much you’ll eat because space and dexterity aren’t issues.
  • Focus on the company and engaging with people and let the food take a back seat so you’ll still have room for dinner.  Bon appetit!


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30 Tips For Staying Slim and Sane Through The Holidays, Part 1

christmas partyWell here we are, on the precipice of the official start to the Holidays, despite what Target and Wal-Mart have led us to believe since late August.   “They” are here.  Thanksgiving for Americans and Hanukkah for my Jewish friends, melded this year into a hybrid Thanksgivukkah .  Meanwhile, Christmas is just four weeks away. Ooh, wait!  There are parties in between!

This is the time of year when we work ourselves up into a sweat without setting foot in a gym.  The “glow” is a nervous reaction to the thought of eating and drinking ourselves up two sizes.  Mentally, the gate opens, the horse bolts and it sure as heck doesn’t look back.  For those who are still struggling with summer holiday weight gain, the spiral continues.  And then there’s the stress of it all: shopping for the right gifts; the gatherings; the family members we’d rather not see; the office party; the guy from three cubicles over who always asks you to dance too many times; running to the bathroom to avoid slow dancing with said would-be suitor; the potential for family disputes; pretending to like Aunt Beatrice’s tougher-than-cardboard pecan pie.

It’s all too much.  So this year, my Holiday gift to you is 30 or more tips on how to stay slim and stress free for the next month or so.  I’ll be delivering two or three tips per day over the next couple of weeks so you can sail through the season with grace, poise and confidence.  Let’s get started.

Holiday Survival Tip #1: Eat Before You Go

A little snack with fiber, protein and good fat before you head to the party, will stop you from overeating on the dark side.

A little snack with fiber, protein and good fat before you head to the party, will stop you from overeating on the dark side.

Er, Jayne, I’m going to a party and there’s going to be food so why would I eat beforehand?

Showing up ravenous will have you rushing up the middle to score a touchdown at the buffet table. Nothing will be out-of-bounds.  Time-out!  Let’s think about this.  If you have lunch at noon or 1 PM, it’s unreasonable to expect to last through cocktail hour until dinner.  A snack with fiber, fat and protein will tide you over and keep your brain on track so you can make smart decisions about what to eat once you’re at the event.  Good snack choices would be hummus with vegetable crudités, lean protein with a green salad dressed with olive oil and lemon juice, or a cup of bean or lentil soup.

Holiday Survival Tip #2: Go In With A Plan.

Whether you’re heading to a party or a sit-down meal, take a moment to confer with your inner Norman Schwarzkopf.  This could be Operation DESSERT Storm.  You need a battle plan.  There are going to be ambushes and saboteurs everywhere.  What’s your intention?  Are you going to skip the champagne and enjoy a small serving of dessert instead?  Are you going to pile your plate with salad and veggies before sampling the “other” stuff?  Are you going to get on the dance floor or pull up a chair to the buffet table?

Formulate your plan. Write it on a Post-it and stick it on your bathroom mirror.  Repeat your intention as you apply your make-up (okay, Guys, you can do this while you shave).  Stick to your strategy and reward yourself with a soak in the tub or a chick-flick (or World War II movie) when you get home.  You will have won the battle and you’ll be on your way to winning the war.