Jayne McAllister

Travel Wellness Expert and Author

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Healthy Travel Summit: International Expert Interview Series

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The first global event that focuses on every aspect of business travel from diet and exercise to stress, socializing and relationships.

WHAT7 Experts, 3 Countries, and the Most Authoritative Voices in Travel Health.

WHEN: September 9th to 15th at noon EST/17:00 GMT.

WHERE: Virtual! Listen via webcast or download and listen at your leisure.

HOW: Register for FREE right here.

WHY: Because when my health was suffering as a result of bad habits gleaned from constant travel, I could have really used help like this. The combined interviews will be the most comprehensive guide ever to overall health and wellness for the business traveler.

WHO: Adam Glickman, Head of EVEN Hotels; Averil Leimon, Director of White Water Strategies, one of the UK’s top ten coaches (Independent on Sunday), and author of Positive Psychology for Dummies; Nikos Loukas, founder of InflightFeed.com and consultant to the airline catering industry; Christopher Babayode, the Go To person for healthy jet lag solutions for frequent fliers, founder of www.NoJetStress.com, a hybrid nutrition, fitness and wellness program that helps frequent fliers overcome jet lag without medication; Stewart Stone, founder of NowLanding.com, the social network for frequent business travelers; Katherine Patch Sleipnes, business development director of FlyInStyle.co, the app that helps you maximize your time in airports; and Jayne McAllister, I’m here to talk about overcoming challenges with diet and exercise on the road.



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Vino Volo – Taking Airport Food (& Wine) to New Heights

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you follow me regularly, you know that I have a bit of a beef with airport dining.  That said, I’m thrilled that more and more airports are elevating their options so we may actually get to the point where it’s worth checking in early or not suffering through a long layover.  I’m all in favor of eating before boarding so you can have more control over what you consume, but I want to see more than cinnamon rolls and soggy pizza on the menu.

Imagine my delight therefore when I had the opportunity to try Vino Volo at JFK recently.  Since I became self-employed, I  no longer have airport lounge membership.  It used to bother me but now that I’ve discovered Vino Volo, I really don’t care.  This is way better!

What’s all the fuss about?  While you’re waiting for your flight, you can indulge in a flight of a different kind, a wine tasting flight.  Vino Volo’s thoughtful and extensive list has something for everyone whether red, white or rosé, Old World or New World.  The Italian Stallions get my vote, a macho flight of Valpolicella, Barolo and Rosso di Toscana that perfectly complemented the cheese plate.  Even my sommelier husband was impressed…

But, Jayne, you’re all about being healthy on the road… That’s right, I am.  First of all, I’d rather see someone consume a glass of red wine rather than a soda any day.  The former – in moderation – is way healthier than the latter.  Secondly, wherever there is good wine, there is usually good food.  That principle certainly applies in Vino Volo’s case.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe menu is small but well-planned.  You can order as little as cured olives or marcona almonds to enjoy with your wine (I really recommend that if you’re not having anything else to eat – please don’t ever drink on an empty stomach).  Or, you can select from three plates and three sandwiches and salads.  These all come in half portions, which I wish more places would offer, so the calorie counts are very reasonable.

The smoked salmon rolls are 270 calories for a half portion; chickpea and chorizo chili a mere 200, penne and cheese for the non-carb phobic weighs in at 330 calories for a half portion.  A fabulous roasted chicken breast salad has 310 calories for the half, and 510 calories for the full size.  Sandwiches are similar in energy values, and you can choose between the tuscan chicken or the brie and prosciutto.  Not too shabby!

Plus the setting is stylish and comfortable, and, in my humble opinion, more interesting than an airport lounge.  I can people watch and I’m less likely to be subjected to other folk’s cell phone conversations.  Most importantly, the wine and food options are better!

Vino Volo has 17 airport locations, including JFK, Dallas, San Francisco, Washington Dulles, Newark and Philadelphia. For exact airport and terminal locations, check out their website at http://www.vinovolo.com.  Now if they would just open one in the American Airlines terminal in Orlando…

Bon Appetit!


Top 10 Tips To Avoid Travel Weight Gain

Just because you're on vacation doesn't mean it's devoid of calories.

Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean it’s devoid of calories.

It’s that time of year again.  Even if you travel year round like I do, it’s that time of year again.  How do I know?  There’s some kind of airport strike in France. This year it’s the air traffic controllers. School’s out or nearly out and you can’t find a transatlantic ticket for under $1,000, and that’s for the last row of economy, next to the loo.   And there’s one more thing: the weight gain that accompanies the opening of the floodgates of permissions that can have you stuffing your face with every fatty, sugary, calorific morsel you spy.

While many of my clients and I deal with this on a year round basis, I’d like to revisit travel weight gain on this summer solstice so you have a little primer to stave off the dreaded excess baggage that might creep around your middle or derriere if you don’t keep it in check. (That was supposed to be a gentle pun about checking baggage – I’m easily amused).

Here they are – my Top 10 Tips To Avoid Travel Weight Gain:

1. Plan Ahead

Planning ahead will keep you in control and take the guessing out of meal decisions while you’re away.  Start by checking out the eateries in the airport from which you’re flying in case you expect to eat before you fly.  Call your hotel and make sure you have a refrigerator in your room so you can pick up breakfast supplies and healthy snacks once you reach your destination.  If you’re flying long haul, order a special meal such as Hindu vegetarian (Yes, really.  I do this every time).  You’ll have a more nutritious meal with more vegetables, less fat and sugar.

2. Eat Veggies at Every Meal

Crowd out your plate with extra orders of veggies and eat them before you touch whatever else is on your plate.  Start your meal with a salad too.  That way, you’ll curb your appetite with the low-calorie, nutritious foods and be less likely to overeat on starches and animal proteins.  Dress your salad with olive oil and lemon juice or a little vinegar.

3. Look For Ways to Exercise

Traveling is not the time to wimp out on your regular exercise routine.  Although if you are committed to exercising daily, chances are you will continue your routine at the hotel or at a nearby gym.  That said, if extra morsels are making their way onto your plate, you’ll have to move more to counter the effects. So, regular exerciser or not, take the stairs, walk a few more blocks or go for a swim.  Or, let your hair down and boogie a bit more than usual.  It doesn’t matter what you do, just keep moving.

4.  Avoid Zoning Out With Menus

Do your eyes glaze over when you look at a menu? Does your brain turn to spaghetti and you forget everything you know about healthy eating as soon as steak au poivre jumps off the page at you? Does the fact that you’re traveling mean that all of the yummy concoctions listed in front of you are just fine to order?  Time to get a grip.  If you wouldn’t eat a double chocolate cheesecake at home, what makes you think it has fewer calories while you’re on vacation?  The same healthy eating rules apply as at home.  Look for simple dishes, maybe two appetizers instead of an entrée and appetizer, and always a green salad.

5. Take Food With You

This is probably the single smartest thing you can do.  Having healthy food with you at all times eradicates excuses and keeps you in charge of your health.  I travel with almonds, seaweed snacks, lentil chips, hummus and guacamole.  If you’re flying, hummus etc are considered creams/lotions and should be in 3-ounce or less containers.  That said, I’ve taken bigger tubs through in hand luggage and not had any problems.  It depends on the TSA of the day!

If you’re driving, take a cooler.  Use freezable foods or drinks as ice blocks.  For example, use frozen high-protein muffins and you’ll have the next day’s breakfast ready in advance.  I’ve been known to check a cooler inside a bag pre-flight for the same reason.  Those of you who know me well, know that I always check luggage.  One of my bags is usually full of healthy food.  I have a bag of oatmeal that’s been all over the place with me.

Other good foods to pack are dates, dried mango, crackers (I recommend Nut-Thins by Blue Diamond), cherries, carrot and celery sticks, smoked salmon, homemade popcorn, and bean salad.

6.  Share A Plate

If you want to let go and have a to-die-for dish or dessert that’s packed with calories, share it.  Don’t deprive yourself – you’ll end up feeling resentful and put yourself at risk for bingeing as a result.  Have a few bites, relish it and appreciate it.  You’re worth it but respect your self-worth by not polishing off all of it.

7.  Drink Wisely

If you’re going to indulge, whether traveling for business or pleasure, beware the perils of overindulgence.  I’m not talking about obvious hangovers, but the lack of energy, blotchy skin and weight gain.  If you’re trying to lose weight, there’s little room for the empty calories in alcohol, I’m afraid.  If that’s not an issue, avoid drinks that have soda as a mixer.  The diet stuff is poisonous and the regular is full of sugar.  Spirits mixed with soda water are okay. A glass or two of wine enjoyed with dinner are fine.

If you’re on vacation, the pina coladas and daiquiris that seem so appealing when you’re sitting out in the heat of the day might be regretted later for more than their high calorie content.  My recommendations are to avoid drinking in the mid-day sun (even though I’m English and married to a mad dog) and – my number one rule – always always have food when you drink to avoid the alcohol entering the blood stream too quickly.  You’ll also be less inclined to end up in embarrassing situations.

8.  Start the Day Right

Rushing at the start of the day and avoiding breakfast sets you up to fail.  That said, I’m not a fan of breakfast for breakfast’s sake because your typical cereal, juice and muffin are full of sugar.  After your initial high, you’ll be asleep at the wheel or, on a plane, dozing with your head on the shoulder of the stranger next to you. (I’ve only done that once – it wasn’t pretty).

A blend of fruit, and oatmeal or eggs with sautéed veggies, especially spinach, get my vote.  If you have access to a green smoothie, great!  If you’re driving, throw the Vitamix, Magic Bullet or NutriBullet in the back of the car and go for it.

If you skip breakfast, you will end up snacking heavily, stuffing yourself at lunch, and you won’t have the energy to function properly.  So there!

9.  Keep It Simple

Lobster Thermidor might sound delightful but it’s full of hidden fat and sodium.  By contrast, grilled lobster with salad will not contribute to junk in your trunk.  A piece of grilled fish, chicken or meat with a medley of vegetables is far better for you than a dish comprised of a bunch of ingredients as long as your arm.  A simply composed plate will have fewer calories and be easier to digest. The more complicated the recipe, the more room there is for hidden nasties and extra calories.

10.  Keep Your Regular Sleep Patterns

A good night’s sleep goes a long way in so many respects, not least in relation to fat burning.  If you don’t get enough sleep, you could find yourself reaching for fatty, sugary foods to help you through your energy slumps the next day. Not getting enough sleep also means that your metabolism won’t function properly and weight loss will be impaired. So, avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening; skip heavy, fatty foods at dinner; and pack your eye patch and ear plugs to drown out strange noises.  Bonne nuit!

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10 Signs You’re a Travel Health Nut

LAX Hilton, October 2012.  In-room safe drawer is used for storing healthy snacks. Very valuable merchandise.

LAX Hilton, October 2012. In-room safe drawer is used for storing healthy snacks. Very valuable merchandise.

These might sound fabricated but they are all true and come from a collaboration of friends who travel frequently on business.  I’m not telling you which ones I contributed!

1.  A handbag clean out reveals almonds, seaweed snacks, chopsticks and a theraband.

2.  Your flight is delayed so you go to the yoga room, not the bar.

3. Your flight is cancelled.  Other passengers are yelling at airline staff; you take the opportunity to listen to a guided meditation.

4.  You book your hotel based on its proximity to Whole Foods.

5.  Luggage allowance = room for sneakers, yoga mat, mega tubs of hummus and your tea kettle.

6.  You research airport dining options before you leave so you can choose the healthiest option.

7. You pack quinoa porridge in a double Ziploc bag in your suitcase so you can eat it for breakfast every day. (See” tea kettle” above).

8. You pack your Vitamix because of fear of not being able to have a green smoothie daily.

9.  You have to explain to TSA agents that you are not carrying drugs in Ziploc bags, but flax, hemp and chia seeds and that, yes, you can eat them.  You deliver a 15-minute lecture on the nutritional benefits of each while the line grows behind you.

10. If your hotel room doesn’t have a refrigerator, you use your ice bucket to keep your perishable snacks cold. Tubs of berries, hummus, raw chocolate, guacamole and salsa all vie for space.


10 Healthy Travel Snacks

Probably more than anything, I’m asked what travelers should take as snacks on their trips.  It’s a good question because there are so many fat- and sugar-laden options at airports (and in supermarkets for that matter…).  Here are my go-to favorites:

Mixed NutsAlmonds. I always have a bag of almonds with me in case disaster (i.e. hunger) strikes.  Fat, fiber and flavor. Quick and easy.  Around 21 almonds equals an ounce and that should more than suffice.  I generally limit myself to ten.

Goji Berries.  What?  The most nutritionally rice berry-fruit on the planet. They are a complete protein source as well as being full of vitamins and minerals. Gojis contribute to longevity and healthy hormones; improve vision; boost the immune system; and they contain a huge amount of hydrogen so are excellent for countering inflight dehydration. You’ll find them at your local health food store.  And, you can get chocolate-covered goji berries but I didn’t tell you that.

Fresh fruit. Flying dehydrates you horribly and fruit is full of the best quality water there is.

Hummus. Even airport shops sell little tubs of hummus nowadays. It’s a yummy blend of protein and carbohydrate, and the fiber helps prevent inflight bloating.

Boxes_CoconutRaw chocolate.  Chocolate is a super food but not when it has soy fillers and artificial ingredients.  Raw chocolate is the real thing and it’s delicious. My favorite is www.vitachocolates.com.  I’m addicted to the coconut flavor.

Organic sweet potato chips.  So much better than the processed snacks you may or may not get on board.  These days I’m addicted to Late July’s products.  www.latejuly.com.

Raw veggies.  Looking for crunch?  Get adventurous.  Carrots and celery are yummy but find your inner radical and bring slices of fennel, jicama and radish with you.  Even better with the hummus!

Chips and salsa. Of course!  Salsa is made from fresh, raw vegetables.  Pair with gluten-free chips such as Late July (mentioned above) or lentil chips (www.mediterraneansnackfoods.com).

Jerky.  I’m including this for the meat lovers and carbo-phobes among you.

Seaweed snacks.  My favorite!  They weigh nothing so I always have a packet in my handbag. Seaweed is a super food and it’s a great protein – excellent for leveling blood sugar. A whole packet is 60 calories but you have to check your teeth afterwards for green bits.

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How I Plan on Changing the World One Meal at a Time – Podcast

As Heard On 300 x 300

I had the good fortune to be interviewed by the Networker for Business Women about my work with business travelers: keeping you fit, healthy and happy on the road!

Tune in and chill out.


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Eating for Energy When Traveling, Tip #3

Fresh salmon steak, isolated on whiteCOMBINE THE RIGHT FOODS

Let’s consider what actually happens in the inner sanctum of your digestive system and how that affects your energy level.  There’s no doubt that after a large meal of meat, potatoes, bread, and dessert that you can feel the effects, usually in the form of a need for a nap.  That’s when the caffeine and energy drinks are added to the wonderful concoction that’s percolating away in our intestines.

The body uses between 5 and 15% of calories/energy ingested to digest food.  Digestion is the most energy consuming function of the body. It takes more energy than running, swimming or bike riding.

The easiest way to keep that energy for your performance and to avoid mid-afternoon crashes is to pay attention to the combinations of food you eat.  This is relatively easy to do and it’s one of MY main secrets for staying trim while I’m traveling.

Here’s how it works: Basically, the simpler our meals are, the better the digestion will be so the principles of food combining primarily involve not mixing proteins and starches.  So, meat or fish wouldn’t combine with rice, starchy veggies such as potatoes, or breads. These are the combinations that stay in the digestive system for hours as it works to push the food out of the stomach and then down about 30 feet of intestinal tract.  A badly combined meal will take up to 40 hours to take that little journey.  A typical Christmas dinner takes about 72 hours to digest.  Plus, the longer food stays in your body, the more it putrefies because it’s gurgling away at 98.6 degrees and that results in toxic residue.  It takes a tremendous amount of energy to deal with all that digestion and elimination.

By contrast, having your meat or fish with vegetables or salad, or your pasta with vegetables or a marinara sauce means that the meal is digested more easily, you expend less energy on digesting and save it for activity or brain power, and you won’t want to take a nap after each meal. The faster a food passes through our system, providing us with adequate nutrition and then exiting, the healthier it is.

Quick guidelines.

Proteins and starches do not mix.

So no, meat sandwiches; pasta and meat balls, California rolls, burger and fries, or bagels and cream cheese.

Proteins do mix with vegetables.

So have a salad to start your meal, then meat or fish with veggies.  Grilled fish on a bed of greens.  Steak sautéed with spinach.

Starches do mix with vegetables.

That’s vegetable risottos, pasta primavera, baked sweet potato and salad.

Different starches do mix.

That’s rice and beans; black bean taco; bean burrito.

Different proteins do not mix.

Proteins are the hardest foods to digest so the simpler you can keep it, the better. That means digesting them one at a time. Fish appetizer followed by meat main course won’t work.  Fish followed by fish or poultry followed by poultry will work.

Fats do not mix well with protein; pair moderately.

A little salad dressing is fine. Cheese on your burger isn’t.

Fats do mix with starches.

That’s license for pasta with oil and garlic, even pumpkin ravioli with sage butter sauce, a little butter on a baked potato.  Guacamole or hummus with chips or veggies.  Avocado sushi rolls. Bagel with butter.

Fruits should be eaten on an empty stomach.

There’s a reason for this.  Fruit has to be allowed to digest first or it ferments on top of previously digested food, leading to indigestion.  Fruit at the end of a meal is not a good idea for this very reason.  You really need to have a couple of hours before eating it after other foods.  Best to eat it first.  Eat your fruit and then wait 20 minutes before eating anything else.

Melon should always be eaten on its own, not even with other fruit.  That’s the only way it digests.

Fruit does mix with raw greens (except melons)

So, a salad with grilled peaches, or berries in salad are fine.  Green smoothies are a great combination.  Different fruits with a bit of kale or spinach thrown in are a great way to start your day and you don’t taste the greens.

You might think this sounds draconian but it’s not.  These are guidelines.  Play with them and experiment with your diet.  See how you feel afterwards.  Maybe you only do this at breakfast and lunch so you can have more energy during the day.  Maybe you do it at night so you can sleep better.  The liver is the body’s janitor and it works from around 10 PM until 2 PM onwards.  The more help you can give it the better.

What about coffee? If you follow these tips, you won’t need a ton of coffee to keep you going.  Introduce one of these tips at a time and ask yourself if you really need a cup mid-afternoon or is it just force of habit?  Please don’t drink it before bed.  A cup of hot water with juice of a lemon will help your liver start its night time routine.