Jayne McAllister

Travel Wellness Expert and Author


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7 Ways to Make Your Conference Healthier

Frustrated colleagues playing at conference callI’m planning a conference in London later in the year (much more about that in due course). Given that I spend most of my life helping people stay healthy while they’re traveling, I want my event to reflect that. The last conference I attended was in the bowels of a huge property with room-less windows. We had soggy sandwiches in brown paper bags for lunch (the bags were delicious). Breakfast was cheap coffee, sugary muffins, and under ripe bananas. Thankfully we were on our own for dinner and had plenty of good options locally.

Being subjected to artificial light all day while being sustained by sugary foods has a profound effect on morale and energy levels. It doesn’t have to be that way. Here are my tips for making conference experiences healthier, more comfortable and more productive.

  1. Make sure you have healthy dining options at every meal or break. The purpose is not to have delegates gnawing on granola for the sake of it, but to provide foods that will sustain and nourish them, meaning that mid-morning and afternoon energy slumps will be avoided. “Options” is the key word. Some folk will want their cookies and cakes. It’s about making sure that attendees aren’t obliged to eat one way.
  2. Bored business training at officeBook a room with windows. Many conference facilities are tucked away in basements and don’t have natural light. Being deprived of the opportunity to visually connect with the outdoors leads to low energy and morale. Even if artificial light is going to be used, having a room with a view of the outside world will make attendees more productive, less fatigued and more positive.
  3. Allow plenty of breaks. It’s unreasonable to expect delegates to sit for hours at a time and stay focused and attentive. Ninety minutes is the recommended maximum for continued input without a break. People need to get up and move around after sitting and listening for long periods so they can recharge and be ready to absorb information from the next session.
  4. Have stretch breaks. Sitting for several hours will lead to spinal compression and low energy. After coffee, tea, and lunch breaks, have someone lead 4 to 5 minutes of stretching so that attendees feel revitalized for the next session and more aware of their posture. Local yoga and Pilates studios will usually be glad to help out.
  5. Hydrate. Check what kind of water the property is prepared to offer during your event. Mineral water with its high electrolyte content is much better than tap or filtered water for cellular balance, energy levels and overall feelings of wellbeing. Make sure your contract with the venue includes an unlimited supply of mineral water.
  6. Offer opportunities for exercise. If delegates are staying overnight, make sure the property has a decent work out facility (or a nearby gym), swimming pool or safe jogging paths.
  7. Make sure the property is in a safe location, especially for female attendees. My pal Carolyn Pearson, founder of Maiden-voyage.com says it’s crucial to work with a female-friendly hotel so you can take the quality of accommodation and service for granted, leaving you free to focus on your program content and delegates.


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Healthy Travel With Kids, Part 3 of 3

The final in my 3-part series on keeping kids fueled and fed healthily while on the road.

little girls inside car eating candy stickMost restaurants’ children’s menus feature food I wouldn’t give to a raccoon. Chicken nuggets morphed from unmentionable parts of the bird into unrecognizable parts of the bird . (I’ve never actually seen a nugget on a chicken…). Then there are hot dogs, the single worst meat we can feed ourselves or our loved ones, linked inextricably to cancer and a host of other diseases. Noodles and butter? Prepare for the sugar spike and dive, ensuing grumpiness and repeated hunger in no time at all.

So, as the hunger cries reach a crescendo in the back of the car, what are the best options to nurture your children (and yourself) and save your sanity?

When it’s time for your own caffeine fix, you can take advantage of Starbucks’ decent options for feeding the fam, as long as you lower your eyes from the pastry selection to the refrigerated shelves below. Check out the Bistro Boxes. The Protein box is an excellent choice with cage-free egg, white cheddar cheese, honey peanut spread, grapes , apple, and multi-grain muesli bread. That is a balanced selection of protein, and fiber-filled good carbs that will keep your cherub full and hopefully calm for quite some time.

The Chicken and Hummus bistro box also gets a big thumbs-up. In addition to its headlining ingredients – including recognizable chicken in the form of grilled breast strips – it has cucumber, grape tomatoes and wheat pita.

Starbucks recently launched its Evolution Harvest brand of healthy snacks, which includes snack bars and trail mixes in a variety of tasty flavors. Other offerings include Blueberry Pomegranate twists, Gourmet Popcorn and organic, low-fat milks in kid portion containers.

When little stomachs are signalling that it’s time to pull off the road, check the Chipotle app for the nearest location. Unlike most fast-food restaurants, Chipotle’s meats are claimed to be naturally raised; they source their vegetables locally and organic whenever possible; and it’s really easy to find the right mix of tasty and healthy.

The small quesadillas come with a fiber-filled side of rice and beans that will keep little ones (and grown-ups) full for hours. But the best kid-friendly item of all is the build-your-own Taco Kit. Kids do so much better with food when they’re involved in its preparation. The taco kit keeps them occupied and satiated all at once. It’s served on a tray for easy building, but a few wipes might be in order too.

 


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Healthy Family Travel, Part 2 of 3

Kendra Cubs Game

Kendra Thornton and her beautiful family.

Continuing my 3-part series of how to keep the entire family healthy during vacations, today the lovely Kendra Thornton takes the wheel. Kendra is mother to three beautiful children . Before being promoted to the position of full time mom, she was the Director of Communications at Orbitz. Kendra lives in Chicago where her family is her number one priority in everyday life.

When my family and I travel on vacation, I do all that I can to ensure that we stay fit. This can be challenging at times but our combined efforts to stay healthy on the road, pay off. We stay fit, look great and have a ton of fun in the process. Here are my top 5 tips for keeping the whole family in the best possible shape through the vacation season.

1. Beat the Buffet

Buffets are just part of the temptation on vacation, laden as they usually are with delicious, caloric and unhealthy fare. The secret is to take the “all you can eat” out of buffet and fill your plates only once to reduce the number of calories you consume. Be sure to include lots of salad and vegetables on your plate to “crowd out” the less healthy options, then add small amounts of the items that you absolutely have to have.

2. Dodge Dehydration

It can be easy to get dehydrated if you’re taking long flights or trying to avoid too many pit stops while driving. Be mindful of this and make sure to drink plenty of water throughout your trips. Water bottles with built-in purifiers, such as Bobble Bottles, are a godsend. They are easy to carry and save a fortune on bottled water because they can be filled with tap water. Make sure you’re refilling them regularly when visiting attractions or making excursions in the heat.

3. Take to the Water

Being on the water is great fun for all of the family. Try to rent a watercraft when the opportunity presents itself. A rowboat, canoe or paddleboat gives you the chance to use muscles and burn calories while you are out and about. This enables you to have a workout while having fun at the same time. Furthermore, working out in this environment enables you to enjoy some great bonding while you are on vacation.

4. Play Together

Playing outdoor games together as a family is a great way to have fun and stay active. Pick games that are suitable for all age groups, such as shuffleboard, badminton and horseshoes . Volleyball, baseball and football won’t have universal appeal. Our latest favorite is Nerf balls while we are on the beach. Nerf balls are adaptable, durable and we even use them to play fetch to tire out our dog. They truly keep the whole family active! (Note- avoid the foam balls. See nerf.hasbro.com for more information).

5. Keep A Routine

Keeping a routine is important for any family, and it’s especially true when on the road. Finding a hotel with a well-appointed gym can help maintain your routine from home. I was able to book a fabulous hotel with a great gym for our recent trip to Orlando. With so many places to stay however, the process can be daunting. Sites like Gogobot help as you can read user reviews. Whether we are traveling or at home, there are healthy snacks and activities. This type of routine is perfect for keeping us fit and healthy wherever we go.

 


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Healthy Travel with Kids, Part 1 of 3

Two kids is going by car without parents. Girl eats candy, boy dWhile my focus is usually business travel wellness, there are times when the most hardened of road warriors are faced with the thought of a trip that terrifies them – vacationing with the family, especially road trips. This is when the perks of solo travel routines cede to cries of “are we there yet?” “I need to go potty” and, worse yet, “I’m huuuuuuungry!” This week I’m partnering with Kendra Thornton to bring you a series of three blogs about keeping the family healthy and happy during summer travels.

The worst thing you can do is present restless children with sugar ridden snacks to keep them happy on the road. Conversely, packing up a family, stuffing them into a car and leaving more or less on time is challenging enough in itself. Wrapping your head around healthy, practical and tasty snacks is another matter.

Worry not, the following suggestions will tax neither your time nor your sanity. All items are store-bought, delicious and high in fiber, releasing energy steadily to avoid the sugar rushes that keep kids bouncing up and down in the back of the car.

  • Individual pots of hummus with baby carrots and celery sticks to dip. If the kids won’t eat veggies, here are a couple of healthy chips and cracker ideas:
  • Late July Organic Snacks (www.latejuly.com) has an enticing range of multi-grain snack chips, including sweet potato and “Sub Lime.” Their Mini Sandwich Crackers and Mini Sandwich Cookies are good in a pinch too.
  • Blue Diamond’s Nut-Thins are handy for anyone who’s avoiding gluten.   These nut and rice cracker snacks come in several flavors including sea salt, almond, hazelnut and pecan.
  • Fresh fruit should always be on hand instead of candy. Little pots of berries, bananas and apples are good bets. Peeling mangoes or even oranges in the back of the car might not be so appealing.
  • For the younger kids, visit www.plumorganics.com for a great selection of snacks, including the Jammy Sammy Blueberry and Oatmeal, and Fruit and Veggie Mushy Blueberry Blitz. The company prides itself on using ingredients that are not only organic, but also free of genetically modified organisms.
  • Trail mix is another good substitute for candy. If you want to make your own, mix ½ cup almonds, ½ cup pistachios, ½ cup dried blueberries, ½ cup coconut flakes and ¼ cup raw chocolate nibs.
  • Use bottles of drinking water as ice blocks for your cooler so there’s always something to drink. Keep away from juice and soda as much as possible because of the added sugar.


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30 Tips for Staying Slim and Sane Through the Holidays: Part 12. Final!

Holiday Survival Tip #29: Make A Commitment Now For the New Year

A New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other.” Author unknown.

2014 new years resolution is DIET!In just over a couple of weeks, the New Year’s resolution frenzy will begin.  Sadly many hopes of being slim and trim will be thwarted by unreasonable expectations and lack of support and accountability.  Forty-five percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions; only eight percent reach their goal.

Take the step now to commit so that once January 1st comes, you already have your ducks in a row.  Shameless plug – my 3-week Dine Out Lose Weight program starts on January 13th.  Reserve your spot now and you will have set yourself up for success because I will be supporting you each step of the way.  Confucius said, “Success depends on previous preparation and without such preparation, there is sure to be failure.”

Holiday Survival Tip #30: Wear a Seatbelt and Don’t Smoke

I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist this, but here are the two single, most effective action steps you can take for your long term health.  Like all the other tips, follow these year round and you’ll be the healthiest version of yourself that you can be.

Thank you so much for joining me for the 30 Tips for Staying Slim and Sane Through the Holidays.  It has been both my pleasure and a blast sharing them with you.


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30 Tips for Staying Slim and Sane Through the Holidays: Part 10

Holiday Survival Tip #23: Eat mindfully

Just how much are you eating mindlessly?

Just how much are you eating mindlessly?

Another one that we’ve heard before but we’re all guilty of it.  When was the last time you watched TV or read a book while eating?  And at this most wonderful time of the year when you’re glued to the telly watching Miracle on 34th Street and sobbing your eyes out, you definitely won’t notice how many cookies you’re eating.  The longer you watch TV while eating, the more you will eat.

Brian Wansink in his fabulous book, “Mindless Eating,” tells that people who watch TV for an hour while eating will eat 28% more than those who watch and eat for half an hour.  In this case, it was popcorn and carrots.  What they were eating really didn’t make much difference.

Holiday Survival Tip #24: Distract Yourself When Eating Between Meals

If you’re eating between meals, ask yourself if you’re really hungry or just looking for something to do.  The whole concept of eating five or six times per day is a relatively new, American concept.  Traditionally people have eaten three squares and been quite satisfied.  Then the snack food industry came along and changed all that.

Before you reach for the peppermint bark, sugar cookies or eggnog ice cream, go for a walk around the block, call a friend or play with your Holiday train set.  By keeping your mind occupied, you’ll forget about eating.

One of the same Brian Wansink’s friends commented to him how he lost 30 pounds within a year by eating anything he wanted.  The trick, apparently, was that if he had a craving when he wasn’t hungry, he would say out loud, “I’m not hungry but I’m going to eat this anyway.”  Apparently declaration a voce alta was enough to deter him.  Try it and see!

Holiday Survival Tip #25: Take a dance break.

Get up and dance!

Get up and dance!

I think Christmas is about celebration and, come on, on the inside everyone wants to dance.” TobyMac.

This is the one time of the year that we’re bound to boogie.  If the thought of dancing the night away at the office party isn’t your thing, then I strongly recommend closing the curtains, turning up Mariah and truly dancing like no one’s watching because they’re not.  If you have a dog or cat witnessing you access your inner Lady Gaga, reassurances and treats might be in order afterwards.

Dancing uplifts your energy and mood, burns a ton of calories, and puts you in the festive spirit.  It’s also a good distraction tactic (see tip #24, above).  This time of year is a free for all, so go for it.


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30 Tips for Staying Slim and Sane Through the Holidays: Part 9

Holiday Survival Tip #20: Re-gift the chocolate

Christmas is a stocking stuffed with sugary goodness.” Mo Rocca

Portrait of beautiful young girl with chocolate cupcakeRe-gift?  Are you joking? Okay, within reason.  A box of Godiva’s new line in truffles is one thing but your fifth box of Russell Stover’s is another. Keep a little quality goodness for when it’s needed and donate the rest to a homeless shelter or food bank.  Spread the cheer to those who don’t have as much.  You’ll feel really good and look really good inside and out.

Holiday Survival Tip #21: Fat, fiber, protein at every meal.

Qué?  One of the secrets to not overeating is to balance your nutrients.  Does this mean counting calories, fat and carb grams?  No.  Making food about numbers creates food obsessives.  Combining the right foods at each meal makes for a satisfied body and mind, and fewer cravings and overeating.

Aim for good fats (nuts, avocadoes, oily fish, olive oil); quality protein (lean meats, fish, organic eggs and legumes), and fiber (vegetables and fruits).  For more information about balancing foods, give me a shout at info@jaynemcallister.com.

Holiday Survival Tip #22: Don’t give up when you get derailed

On December 13th you over indulge at a party.  That’s it, you say.  I’m done. I have no control.  I may as well wait until January 1st.  And since when did one little lapse make anyone a failure?  Time to pick yourself up, stand tall and carry on.  What would make you happier right now? Wandering down the path of self-destruction or picking up where you left off?  Every little step you take now is going to take off the pressure on January 1st (we’ll talk about that later).