Jayne McAllister

Travel Wellness Expert and Author

Leave a comment

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.


Leave a comment

30 Tips for Staying Slim and Sane Through the Holidays: Part 6

Holiday Survival Tip #11: Remember How Many Days There Are Between Thanksgiving and New Year

People are so worried about what they eat between Christmas and the New Year, but they really should be worried about what they eat between the New Year and Christmas,” unknown.

There are 33 days between Thanksgiving and New Year. Do you really want to let go for a twelfth of your year?  You can stay on track through the holiday period like you have for the rest of the year.  The odd splurge and fabulous dinner are, of course, allowed.  Throwing caution to the wind is not.

Holiday Survival Tip #12:  Get Enough Sleep

The relationship between weight management and sleep is underrated.  For a start, if you feel rested and have enough energy, chances are you won’t be reaching for pick-me-ups (usually sugar and caffeine) at all hours of the day.

Secrets to getting a good night’s sleep:

  • Don’t eat too late (post 8 PM).  The liver goes to work sorting out your system between 10 PM and 2 AM.  Help it out by not eating too late and you’ll avoid indigestion.
  • Don’t drink too much.  The second glass of wine inevitably leads to a 4 AM internal wake-up call.  Trust me, I know.  Without vino, I sleep for 9 glorious, uninterrupted hours.
  • Start cutting back on liquids in the evening so you don’t have to get up to go to the bathroom during the night.  Drink most of your water in the morning to rehydrate and the early part of the afternoon to keep you going and to stave off hunger.

Holiday Survival Tip #13: Keep The Unhealthy Stuff Out of Sight

FeiernOut of sight is truly out of mind.  While that might not be good for the love of your life, it’s perfect for the inevitable influx of candies and cookies that should be starting to head your way about now. If you’re not going to re-gift them, stick them in the back of a cupboard where you have to make an effort to get them when you really want them.  If they’re in plain sight, that’s an invitation to mindless eating.

Finally, how the heck are you doing with these tips?  Do let me know in the comments below.

Leave a comment

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.

Leave a comment

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!


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.


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.


A Holiday Meal Made For Two

Ready for Serving.The Holidays are about sharing with family and friends, an elaborate meal with all the trimmings. But what if? What if you find yourself in a situation where the family are miles away and they can’t travel to you because they’re set in their own traditions or airfare is too exorbitant.  What if you can’t leave town to travel to them because you have work obligations.  You’re an empty nester. You’re new in town and don’t know anyone. Or, you simply want to enjoy a day or two off in your own space AND cook a sumptuous meal that you can eat whenever you want.

Maybe the football isn’t quite over and you don’t have to worry about missing the end of the game or keeping ten people waiting.  Maybe you don’t want a huge meal with tons of leftovers.  You might be on a journey to health and a traditional dinner would look paltry (meant to be pun on “poultry”) if you tried the light version.  Here’s your answer.

Four years ago, Bon Appetit ran a recipe from Blue Velvet in LA. around the time my husband and I were to have our first Holiday alone. Sounds grim – I mean just the two of us. We weren’t about to embark on an elaborate turkey journey, although we could have.  We’re reluctant to eat the meat of a vulture that eats its own feces but we can play along for the best of parties.

Frankly, I’d rather eat the sides.  But, we’re at a certain age in which we watch our fluctuating waistlines thus we’re really not anxious to be left with a bunch of wilting veg and heavy sides to eat over the course of several days.  So, leafing through the December 2008 issue of Bon Appetit, there it was. A recipe that sounded completely absurd but very interesting.  With no one to answer to but ourselves, we had nothing to lose.

It sounded like we had found the perfect diner a deux. And we were right.  In fact, we have made this our “go to” dinner for Thanksgiving and Christmas since 2008.  I’m delighted to share with you Duck with Lentils and Bacon-Date Puree. 

This warm lentil salad goes beautifully with the duck and the puree.

This warm lentil salad goes beautifully with the duck and the puree.

What’s different about this menu? It’s portion controlled – do one duck breast per two diners. Most of it can be prepared ahead of time (and thus pots cleaned and put away before the main event).  It delivers a huge amount of flavor.  You can argue that it’s healthy or at least healthier than a traditional Holiday dinner.  It reminds me of France.  It ranks up there when I’m asked, “What’s the best meal you’ve ever had?”

Duck with Lentils and Bacon-Date Puree

The recipe seems really long, but you can make the bacon-date puree and the lentils at your leisure, put them into serving dishes, and wash and put away the pans.  When you’re ready to eat, whoever’s in charge of sauteeing the duck can go for it while you sit and have a glass of wine.

6 servings if you have company. If not, I make the full amount of lentils and bacon-date puree, then my husband sears a duck breast as we need it. Be warned – that tends to be just about every day until the puree has gone.

We order our magret de canard (duck breast) fresh from www.dartagnan.com.

Bacon-Date Puree

  • 3 slices thick-cut applewood-smoked bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2 thick pieces
  • 2 tablespoons brandy
  • 1 1/2 cups (packed) pitted dates (about 10 ounces)
  • 1 1/4 cups (or more) water


  • 8 cups water
  • 1 cup French green lentils (lentilles de puy – you can find them in finer food stores.  They hold their shape the best so hold out for them rather than regular brown or green lentils.  Red lentils are for Indian food).
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled, smashed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 7 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stick, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped shallots
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar


  • 3 1-pound Muscovy duck breast halves with skin
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Sherry wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth

Bacon-Date Puree: Saute bacon in small saucepan over medium heat until crisp.  Stir in brandy, scraping up browned bits.  Add dates and 1 1/4 cups water; bring to boil.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer until dates are very soft, about 12 minutes.  Transfer to blender.  Puree date mixuter until smooth, adding more water by tablespoonfuls if too thick to blend.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Can be made 3 days ahead.  Cover and chill.

Lentils: Place 8 cups water, lentils, garlic, and bay leaves in medium saucepan.  Sprinkle with salt.  Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium and simmer until lentils are just tender but still firm to bite, about 15 minutes or longer, depending on type of lentils.  Drain; rinse under cold water to coll.  Drain; discard garlic and bay leaves. Transfer to large bowl.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy medium skillet over medium heat.  Add carrot, celery, and 1/3 cup shallots.  Saute until carrots and celery are crisp-tender, about 4 minutes.  Stir carrot mixture into lentils.  Mix remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons shallots and red wine vinegar in small bowl.  Let mixture soak 5 minutes then whisk in remaining 6 tablespoons oil.  Add vinaigrette to lentil mixture; toss to coat.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Can be made 2 hours ahead.  Let stand at room temperature.

Perfectly cooked...

Perfectly cooked…

Duck: Using sharp knife, score skin of duck breasts diagonally to creat 3/4-inch-wide diamond pattern.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Heat 1 large skillet and 1 medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Place 2 duck breasts in large skillet and 1 duck breast in medium skillet, skin side down.  Cook until skin is brown and crisp, about 8 minutes.

Turn duck, skin side up, and cook until brown and thermometer inserted horizontally into center registers 130F, about 6 minutes.  Transfer duck to work surface.  Drain all but 1 tablespoon fat from 1 skillet.  Add shallot and saute until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes.  Add Sherry vinegar and stir, scraping up browned bits.  Add broth; bring to boil.  Season sauce with salt and pepper.

Thinly slice duck breasts.  Spoon 1/4 cup date puree in center of each of 6 plates and spread with back of spoon, forming well in center; spoon lentils into each well.  Place duck breast slices atop lentils, divinding equally.  Drizzle sauce over and serve.