Web Exclusives: PawPlus

September 27, 2006:

Studentís diet book an antidote for the Ďfreshman 15í

Many students fear the ďfreshman 15Ē ≠ weight gained during the first year of college ≠ but Daphne Oz í08 actually lost 10 pounds during her first semester. In her new book, The Dorm Room Diet, she shares her strategy for success. Her book, published by Newmarket, offers an eight-step plan addressing nutrition, exercise, supplements, campus diet traps, and motivation. The daughter of a cardiologist who is also a best-selling author, Oz admits to loving ice cream; her nutritional plan allows for such occasional indulgences. She spoke with PAW intern Lindsey Marie Huddle í07 [a condensed version of this interview appears in the Sept. 27, 2006 issue of PAW].

To read an excerpt of The Dorm Room Diet, click here.

Why did you decide to write this book?

What really started the The Dorm Room Diet was realizing when I got to school that it was such a completely new environment. I was living away from home for the first time.I had to find my own food; where, when, and what to eat were all my decisions. Youíre trying to juggle all of these stresses ≠ academic, social, emotional. Everything had changed, and I realized that there is no guide book that would help college students navigate that path. Ö All of this independence and freedom is thrust on us, and you have the opportunity to make that work for you and make you a healthier person. Thatís really what my inspiration was.

A lot of students see this freedom as a chance to go wild ≠ to eat and drink whatever they want. Have you had friends who have done that, or do Princeton students tend to be healthier?

At Princeton, my experience has been that kids are really intelligent and, in most cases, they have a lot of this information already on hand. They just donít know how to apply it.

What differentiates your book from all of the other diet and health books on the shelves?

What I think is really unique about The Dorm Room Diet is that itís the first book Iíve seen that really takes into account the unique pressures that exist at college and as part of independent living. So this is applicable to young adults living in an apartment for the first time. You are forced to forage through various settings to get your food, and you have to do it while surrounded by your peers 24-7, and you have to manage your schedule so that time, budget, and storage are kept in check. So it really just addresses those issues that ďadult diet booksĒ donít take into account. I donít have the resources to go to a supermarket every day and buy fresh fruit like an adult could. I also donít have a kitchen ≠ at least at Princeton, I donít ≠ where I could go steam my vegetables and prepare a brown sauce. Itís something that is a luxury that people take for granted, which college students just donít have. So what I think is really unique about this book is that because I am living this experience, I know what you have to work with, I know how difficult it can be, and I know that there is a solution.

From reading the book, it seems that there are a lot of suggestions that older people could adopt and incorporate into their lifestyles. What do you see as the two or three best tips that everyone, not just college students, could benefit from?

I think that everyone could benefit from the tip that you should be drinking half of your body weight [in pounds] in ounces of water every day. Itís something that I follow religiously. It improves bodily function, my skin is clearer, my energy is better, and Iím less hungry because Iím full from the water. So I think thatís the first thing that everyone could benefit from. The second would be: Donít eat less than two hours before bed, because it will make your sleep less deep. Your digestion will keep working while youíre getting into bed, and that means that your body doesnít shut down fully, so youíre kind of awake throughout the night. And youíre packing in all of those calories without any time to burn them off over the course of the day. My own personal habit is that I like to eat about every two or three hours, and the reason is that it means that I can go through the day and have a variety of meals. So I never feel deprived or like Iím hungry at any one meal, so I donít need to binge on anything. Itís nice because it means that I get to have a little taste of everything all the time.

Would you say that the Princeton University dining options ≠ whether itís the Frist Campus Center, your eating club, or the dining halls ≠ are conducive to following The Dorm Room Diet?

I have to say, I think that Princeton is a particularly health-conscious campus. I think itís largely due to the fact that students, as buyers, demand that. I think that we have an intelligentpopulation that is aware that what they eat today will directly affect what they look like at 50. For instance, the dining hall always has the grill option, which is great. I ate grilled chicken all the time. The salad bar is great. I love the soup options. And they also did a good job of offering vegetarian choices, and even whole-grain cereals if you felt like grabbing a quick breakfast on the go. In terms of the U-Store, I was just speaking with Virginia France,who is one of the coordinators there, and she was telling me that they actually have a special buyer who stocks the U-Store with health foods. We have tons of nuts and granola, we have low-fat yogurt, we have all of those salads from the Moondoggie Cafe [a restaurant off of Witherspoon Street], soy crisps ... all sorts of things that we take for granted.If you are at Princeton, you have no excuse to not follow this.

Youíve mentioned that Princeton students are very aware of the fact that what they eat will affect their performance, how they age, etc.Do you think that Princeton students are too concerned with their diets and body images?

I remember my first day going to the gym at Princeton was such a memorable experience. I got there, and all 40 of the ellipticals were being used. There were 15 girls on them who were all reading a textbook while pedaling at light speed, and probably listening to a book on tape on their headphones. It was the kind of multi-tasking that you joke about, and it was just preposterous. I do think that because weíre such a motivated group of students, we have a particular interest in self-perfection. But as a country we spend a billion dollars per year on diet-related products. This era is just one of health-consciousness, which is great. It does verge on obsession at times, but thatís not necessarily a bad thing if youíre achieving health in a healthy way. It is potentially one of the most crucial things of daily life ≠ what you put into your body, how well you exercise, how well you supplement ≠ because it affects your productivity and your effectiveness in everything else. So I donít think that Princeton is disproportionately interested in health, but I think that theyíre just better educated in how to be successful in their goals.

What do you see as the biggest diet pitfall on campus?

Frist. I love their salads, but I have to say that between the frozen yogurt machine and the little ice cream things that they put in at the consoles ...

And they added Bent Spoon ice cream to the lineup this summer ...

Theyíre trying to kill me!Iím an ice cream fanatic, and I also love baking. So Iíll bake cookies for friends, and theyíll get half of the batch!

How do you, personally, overcome these pitfalls?

To be honest, knowing that itís always there, Iím generally less-tempted to indulge. The worst for me is when Iím out to dinner at a nice restaurant in the city, and they have an extravagant dessert that I wonít be able to get anywhere else. Thatís when I feel the need to indulge, and in my mind thatís totally OK, because itís a special experience. Itís not like I have to eat the whole thing, or I order two, or anything like that ≠ itís just something that I want to have, and then you get back on the bandwagon immediately afterwards. At Frist, the ice cream tastes the same all the time. And with Bent Spoon, if they have the mint cookies and cream, Iíll go for it, but otherwise itís not that big of a deal. To be honest with you, itís just so easy for me to stay on this plan of substitution where I can and moderation where I canít. So if Iím going to be satisfied eating an apple instead of a brownie, Iíll do that. But if I really feel like Iím going to end up beingobsessed over the brownie and depressed if I canít eat it, then Iíll have it ≠ but Iíll have half of it, or just one.

Have any of your friends followed this plan and met with success?

Iíve been really fortunate to have found friends at Princeton who are sort of voluntarily health-conscious. And it has to do with coming from metropolitan areas ≠ a lot of them from L.A. and that area. But knowing that I wrote a book on the subject, itís funny because Iíve sort of become a magnet for health information. People ask me especially about vitamins and supplements, because thatís something that people havenít quite found mainstream yet.

Letís talk a little about supplements.Is there one vitamin that you can take that will have strong results, or should we be taking an assortment of them?

That is the idea behind a multivitamin: It incorporates a bunch of various minerals that you need to be healthy. And again, these are supplements ≠ these are not substitutions. Theyíre going to boost your levels of various minerals that you need to get from food otherwise. If you could only swallow one pill, take the multivitamin. The things that I find crucial are essential fatty acids. People our age are fairly vain, and it actually works in our best interest, because it is a driving force to get you to take these vitamins and eat healthily, because it will make you look much better and feel better. So essential fatty acids will boost skin and hair renewal so that your hair grows better and shinier, and your skin is more moisturized and plump and beautiful-looking. And a multivitamin is great because it gives you that boost. And I take vitamin C all year long because it will boost your immune system, especially at college where youíre surrounded by all of these various colds and flus. I take a lot of vitamins ≠ I take like 10 other things too ≠ but those are the three that I would really find to be essential.

Alcohol can be a huge diet pitfall in college. Itís hard to lose weight if youíre drinking, but itís also hard to be in college and completely avoid alcohol altogether. Whatís your advice?

Itís difficult, because if your goal in going out is to get absolutely trashed, you canít do that any other way besides drinking. So youíre going to be consuming, depending on your tolerance, however many drinks - but if youíre saying that each one is about 100 calories, youcould be eating nothing the whole day, and get your full dayís worth of calories just by drinking. And thatís terrifying, because the last thing you want to do is depriveyourself of all these things that you love to eat, just to consume them all when youíre blacked out anyway. My advice is that drinking is absolutely a critical part of college life, and itís an experience that you donít want to miss out on. I certainly donít ever recommend something in the book that I feel would have taken away from my college experience. So my advice would be to drink socially, if you want to partake in a group activity or go out with friends, but obviously donít drink dangerously, and donít drink stupidly.Ö If you want one night of just ludicrousness, have that one night, but donít down 20 beers every time you go to the Street.

One of my favorite parts of The Dorm Room Diet is your discussion of motivation. What was your motivation for losing weight ≠ and now, maintaining your weight ≠ and what advice do you give people for finding their own motivation?

The thing that I saw about college was that this was representing my transition into adulthood; this was representing my adult life beginning. And I really didnít want that to reflect the same body-image issues that high school saw. And thatís not to say that in high school I was very conscious of feeling a certain way about the way that I looked. I was an athlete and I was in very good shape, and I also had a layer of fat over all the muscle. So I was a big girl, but I was never the depressed, overweight girl. So the pressure to change wasnít realized until I saw this as my opportunity to change. Being independent and becoming an adult represented a new phase in my life where I could be something different. And so that was my motivation, but what I think is interesting is that people can be motivated by such different things. My aunt was motivated to lose 20 pounds when she was getting married. So, depending on how permanent your motivation is, youíll be able to maintain that. When I was in high school, and being overweight held me back from performing as well as I could in sports, that was depressing. I vowed that I would never be the one stepping on my own feet and not letting myself be as successful as possible. So thatís a very long-term goal, and it always keeps me motivated. Itís also important for me to set short-term goals ≠ like Iíll lose five pounds this month. So itís important to chooseshort-term goals that are easily realizable and that youíll be successful at to give you confidence, but also to have a life goal: I want to be the best me, I want to be successfulat something, I want this grander-scheme thing that will keep me going long-term. I think in terms of finding your motivation, look at places in your life that you find yourself consistently being upset with ≠ itís not something that creeps up on you, itís something that youíre constantly thinking of. Especially at Princeton, thereís so many people there to help you down that path. And by virtue of being at Princeton, youíre an extremely intelligent person with an enormous amount of motivation and willpower. In the book, I can give you so much ≠ I can give you information, and I can give you my story and hope that it inspires you, but ultimately it is up to you to find the motivation and then make that transformation.

What has been your best experience in publishing the book?

What Iíve enjoyed most is hearing peopleís reactions ≠ especially interviewers who have read the book, and said, ďI wish I had this when I was in college.ĒI tried really hard to make the writing style like what I had written when I had done magazine articles. I really wanted this to be an accessible book that is fun and easy to read ≠ like I was talking to a friend, not like I was talking down from my high horse or soapbox. So I love hearing that response where itís an excitement about the book, and a feeling like this is a really useful product, which is the whole idea. It was written because I felt like there was a big need for it, and itís nice to have that affirmed.

If someone reads The Dorm Room Diet and wants to take just one thing away from it, what lifestyle change would bring the maximum results?

The one thing that I really want people to take away is what I said before about substitution when you can and moderation where you canít. That is a really simple thing to remember, and it can be applied to any life and any lifestyle. So what that means is that you need two things: You need to be in tune with what you actually want. If you want to be healthy, then you donít actually want to eat that second helping of ice cream. But if you want to eat that second helping of ice cream, you need to evaluate where that want is coming from. If you make a conscious decision to indulge, then thatís the choice that you make, and ultimately you need to make choices that are going to make you happy. So substituting where you can and moderating where you canít means that making the choices where youíre actually happy will allow you to substitute ≠ like the example that I gave of the apple for the brownie ≠ in most cases. But in some cases it wonít, and in those cases you need to moderate and eat only a portion of the brownie, or only one.And I think that will make a huge difference, because honestly, being conscious of what youíre eating and why youíre eating it makes such a difference. Itís so easy to fall into the trap of eating because youíre thirsty, or eating because youíre happy, or depressed, or distracted, or bored ≠ all of these sorts of emotional eating.

Personally, I know that when Iím studying, I run the gamut of these emotions. What do you think is the best way to cope with the stresses involved with studying, without turning to junk food?

If you have the time, the best thing that I always do is take a walk and just sort it out in your own head, or write it down, or take 10 minutes out of your study time and go get some fresh air. Iíll obsess over something, and it will distract me from whatever else Iím trying to do and make me less effective. So itís actually in my best interest to take those 10 minutes aside and really try to work it out on my own. And, obviously, planning ahead of time will help you cope with those pitfalls of studying. But in terms of emotional eating, I talk about counting to your age before you eat anything, because it gives you a chance to recognize, ďAm I actually hungry? Do I actually want this? Is it what Iím craving?Ē or ďAm I just eating because Iíve been staring at this bio text for six hours, and I can barely see straight, and I want something to distract me?Ē So I think thatís how you deal ≠ youíre prepared, and youíre conscious. I feel like a recording here, but itís the truth. So much is possible if youíre just conscious about your decisions and your policy.And I think that what happens is, if people donít have the right information, or they donít know how to apply that information, thatís when they get trapped. But once youíre making informed choices, youíre in control then.

Excerpt from THE DORM ROOM DIET: The 8-Step Program for Creating a Healthy Lifestyle Plan That Really Works by Daphne Oz

Copyright (c) 2006 by Daphne Oz

Reprinted by permission of Newmarket Press, 18 East 48 Street, New York, NY 10017,HYPERLINK "http://www.newmarketpress.com" www.newmarketpress.com

College Pitfalls

If you let it, college can prove to be a disastrous time for your health. Why? Before college, you are still considered a child. You are viewed as an extension of your parents or guardians. After college, however, you are expected to get a job, go on to higher education, and perhaps settle down and start a family of your own. Youíve become your own person, independent of your parents. The time you spend in college is when you find yourself, clichť as that might sound. College life presents you with a slew of new challenges and pressures, all of which teach you how to handle life as an adult. But, if you donít see them coming, they could send you hurtling into a dependency on, among other things, food.

Before I left home for my freshman year at Princeton University, my parents let me know that even though I was attending a rigorous university I would not be allowed to get away with poor performance. Introducing pressure #1: grades. On some level, everyone views grades as a judgment of their personal worth: How good is my work? How good am I? To this internalized valuing of grades add the fact that you are living 24/7 with hundreds, if not thousands, of your peers, all struggling to get the same grades you want, all adding to your stress.

Unfortunately, goading you to do your best in school is not the only kind of pressure these peers will exert on you. Feeling as if you have to fit in with the crowd doesnít end when you graduate from high school; many college students still find it difficult to resist doing what (it seems) everyone else around them is doing, even when they know itís a bad idea. This can apply to anything from drinking six strawberry daiquiris at an off-campus party, to eating the kind of stuff youíd never have put in your body before you got to school. Standing up to this kind of group-think can be very difficult, but I promise you it can be done and you wonít find yourself friendless.

For instance, a woman in my dorm, Lydia, says her roommates like to wrap up long nights of studying with a trip to the university store for a pint of gourmet ice cream óeach. Unfortunately, long nights are fairly common in college, so she was eating ice cream at least three times a week after midnight. Because the event had become a tradition, she felt awkward saying that she didnít want to partake. Lydia knew she wasnít eating because she was hungry; it was a way to socialize and she didnít want to feel like a party pooper. She dealt with the issue by getting a low-fat frozen yogurt or a frozen fruit bar instead of ice cream; this way she could still be with her friends and enjoy their company without all the extra calories. They teased her the first time, of course, but after a few trips many of them were choosing the healthier option, too. They didnít lose their tradition; they just adjusted it.

Most first-year college students are also subjected to the stress of having to live in the same room with a complete stranger. You have none of your own space, no privacy, no previous bond of friendship, no escape from the constant scrutiny of someone you donít even know. You might find yourself paired with a nocturnal vampire who simply refuses to do her work during the day, but who is up writing papers at 3 a.m. beneath the soothing glow of fluorescent light bulbs. Add to this stress the fact that you are away from home for an extended period, possibly for the first time in your life. Often, it seems that (insert favorite junk food) is the only cure for homesickness. . . . If only baby carrots did the trick! Thankfully, as you make more friends and get accustomed to your new surroundings, homesickness diminishes. Heck, you may even grow fond of your roomie eventually; most people do. And, in the meantime, youíll get to practice your negotiating skills and ability to compromise.

As if roommates, homesickness, course workloads, and the stress of fitting in were not enough to deal with, college cafeterias offer a huge variety of processed carbohydrates for you to load up on, especially if you find yourself grabbing food on the go. A bagel with cream cheese is one of the most common breakfast fallbacks; a box of some sweetened, refined cereal is another. Both are loaded with refined flour, which turns straight into sugar a few minutes after you eat it, leaving you famished within two hours.

The communal dining experience on campus also means you are constantly eating in the company of others, which introduces a new pressure, especially for young women: eat less than everyone around you. No one wants to look like a pig who canít get food onto her fork fast enough, so girls will often, subconsciously or not, start comparing how and what they eat to the girls around them. This can sometimes lead to a subliminal, or overt, competition over who eats what and how much. Though you may have eaten communally in your high school cafeteria, you did not eat all your meals surrounded by peers. You were able to make at least some of your dining decisions in the comfort of your own home. At college, all of these choices are made very public when everyone else is watching you eat all the time.

If you think about it, the girls around you are all under the same pressures you are to keep up with work and friends and family; sooner or later, the stress gets to everybody. They also have the media cramming the idea that ďsuper thin is inĒ down their throats, and frustration can set in when they find themselves unable to fulfill their super-model wannabe dream. It can create a lot of anxiety when you feel that you constantly need to compete with everyone around you ó not just in terms of how thin you are, but also for a place on an athletic team, for academic standing in class, or even over a certain boy. In extreme cases, these pressures can lead to an eating disorder.