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].
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 intelligent†
population 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
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
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
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 being†
obsessed 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,
you† could 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 deprive† yourself
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 choose†
short-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 successful†
at 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.Ē† I
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
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
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
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.