Dorm Room Diet

Daphne Oz pens the skinny on healthy back-to-school habits.

Photo by Michael Simon.

With 65 percent of Americans overweight, it’s no surprise that out-of-control eating habits are prevalent among teenagers—especially overstressed college students, many of whom struggle with the dreaded “freshman 15” weight gain during their first year on campus.

Wellness and fitness enthusiast Daphne Oz, 26, author of the bestseller The Dorm Room Diet (HarperCollins), battled her own weight challenges as a teen. Her book lays out a step-by-step program, with tips for creating a practical diet and exercise plan.

The daughter of healthy-lifestyle gurus Dr. Mehmet Oz and Lisa Oz, Daphne grew up in Cliffside Park, graduated from Princeton University in 2008, launched her career as an author and speaker, and is now co-host of ABC’s The Chew, a weekday television talk/cooking show.

Here are some of her tips for maintaining a healthful lifestyle despite the stress of college life:

"Creating a healthy lifestyle is not about deprivation—it’s about healthy choices and smart indulgences. Make each decision count and realize that what you do most of the time is what counts most. It’s okay to treat yourself to a special-occasion slice of dessert, but don’t eat the whole cake."
—Daphne Oz (Look for Oz’s second book of tips for a healthy, balanced lifestyle in March.)


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Challenge Don't Do
I eat too many sweets and always feel tired and cranky. Don’t consume empty calories as a distraction when you’re bored. Sweets deliver quick energy but leave you in a sugar slump—and set up bad eating habits and carb cravings. Eat smarter—treat yourself to fresh fruit, beautiful salads, healthy fats and lean proteins.

I snack on cookies, chips, pizza and fries at bedtime.

Don’t eat late—you don’t need fuel when you are counting sheep. Devote sleeping time to regenerating your body, not digesting calories.

Train your stomach to stop eating at least two hours before bedtime.

I don’t have time to exercise and can’t afford a gym membership.

You don’t necessarily need a gym, though many colleges include on-campus sports facilities in their tuition. Go for a run, bike to the library, take the stairs. If you go to a gym, do it in the morning, so you can reap the metabolism-boosting benefits all day.
I’m always surrounded by high-calorie food and drink at parties. Don’t arrive at a party hungry, and don’t linger near the snack table. Before you go, have a tall glass of water and an apple. Set yourself up for success. At parties, drink sparkling, flavored water—it will keep your hands busy so you are not grazing or chugging. Bubbles help fill you up! Chew sugarless gum if you crave sweets.
I can’t keep nutritious food handy because I live in a dorm. Don’t spend money on empty calories. Shop wisely and have a plan. Keep almonds, rice cakes, apples, unsweetened almond butter and club soda in your room. Omit unhealthy options, and your easiest decisions will be healthy ones.
I binge eat when I’m bored, unhappy or emotional. I binge eat when I’m bored, unhappy or emotional. Do not eat as an emotional crutch. Remember, food is fuel. Avoid staying in your dorm room and eating. Take an exercise class, join a book club, go for a walk. Recognize emotional eating and find a productive outlet.
I am oblivious to my food intake and don’t count calories. Slow down and don’t gobble your food. Once you start eating, it takes 20 minutes for your stomach to begin feeling full. Eat three moderate, nutritious meals, with two sensible snacks to sustain your energy all day. Avoid big portions, take smaller bites and chew your food well.
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