Health & Medicine

Dorm-diet book is aimed at a student's budget, lifestyle

When Dr. Mehmet Oz wanted to make a point, he handed Oprah Winfrey a tar-infested lung.

His daughter, Daphne Oz, 24, takes a more girl-talk approach.

In her updated version of the best-selling The Dorm Room Diet (Newmarket Press, $16.95), Oz gives her teen readers the skinny on getting skinny in college.

The book offers nutritional and exercise guidelines, but Oz uses her own experiences to show readers how to find a happy balance between indulgence and good health.

Daphne Oz is not a doctor, although her family has many of them. The 2008 Princeton graduate majored in Near East studies because it combined her interests in history and art with her familial ties to Turkey. During her college years, Oz used the tips and tricks in her book, which is about a lifestyle, not a fad diet. Oz was amazed how well the book did, especially because of its hard-to-reach target audience.

"Fad diets are bad to begin with, but they were written for middle-aged housewives with a lot of time on their hands to cook meals and go shopping," Oz said. "That's not something a teenager with weight issues could ever fathom having as an accessory. To write specifically for someone working on a limited budget of time, storage and money, and working on a kid's plane of thinking — that's what really made (the book) different. It wasn't that the information was new; it was that the format and the voice were new."

Oz adopted this lifestyle after a lifetime of struggling with her weight. By her college graduation, she was 30 pounds lighter, even after college parties, late-night powwows and all-nighters.

"There was nothing that was ever off limits, which was really good for me because it took the power away from food and took food off a pedestal," Oz said. "If I wanted to take advantage of a friend's homemade birthday cake because it would help me enjoy the experience with them, that was something I would always allow myself to do. But I wouldn't allow myself to casually graze from a friend's brownie."

Another crucial element — and the reason that many college students gain weight — was overcoming emotional eating. Like many, Oz used food as a way to deal with emotions, or for family bonding. In her book, she advises readers to count to their age when a craving hits, to find out if they are hungry or just emotional.

"After that, figuring out ways to control and ameliorate the situation without food is the hardest part," Oz said, "but it's the first step to recovery and rehabilitation."

For students, Oz sees school as a great opportunity to forge new, superior habits. Above all, she encourages people to use others as support and a way to broaden perspectives.

"My dad speaks to a generation of people who, if they were not doing right by themselves in terms of health, part of it was because they didn't know any better," Oz said. "We're so fortunate to have access to resources we've never had before, and I would love to be a part of inspiring my generation in particular to harness its health and make choices that mean we don't end up on operating tables, and that people like my dad don't need to see us in 20 years' time with clotted arteries and heart disease, because we've actually taken care of ourselves."