Fight off the fierce 15 with Daphne Oz’s health guide

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Oz’s guide helps students make health-conscious decisions. Photo courtesy

It’s 4 a.m. The paper is not done, but the giant bag of Cheetos next to you is. Mountains of Mountain Dew and monster amounts of Monster keep you wired enough to turn in the paper by your 8 a.m. class, but not enough to get you to the Rec Center afterward.

As you drift off to sleep in one of the comfy Raynor Library chairs before your next class, a thought floats through your mind: Wouldn’t it be great if there was someone who could teach you a dorm room diet to keep this from happening again?

As it turns out, there is.

Authored by Daphne Oz — yes, Oprah’s health nut wunderkind, Dr. Mehmet Oz, has a prodigy in his progeny — “The Dorm Room Diet” seeks to eradicate the freshman 15 from college lore with a step-by-step guide of nutritious tips.

Unlike other diet books, “The Dorm Room Diet” is not a specific diet plan that requires its readers to count calories, carbs, or seemingly arbitrary “points.” Instead, it provides guidelines to live by, constructing reasonable goals and delineating alternatives to the run-of-the-mill college food.

For Matt Strelzyk, a sophomore in the College of Engineering, these alternatives are welcome.

“All I eat is dorm food, which is possibly the worst decision of my life thus far,” Strelzyk said. “It’s hard to eat healthy.”

Originally published in 2006, Oz released an updated edition in July, adding two more chapters to her now 10-step program.

Each step corresponds to health and nutritional issues that plague students, such as how to stop eating out of emotional need, how to properly eat on the run, at sporting events or during late study sessions, and, of course, what to do about nutrition when it comes to parties. Her new chapters, focusing on staying healthy and outlining some healthy collegiate meals, respectively, fit snugly into the program as a whole.

Oz’s advice is both helpful and practical. For example, though she insists on going to the campus gym for cardio-based workouts at least three times a week, dorm room exercises are also included as an alternative for busy days when a trek to the gym won’t fit.

It’s a strategy that already works for Samantha Bohn, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences.

“When I used to live in the dorms, I would like to go for a quick run every now and then and follow that up with some crunches in my room,” Bohn said. “It was a nice way to mix it up so I wouldn’t have to be in the gym all the time, or when I needed to get a workout in without taking up so much time.”

But there are some negatives to the book to consider as well.

While it does supply dietary information into an easily digestible format, Oz doesn’t exactly have the average credentials in nutrition or exercise science — she published the first edition as a sophomore at Princeton University, where she majored in Near East studies — and some of it comes off as filler.

Take Step 1 itself, “Get Inspired” — nine pages of fluff that serve as a pep talk for the reader. The problem is if you’ve bought the book, it’s fairly obvious you’re inspired. With a sticker price of $16.95 ($1.13 per pound of the freshman 15), it’s not something you’re likely to pick up on a whim.

In addition, to counter the late-night study munchies, Oz offers simple solutions — too simple of solutions. For example, stock up on fruits and vegetables in place of junk food. It doesn’t take an advice book to know that’s a good idea.

That’s not to say all her solutions are obvious. To combat exhaustion during a study session, Oz recommends a strange snack: chocolate chips.

It seems counter intuitive, but Oz recommends eating a handful — only a handful, mind you — of semisweet chocolate chips when feeling sleepy. The roughly 100-calorie snack will give you a boost that helps you study longer without binging.

If you’re thinking tips like these seem much too intuitive for the average college student, you’re right. Many of Oz’s tips come straight from her family, comprised of a grandmother known as an alternative medicine guru, a mother who is a strict vegetarian and her father Dr. Oz himself, a cardiothoracic surgeon.

However, this doesn’t tarnish the content of the book, only her own reputation as an author. Overall, the tips are useful, the goals are feasible and the style of writing that Oz uses is lighthearted and not preachy.

So, if you are looking to stave off or lose that freshman 15, (whether you’re a freshman or not), that $1.13 a pound might be well worth it.

After all, spring break is right around the corner … sort of.