Wes Minton of Dallas watched his roommate sit around, drink beer, and gain close to the classic freshman 15 at the University of Redlands in California last year.
As someone who had struggled with weight most of his life, he didnâ€™t want that to happen to him.
â€œI limited myself to one plate of food a meal,â€ he says. â€œI donâ€™t keep food in my room, because if I do I know I will eat it all. When I got to college I found out I had access to a free gym, and that was great for me. Also, Iâ€™m a climber and California has some of the best climbing in the world.â€
By the end of the year, Minton, now 19, actually lost 10 pounds. Which puts him in an enviable minority.
Studies show that most students gain as much as 10 pounds during their first two years of college, according to The Nemours Foundation, a pediatric health system in Wilmington, Del.
Some weight gain is normal and may even be good, as an adolescent body grows and increases in bone mass. But it has to be the right kind of weight gain â€“ the kind that goes along with doing weight-bearing exercises and eating calcium rich foods, not from inactivity or drinking colas that interfere with calcium absorption.
Of course itâ€™s one thing for an adult to lecture an adolescent. Itâ€™s another if they figure it out for themselves or hear it from a peer.
Thatâ€™s where Daphne Oz, 24, author of the bestselling The Dorm Room Diet: The 10-Step Program for Creating a Healthy Lifestyle Plan That Really Works (Newmarket Press, $16.95), comes in.
Oz, daughter of Dr. Mehmet Oz, the heart surgeon and television personality, and Lisa Oz, an advocate of holistic nutrition, had no shortage of instruction growing up when it came to exercise and eating right. And yet she struggled with her weight through much of high school, skipping or going for skimpy breakfasts, then opting for brownies for a quick sugar rush before classes.
By the end of high school she made up her mind to turn things around. And when she went off to Princeton University, she saw it as an opportunity to forge the lifestyle she wanted to have for the rest of her life.
College, she knew, is full of potential pitfalls, with its all-you-can cafeteria buffets and the pressures to snack and indulge, to wash down late-night pizza with alcohol and soft drinks far from the eyes of watchful parents.
â€œItâ€™s like getting out of Dodge in terms of getting away from your family and those who have guided you up to this point,â€ she says on the phone from her New York home.
So she started developing eating strategies. No time for a regular breakfast? She kept fresh fruit and whole grain granola bars and cereals on hand or instant or regular unflavored, unsweetened oatmeal on hand that she could prepare with a quick cup of hot water. She ate them dry or with 1 percent or skim milk.
She ate at least every three hours, which meant three meals and two snacks of fruits or vegetables.
She avoided eating within two hours of sleeping.
As friends started asking her about her health tips, she got the idea of writing the book so she wouldnâ€™t have to keep repeating herself, she says.
Originally published in 2006 while she was still an undergraduate, she revised and updated with two new chapters for a July release.
Although junk food and late-night studying may seem may seem inseparable, both Minton and Oz, who graduated from Princeton in 2008, say that their concentration improved and they were able to do better in school when they adopted a healthier lifestyle.
Oz recalls that after those brownies back in high school gave her a sugar rush, she would zone out and miss about 15 minutes before getting her focus back. When she created and starting following her Dorm Room Diet, she not only felt better, but did better at school.
Minton says he really appreciated the contrast after he found himself slipping back into old ways at the start of the second semester, eating fast food, drinking soda and not exercising as much.
â€œAll those different chemicals really do affect my concentration,â€ he says. â€œI started cutting those out. I started doing cross-country running with a friend and weight lifting. Iâ€™m not a very good runner, but after you run you get a flood of endorphins and you feel not lazy, you feel like someone who can get something done. I found it easier to focus. And I started getting more things done.â€