Rachel Goldstien: What inspires you?
Daphne Oz: I am inspired by working moms. Mothers who somehow balance the demands of their many lives—professional, familial, personal, and interior—and still manage to make time to have fun and invest in themselves! This is a huge challenge that I look forward to taking on.
RG: Why do you do what you do?
DO: I do what I do because my favorite thing is to learn. I love to look at my life and look at what I can do better, how I can contribute more and where I can push myself. Fun for me is to take what I learn and teach others in a way that is accessible and applicable in their own lives. We all have so much access to the information on the Internet and in books, but we don’t necessarily get that information in a usable way so that we can turn information into action. I want to be a vehicle to help people connect the dots that let them make their lives healthier, happier, more beautiful, and more fun.
RG: What makes you happy?
DO: My mom loves the saying, “Happiness is an attitude.” I was at my grandma’s house this morning and was looking at her cupboard where she likes to put inspirational quotes every morning. Today’s quote was: “I’ve learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our disposition and not on our circumstances.”—Martha Washington.
I have been very, very lucky because I have my health, a wonderful husband, family, and friends, and I get to do what I love. More than anything, having adventures with my siblings and spending time with my family and my husband make me happy. But ultimately, it’s how you approach things in life that puts a smile on your face.
RG: What makes you vulnerable?
DO: I think I used to feel emotional transparency—wearing my emotions on my sleeve—would make me vulnerable. I was much more uncomfortable being in tune with myself and sharing that with other people. I was more comfortable being hard and tough. Since I’ve been married, being in a relationship with my husband, he is so perceptive of my emotions. He forces me to be more open instead of hide. I learned that pretending you don’t have feelings makes you feel unhappy and unfulfilled and, ultimately, is what really makes you vulnerable because you are hiding from the truth.
My mom always says, “Have standards, not expectations.”
Standards are what you hold for yourself, too. If I don’t hold those standards with friends, colleagues, and lovers, I can’t hold them to their relationships.
If you have expectations, you try to put your standards on someone else’s behavior. The fact is you can’t control anyone but yourself, so creating standards, as opposed to expectations, keeps the ball in your court. I am proactive and looking to change my own behavior rather than others’—which is generally much more successful!
RG: What is it about food that makes you want to educate others?
DO: Food is medicine! We have forgotten that! The fact is that every bite you take goes through a course of digestion. Every bite becomes a part of your biochemistry. Somewhere along the way, that green juice or that cheeseburger becomes a part of your body and your organs. Make sure you eat whole foods that are good for your entire body. This doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy your food or make room for plenty of indulgences. But your conscious goal has to be to eat for long term health and what you do most of the time is what really counts.
RG: Coming from a lineage of health advocates, what kind of food was served in the Oz household when you were growing up?
DO: I think that people really believe that my dad eats for fuel, not fun. The fact is that a lot of the time, he doesn’t have time to forage for great meals, so he grabs yogurt, fruit, and nuts, things he can healthfully eat on the go. But he LOVES great food. My mom is a great cook, and family dinners were a must growing up, even if that meant eating at 10 p.m. when my dad got home from the hospital. It’s where we did our family bonding. And anyone who knows our family knows this: we eat ALL the time!
RG: What does a “wholesome family” mean to you?
DO: A wholesome family is one where there is a lot of love. It’s living by example. It’s acceptance of people at their core, but it’s also pushing each other to be our best selves and try things we might not be good at.
Growing up in my family, it wasn’t important that we always be the best; it was important that we were going to try to be our best and give it our all. You can tell your kids they are perfect and don’t need to change—which could cause insecurity when they recognize their own shortcomings—or tell them they are terrible, which would undermine their sense of self-worth and confidence. There’s a happy middle ground. Tell your kids they are perfect the way they are, but they shouldn’t stay where they are forever because growing, testing the limits, and evolving make life better and more fulfilling.
RG: How would you guide the youth of today in hopes of providing a platform for a healthy future for themselves?
DO: Education… but not in a traditional sense. The most imminent battle our generation is going to have to fight is food transparency: how food is made/grown, where it comes from, the quality of the source, and how it will effect our health long term. We need to demand that our food is labeled, especially genetically modified foods, and learn how it is produced, processed, and grown. We can try to reform healthcare, but the fact is if we don’t have a healthy food source, we are only treating the symptoms and not the problems. It is expensive to keep letting this issue go unnoticed, and countless lives are ruined because we’ve made health expensive in this country. But if we make wholesome, healthy food accessible and affordable for everyone, we make the choice to be healthy an easy one.
RG: What made you write The Dorm Room Diet? What prompted you to write the second book in that series, and what’s next?
DO: The only reason I write at all is because I am going through, and growing through, something in my life I want to share with others through my personal experiences. The Dorm Room Diet: The 10-Step Program for Creating a Healthy Lifestyle Plan That Really Works was an experience I was going through while I was at college at Princeton University. I wanted to lose 30 pounds healthfully and still be able to enjoy my college experience. Having succeeded in doing just that, I wanted to share my experiences with others who could benefit from my direct knowledge of the difficulty of trying to balance college life with being healthy. It became a journey about healthy lifestyle choices, including tips and tricks for creating a new relationship with food where I was in control and could learn to love food healthfully again.
When I was young and growing up overweight, I believed the “eaten” was more powerful than the “eater,” meaning the food was more powerful than I was. I got rid of all the fad diets. I took responsibility to give myself the power of healthy food choices. So, I wrote The Dorm Room Diet Planner.
Now, I am working on my third book, which will come out in March 2013. It focuses on food, style, love, and enjoying every minute of your life! It’s all about creating a life that isn’t a placeholder and living to maximize one’s potential. If you live your life all out today, not only is it fun, but you are preventing a midlife crisis. I have so many girlfriends in their twenties who live in a white box apartment, having mediocre meals with mediocre friends, waiting for the life they want to hit them in their forties or fifties. They are settling in the now – what’s the point? This moment is precious and full of great potential: all we have to do is figure out the little changes that will make a huge impact on how wonderful life can be in this moment. The new book will explain how little changes that you make in your life now will make your life better. Your life shouldn’t be anything short of spectacular.
RG: What do you do to stay balanced in mind, body, and spirit?
DO: Walk. Walk. Walk. I walk home from work, all my errands. If I don’t get to go to the gym, walking is the answer. I get to listen to great music, and most importantly, I get to move my limbs, shift the lymph around, clear my head. If I take a car to and from work, I will just sit down at my computer and keep plugging away without any fresh inspiration. Keeping stationary drains your brain, but moving around shows you new things, new inspiration, and keeps the blood moving.
RG: What advice would you give your future children to help them stay balanced?
DO: Keep on moving: any motion is forward motion. You can always course-correct. As my dad always says, “You can’t catch the ball if you are not in the field.” Don’t get stuck and don’t worry.
RG: When you go to sleep at night, do you feel accomplished that you are making a difference in the world? What makes you smile most?
DO: I am doing what I am supposed to be doing right now. I smile knowing that I have the most wonderful husband, family, and friends. I work with friends whom I can learn from and whom I respect and who respect me. I get to help people create lives that make them happier and healthier than they were yesterday. I knock on wood that my family is healthy and happy and love each other.
RG: What’s your favorite guilty pleasure?
DO: Cake batter and bagels.