Daphne Oz's 2-bite rule is pure genius


When it comes to eating and drinking, Daphne Oz -- Dr. Oz's 31-year-old daughter and a co-host on "The Chew" -- wants every bite and sip to be an experience. That's why, despite always striving to maintain a healthy diet, she never deprives herself of anything (and neither does her father, she says). That's also why she couldn't resist joining forces with Pure Leaf to bring exotic specialty tea creations to life (she raved about the Chai Tea Latte, and boy was she right).

We caught up with the mom-to-be (for the third time!) at the Pure Leaf Tea House pop-up shop in New York City (open until September 24) on Tuesday and chatted about her childhood tea rituals, how she lost 40 pounds in college, her ingenious two-bite rule and what her famous father is "terrible at." Read on!

Tell me why you're excited to be here.

I work in food, and flavor is a big thing for me. I want quality, I want exotic, I want something that feels like an experience when I cook -- and the same is true, obviously, when I'm drinking. For me, Pure Leaf is that real-brewed taste because it's real-brewed tea. Their whole motto is "Our Thing Is Tea," [and] they take such pride [in] sourcing the beautiful leaves, explaining to the customer the process of that harvest. And for me, I always want to know the origins of my food, especially for my family. I want to know where it's coming from, why did you make this choice, what's special about this? And how cool [is it] to be able to have this little oasis at the Pure Leaf Tea House in the middle of New York?

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Do you cook with tea, as well?

You know what's funny? I grew up in New Jersey, and there's a Korean spa near where my parents live that does tea eggs that I've been dying to figure out how to make. It's so good, and they're dyed this wonderful crackly brown, so I've been dying to learn that. But I do use a tea rub, occasionally, on pork loin. On tenderer meats and not so fatty meats, it really works nicely.

It's almost a double-edged sword. Tea is so good on its own -- black tea, iced or hot -- that people never bother with all the other things they could do with it. The reality is the universe is huge, and all these cultures have this wonderful tea ritual, and there's a reason for that. There's something extremely cathartic and soothing about sitting down and pouring yourself and a friend a cup of tea.

What would you say is the greatest health benefit of tea, for you personally?

Well, two things. One is, when I'm pregnant, I don't drink that much caffeine. There are so many herbal options, and I have every tea under the sun. I just love how I can have 15 cups throughout the day of different herbal teas, and it's a wonderful way to add flavor without having to do a whole lot extra. And obviously, [it's] calorie-free, if you don't doctor [it] with a lot of stuff.

My family, for whatever reason, really adopted tea time and tea rituals, so the second we would get home from school, my mom and all my siblings and I would make tea, go up, go to her bedroom, we'd get in bed and talk. It's always been that way. When we sit down for a movie, we have popcorn and tea. When we wake up on Saturday morning, it's tea and bagels. It's like a thing for me. So people come over and they look at my tea cupboard and they think that I'm insane. But it really has always been a passion for me and just a way to experiment with flavor.

On the note of your family, how has your father [Dr. Oz] influenced your healthy cooking?

My dad's a terrible cook. Truly, a terrible cook. But he loves to eat. So one of the things that I always tell people is, my dad talks about the best of the best health information. He shares this so that you can be the expert on your body, and he shared that with me so that I could be the expert on my body. But having all that information doesn't mean you can't still sometimes, and he does, make the decision to have the amazing pork ribs at the place that makes them as a specialty. For him, it really is about having those rich life experiences.

When I wrote the "The Dorm Room Diet," I [had been] 180 pounds as a high school senior, [and] I went to college and realized, "This is freedom, and it's also a chance to make some changes in my life." I lost the 40 pounds in a way that allowed me to maintain my love of food, but do it in a way that also supported my health. A lot of that is not feeling deprived, ever. So the way that I cook now -- and it is healthily, but I call it healthy and happy -- is I'm always making comfort food. [But] if I make a pasta dish, I'll use half pasta and half white beans. For lasagna, I'll make half pasta sheets and half zucchini noodles. If I'm having a meat, I'll have it as a side portion. I'll have that as a side dish and bulk [up] the rest of my meal with what other people might think are the sides -- which are the salads and the vegetables -- and that way, I never feel deprived.

One of the things I learned my first year at the "The Chew," I started talking about my two-bite rule. I taste everything. The first bite lets you experience everything and just see what's going on and explore. The second bite lets you indulge. Every bite after that tastes the same. So you can make a conscious choice of either, "I'm going to go for that, I love it" or "I tried it, and nothing's going to change from eating the rest of this plate." In that way, I get to have my experience, but do it in a way that I think is really approachable for people who don't want to be told they can never eat what they love again when they're trying to be healthy.

RELATED: Daphne's favorite healthy restaurants

If you're telling someone they can't have something, it makes it that much harder.

It's all they think about. It's like an ex-boyfriend. It's consuming for people to feel like food is taboo. And I learned this the hard way. It puts food in the power position when you, as the eater, should be in the power position. When nothing is off-limits, and you have all the control, you can decide, "Tonight, I'm going to eat mac and cheese for dinner because that's all I really want." And then tomorrow, you correct. We've lost sight of that, because we've made health so black and white, but it's balance. And by the way, it's your one life, so you get to live it how you want to.

Lastly, do you eat differently when you're pregnant?

When I'm pregnant, I feel extra [committed] to being healthy. I also feel like you have to be easy on yourself still, because there are times when I'm just craving something and I don't have the willpower to fight my brain. I do this throughout the year, because my kids love it; I start the day with a smoothie. That, for me, is like an insurance policy. When I say smoothie, I'm not talking about a whole mess of fruit with a tiny bit of green in it. It's all greens, a quarter of avocado, some yogurt and just a few tart cherries or a few grapes or half an apple -- or banana for the kids -- to sweeten it up a little bit. That gives my kids a huge boost in nutrition, it gives me a huge boost in nutrition first thing in the morning, so that if the rest of the day gets away from you, at the very least, you know you're getting that.

This interview has been edited and condensed.