The Daniel Plan Diet – Holy Idea or Hoax?

I want to look at a very popular Diet Plan that’s sweeping Churches in America. I’m going to tell you what I like about it, and what I don’t like at all. Because that’s how I roll.

It’s called, The Daniel Plan. The name was my first red flag. I’ll tell you why later. So stay with me. Daniel Plan is supported and partially written by. Rick Warren, the Senior Pastor of Saddleback Church in California. I love him. Back in the early 90s, Rick’s early book, The Purpose Driven Church, was a genuine game changer for me. I went to seminars. I adjusted many of the ways we did ministry at Church, and I joined the Pastors Network online. It was so meaningful.

I did not enjoy, The Purpose Driven Life, nearly as much. Millions of other people did. And that’s awesome. I am so glad for the way that book ministered to people all around the world.

The Daniel Plan also has the backing of Dr. Mehmet Oz. That is less satisfying to me. I’m not a big fan of daytime TV at the best of times, but Dr. Oz comes across like a snake oil salesman. I don’t like preachers who come across that way, nor do I like doctors who do either. I’m just saying. He seems to promote every new diet plan. I have no doubt that he benefits financially from every plan he promotes.

I have no knowledge of the other two authors associated with The Daniel Plan, Daniel Amen, and Mark Hyman.

The Plan is put together kind of like Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover, but not as entertaining. The idea is to get a group of people together in a Church setting and go through the program as a group. I really like the way they’ve brought in 5 categories, Faith, Food, Fitness, Focus, and Friends. I also smile at the alliteration, because it’s so Rick Warren. That’s not a bad thing. It’s just that it has his fingerprint all over it.

I love the faith aspect. My book will be written from a Faith perspective. In fact, the working title is, Eating God’s Way. I don’t know whether or not that will be the final title, because I’m going for a bigger audience that just the Faith crowd. But a great deal of the foundation comes from the Bible.

The Daniel Plan takes into account the whole person, not merely his/her weight. I believe that’s essential. I like the way it’s packaged for group usage. It’s always better when we have a support network to help us make changes in our lifestyle.

My two major problems are 1. The name, and 2. The Food category.

Calling this, The Daniel Plan, is inaccurate and misleading. Daniel was an Old Testament prophet. He wrote one of the books of the Bible. He’s a true hero. He was taken to Babylon as a young man, to be raised in the Babylonian culture and educated as a Babylonian. But Nebuchadnezzar, the king, didn’t account for Daniel’s faith or the dietary restrictions of the Jewish law regarding eating meat. The Jews had very strict regulations about what kinds of meat they could eat, how that meat was slaughtered, and the meat could not be used in non Jewish rituals. It’s the forerunner of the concept we call Kosher today.

It order to be faithful to God, Daniel chose not to eat the Babylonian meat and to become vegetarian. The Daniel Plan is not vegetarian. So calling the program by that name is not correct. It actually has nothing to do with Daniel or the way he ate.

I know, they had to give the program a name. But this name is really a bust. And it kind of upsets me. I am really committed to sticking to accuracy when we incorporate the Bible into anything we do. There is so much falsehood sweeping through the Church, as it is, that we shouldn’t add to the confusion. This is NOT related to Daniel, in any way.

I said my second problem was the Food part of the program. In broad terms, it’s pretty darned good. Especially in the way they get people away from processed food and steer them towards whole foods. Processed sugar truly is our enemy, as are the ready made meals, and other boxed, and packaged processed food items staring at us from the shelves at our favorite grocery store.

I think that if we made that one single change in our diets, we’d all begin to become healthier. We’d lose a great deal of belly fat. But it’s a hard sell. Because most people want to spend as little as possible in the grocery store. And that’s odd, because we’ll spend a fortune on cars, or furniture, or clothes, but in regards to food, we just want it to taste good and be cheap. Yikes.

With that in mind, the Daniel Plan’s emphasis on organic, including grass fed meats, and cold water fish, puts such a strain on people that the program reeks of upper middle class to upper class elitism. People living paycheck to paycheck, or on a tight budget are going to be turned off from the get go. God’s plan for eating was designed for everyone, not just the California elite.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all about organic, and grass fed. That’s why I became a farmer. It was the only way I could guarantee my food was all I wanted it to be. But most people will pass out from sticker shock after just one visit to the shops. There is a reason Whole Foods, is called, Whole Paycheck.

For me, the cheapest way to go organic, was to grow my own, and to raise my own meat. Sure it’s more work, but it fulfills some the the Plan’s emphasis on exercise.

There are some veggies that we really should work to get organic, like potatoes, and soft fruit. And we should make sure we rinse all our fruit and veggies when we get them home. But don’t wait to go totally organic before making the necessary changes to your diet.

Also the emphasis on cold water fish is another elitist move. Salmon, trout, and the like are awesome. They taste great. But most of us have easier access to warm water fish like, bass, catfish, bluegill, or even Tilapia. I know Tilapia can be a problem because of the way it’s raised, but there are workarounds.

The aversion to Dairy, really rumples my feathers, too. First of all, eating dairy was popular with people in the Bible. And if you’re going to base your plan on teachings of the Bible, be consistent. There is a problem with dairy these days. It is all the processing, including pasteurization and homogenization. There are those who are lactose intolerant. That is unfortunate. But milk,cheese, and butter are not bad for us. In fact, they are quite good for most of us.

I could go on, but I think you get the point. I like most of The Daniel Plan. I hate the name. And the Food section needs a major overhaul. But the idea of a holistic approach, combining elements of Faith, Food, Fitness, Focus, and Friends, is admirable.

I’d love to get your feedback. Have you tried The Daniel Plan? What did you like about it? What did you dislike? Is your Church or other group considering the plan? If so, what are the main selling points? Feel free to use the comments section, or send me an email: samburtonpresents@gmail.com.

The Ketogenic Diet and My Problems With Aging.

meI’m Fat! There I said it. Sadly, not for the first time. But I want you to really understand what I’m saying. I’m not overweight. I’m not portly. I’m not big boned. I’m Michelin Man, fat. Obese. No, Morbidly Obese. It’s the kind of fat, that makes it easy for me to be self deprecating, and use it as a part of public speaking as a great source of humor.

Here’s the deal. It works. I’m funny. I can make a crowd chuckle, giggle, and roar with laughter. I love that. It feeds me. I truly enjoy making people happy. You can get people to swallow a great deal of truth while their mouths are open laughing. And I love sharing truth with people.

While it works, it’s easy. It may even be the shallowest form of humor. Very little thinking or creativity needs to be put in to one’s humor when you’re using self deprecating abuse as your method and target.

Because I love to make people laugh, and hear their laughter, I’ve been able to avoid the actual fact that I’m unhealthy. I just bury it in the back of my mind and go on. I can make jokes about buying larger clothing, breaking chairs, or causing fear in the eyes of the person who has to sit next to me on an airplane. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been able to joke about getting a bus seat all to myself. People will laugh. I will cry a little in private. Then swallow it with a cheeseburger, and go on.

Two years ago, things got serious. I was having trouble breathing when I walked any distance. My chest hurt. I didn’t know what was wrong, until I had a heart attack. I’d had a small stroke in January of 2017, but didn’t tell anyone. I was raising money to become a missionary, and didn’t want anything to stop me. For a while, my wife had to do everything because I couldn’t think straight, or write. I am so grateful for her.

Then in late August, or early September, I had a heart attack. I was taken by ambulance to the hospital. It was kind of embarrassing. I had two strokes, small ones, but real, in the hospital. I remember them both quite profoundly.

After about a week, I went home. Things were somewhat better. I was now on all kinds of medications and I had to carry a spray in my pocket in case of heart issues. But I carried on.

In November, my wife and I took a trip down to Edinburgh for our anniversary. For those who don’t know, “The Royal Mile” is one of Edinburgh’s more famous shopping and tourist areas. Walking back up the Mile, my heart began to hurt like it hadn’t since my attack. I used my spray several times, but I was scared. Eventually, we made it back to our bus stop and went to our hotel. The short version is, I ruined the anniversary. My wife was so scared. And to be honest, angry. When we got home however, I used it to make people laugh.

In June of 2018, I was finally taken in to hospital for triple bypass surgery. It was a terrifying time. I was stone cold scared of the thought that someone was going to stop my heart, take veins form my leg as replacement for the blocked ones, then try and get my heart going again.

When I awoke, I felt better. Two days later something went wrong and I had a bad reaction. I genuinely thought I was going to die. I remember hallucinating during the event. Later, as I began to heal, I noticed a blind spot in my vision. My left eye was distinctly missing part of it’s sight. Eventually, after several visits to doctors, and having many tests, I was told that I’d had a stroke during surgery. Many people die from that. I only lost part of the vision in one eye.

When I got better, it all became the source of much laughter. That’s the way I do things. I’m not proud of it, I’m just telling you how I operate.

Finally, came the pain from sciatica in my back. I’d had it for years, but the pain became excruciating in 2018. I can’t even describe it. I’ve had many scans and doctor visits and tried multiple medications. It is awful, and sometimes debilitating.

I’m 62 years old. I’m not a kid anymore. Something has to give. I have to take action, or give up, fall apart, and, die.

I tried counting calories. But honestly, the discipline required in that, was too much for me. I lost a few pounds, but it was so much work I just lost interest. I gained the weight back.

Recently, two things happened that clicked my brain. The first was my pain was so bad that I would have to lay down for at least a couple hours a day for relief. My wife would take walks and go to the gym with her friends leaving me alone. I felt lonely, and I got jealous. Seriously. I’m not proud of it, I’m just saying.

The second thing is, all my clothes became uncomfortably tight. My entire wardrobe is too small. Every day, I wrestle with what I’m going to wear. Fortunately, I have a few large sweaters. I can put them over a too tight shirt, or just wear the sweater. For trousers, I have two pair of jeans, 1 dress pair of suit trousers, and one ratty old pair of casual trousers that are fraying at the cuffs.

I couldn’t bear it. I was literally dying, plus hurting, plus looking like a homeless man each time I left the house. I wept. I tried watching YouTube videos for fitness ideas, but those are all young studs and beautiful women, and frankly, I couldn’t relate to any of them.

It was at that point, I discovered, or I should say, I started paying attention to, the Ketogenic Diet. My wife had been talking about it for a while, and had even played with it off and one. I might add, she played successfully.

I headed straight for Google. I read everything I could about the eating plan, both pro and con. I watched dozens, maybe over a hundred videos on YouTube. I got the basic understanding of eating high fat, moderate protein, low carbohydrates. I loved and hated the idea of cutting out refined sugar and flour from my diet.

I hated it because I love bread like I love my heartbeat. And I loved it for the same reason. I knew, and have known for at least 5 years, that I am addicted to bread. I don’t understand all of the reasons, but I know it’s true. Bread, donuts, pizza crust, pie crust, rolls, hamburger buns, cupcakes, you name them, I’m an addict. Give me a toaster, a loaf of bread, some butter, and honey or jam, and I’ll clean it all up and ask for more.

I’m not here to discuss the reasons for it, but I know it’s true. Simple carbs, especially highly processed ones are a huge source of weakness for me, candy bars, potato chips, fries, onion rings, you name it. They are all a part of the problem. My mouth is watering, just thinking about all these yummy goodies.

Anyway, 10 days ago, we made the jump. I haven’t had any bread, sugar, potatoes, rice, pasta, or highly processed carbs. The first week I lost 5 pounds. That was all water weight, I’m sure. But it’s still encouraging.

At the moment, I do not believe potatoes will be gone forever. They are really tasty and healthy, but for now they are totally out. I believe the junk is gone forever. I’m not convinced that after 10 days, I’ve broken my addictions, but I’m doing pretty well.

I’m not yet able to exercise. My pain is still inhibiting me. Soon I will go to the gym. I have no expectations, but I’ve got to do it. Whatever that means. Treadmill, weights, stationary bike, I’m not sure. The thought of my leg and back hurting turns me into a whimpering 3 year old. I want to cry, fuss, and beg mommy to take me home.

The only appealing thing about the gym is the sauna. When I’m warm, my leg doesn’t hurt. I’m relaxed and in a good mood. Maybe I could start in the sauna, get loosened up, do my workout, then go back to the sauna to finish up. I don’t know. I’ll let you know what happens.

It’s tough sledding for a man my age, to admit he’s past his peak, but determined to do something about it. It would be easier just to let myself go, and enjoy myself. But enjoyment has brought me little joy. I’ve got to stretch myself and see what happens. Here I stand.

I made my goals for 2019 back in November. I’ve still got time to meet them. Stay tuned. I’ll keep you posted on this whole Keto experiment. TTFN (ta ta for now).