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.