The Daniel Plan – A Review

New Years’ Resolutions. You either love them or hate them. Personally, they get me motivated to do some hard things. I am a very goal-oriented, list-making kind of person, so I love making New Years’ Resolutions. Of course, I didn’t say I love to keep them…

After reading The Daniel Plan, though, that could change.

I’ve seen The Daniel Plan in bookstores, and I’ve been wanting to investigate it for a while. Last year, I really got to thinking about what the Bible says about the food we eat. I know as Christians, we are permitted to eat anything God has made, but as Paul writes, just because we’re allowed to do something doesn’t always mean it’s beneficial. I wanted to know what kinds of foods they ate in the Bible, investigate the health benefits of those foods, and determine how I could implement those kinds of foods into my own diet.

While this book didn’t really address that question (as I had anticipated it would have by the title), The Daniel Plan by Rick Warren, Dr. Daniel Amen, and Dr. Mark Hyman, nevertheless, offers a Biblical method to “groundskeeping” of the temple of the Holy Spirit – your body.

The program approaches health in a five-fold way: Faith, Food, Fitness, Focus, and Friends. The way this is set up reminds me of a rope. A 2-ply rope isn’t going to be nearly as strong as a 5-ply rope. In the same way, a health program that just does diet and exercise is pretty much bound to fail unless you have will power of iron. But, one that incorporates those aspects with the spiritual, relational, and mental has a much better chance of fulfilling its purpose.

In the faith part of the book, the authors convey to readers the importance of relying on God for strength in getting healthy. They emphasize the need for spiritual health and vitality in order to become physically well. I really liked that this is included as the first part of The Daniel Plan. After all, apart from God, we can do nothing.

The food part of the book obviously addresses diet. The authors advocate eating nothing but whole foods 90% of the time. They advise readers to follow the “Daniel Plan plate” (kind of like the USDA’s My Plate): 50% non-starchy veggies, 25% lean protein, 25% whole grains/starchy veggies, with a side of low-glycemic fruit and water or herbal tea to drink.

The fitness chapter addresses the importance of exercise in one’s lifestyle. The authors recommend following an exercise program designed around the acronym PLAY – Prayerful movements throughout your day, Loosening breaks, Active games and aerobic activity, and Youthful strength training. This approach allows Daniel Plan participants to stay active throughout the day (even if it’s just doing a set of push-ups every hour) while focusing on God and burning calories.

The focus chapter addresses the mental factor. Here, the authors make plain that in order to succeed in The Daniel Plan, the reader has to get rid of negative, victimizing thoughts. No more “I don’t have any control over what I eat,” or “I don’t have time to exercise.” Instead, the authors challenge readers to examine each thought with this question: “Is it true?” (Sound familiar? See Philippians 4:8).

Finally, the friends section provides the secret to the success of The Daniel Plan – social support. Getting one or more friends to join the reader on his or her journey to health is the authors’ prescription for making the most out of The Daniel Plan. They recommend doing things in a group, such as exercising, studying God’s word, and encouraging. I thought some of their suggestions sounded like fun – activities like starting a salad circle at work, hosting a cooking day to prepare healthy meals in bulk, or starting a dinner or breakfast club.

My overall impression of the book was favorable. I very much enjoyed the information, and I have even implemented some of the changes recommended by the authors. However, I felt that the book’s title is somewhat misleading. Daniel isn’t mentioned a whole lot, and I feel as though the authors fail to connect the program with this Biblical character (which would have strengthened their argument, in my opinion).

But, The Daniel Plan is a great read for the New Year (and a great re-read to keep us motivated throughout 2016). If you’re looking to lose a few pounds, tone a few muscles, or eliminate excess fats and sugars from your diet, you’ll want to read The Daniel Plan.

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