The Daniel Plan

The Dangers inside the Diet

By Alice Trebus

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Pulses contain a high percentage of easily digestible protein by weight; as much as 20-25%. Except for low levels of methionine (an essential amino acid), the quality of pulse protein is fairly high. Pulses have twice as much protein as wheat and three times as much as rice. [6]

Grains can be combined with leguminous plants to form complete proteins if you know which ones to mix together. A meal that is complete in protein will contain all 20-21 basic dietary amino acids. Nine to ten of them are considered essential and ten to eleven others are regarded as non-essential. Pulses also provide complex carbohydrates and several vitamins and minerals, including iron, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc, and other minerals. Pulses have no cholesterol, and are low in fat and sodium and high in fiber. [7]

Sesame seeds, which are high in methionine, can be used to complete the protein in pulses. Corn is high in lysine, another essential amino acid that is typically found only at low levels in other grains.

Daniel wisely asked for pulses and water alone because controlling his diet in this manner ensured he would avoid all wine, unclean meat and anything non-kosher or dedicated to idols. He would then be protected from disobeying the religious, moral and dietary laws that God had given Moses at Sinai (Leviticus 11; Deuteronomy 14).


The Motive: Daniel's motive was simply not to compromise his beliefs, break God's laws, or dishonor Him. The Daniel Plan was established to help Warren and others lose weight, exercise regularly, support each other, and become healthier. [8]

The Content: While the biblical Daniel limited himself to pulses and water, The Daniel Plan encourages eating a much wider variety of foods. Each meal is divided up in the following manner: 25% protein (animal or vegetable); 25% whole grains or healthy starches; 50% non-starchy vegetables; a side of low-glycemic fruit (depending on the need to limit sugar); herbal teas, and water.

The Daniel Plan also encourages the use of certain spices and super foods that have been credited with having healing properties, as well as high-quality vitamin and mineral supplements. You can find a list of all recommended foods online; it can be adapted for anyone who prefers to follow a vegan or vegetarian diet. [9, 10]


The Daniel Plan is also a lifestyle program with five essential components: food, fitness, focus, faith and friends. Warren says, "The program incorporates healthy eating, regular exercise, stress reduction, prayer and support from other church members in small home groups." [11]


Are the foods allowed on the Daniel Plan diet healthy foods? Yes. Is the Daniel Plan diet biblical? No — and therein lies the rub.

Christians should not be surprised at the instant appeal a title like The Daniel Plan might offer them. We all hold the biblical Daniel in high regard and want to have the integrity and faithfulness that he had. One may infer from the title alone that if she goes on the Daniel Plan, she will be emulating the biblical Daniel. I don't know about you, but it bothers me to see a diet plan being called something different from what it really is. It seems like a misrepresentation and I am concerned that the Christian witness could be harmed by it.

While it is possible to get the basic information you need to go on the diet from the Daniel Plan website, everywhere you click there is something to BUY NOW. The Daniel Plan Store offers workout wear, towels, water bottles, campaign kits, journals, books, cookbooks, DVDs, audio guides, study guides, etc. As you read about the plan, it's hard not to get the impression (at least it was for me) that you will not be successful unless you use (buy) the tools and resources being offered. This can be an expensive proposition. The marketing is very aggressive and frankly, that disturbs me, too. I kept wondering how devastated the biblical Daniel would likely be if he could see everything being sold in his name and for what purpose. [12, 13]

Finally, many Christians have expressed concern about a pastor actively collaborating with doctors who are proponents and practitioners of Far Eastern religions, meditation, Reiki, the consultation of mediums, and other practices the Bible clearly forbids. Why not seek the advice of Christian doctors instead? Second Corinthians 6:15 reminds us "...what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?" First Timothy 3:2-3 declares, "An overseer [bishop or elder], then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money..."

I personally don't recommend a diet plan — even if some people have lost weight on it — if there was a chance that you could be led into confusion or encouraged to practice something that felt wrong spiritually (such as "meditative prayer," using Far Eastern meditation techniques). It's possible to eat healthfully and live an active lifestyle without that influence. [14, 15, 16]

6. Pulse (legume)
7. Nanci Helmmich; "Rick Warren shares the good news about weight-loss plan"
8. The Daniel Plan Good Foods List
9. "Enjoy God's Abundance"
10. The Daniel Plan Plate
11. Nanci Helmmich; "Rick Warren shares the good news about weight-loss plan"
11. The Daniel Plan website
13. The Daniel Plan, by Rick Warren, Daniel G Amen, MD, and Mark Hyman, MD. Kindle Locations 842-850
14. Tiffany Myers; "What does it mean to "meditate" on God's Word?"
15. Bob Seidensticker "Rick Warren: Is This Really the Way to Help People?"

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Published on 5-28-2014