The Daniel Plan

The Dangers inside the Diet

By Alice Trebus

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The idea for the Daniel Plan was conceived in November, 2010, after a pastor named Rick Warren baptized over 800 people by immersion in one day. Lowering so many people into the water caused Warren to realize that everyone was overweight, including himself. He decided to do something about it.

Warren consulted with three high-profile doctors who are also best-selling authors (Mehmet Oz, Daniel Amen and Mark Hyman) and enlisted their help in developing a diet and exercise plan. Once the strategy was complete, Warren invited his congregation (over 22,000 members) to join him in the effort to lose weight, exercise more, and get healthier. Twelve thousand people signed up initially to participate. [1]


Warren said, "We just took the title [The Daniel Plan] from that concept [Daniel's request to eat only vegetables and water in the first chapter of Daniel]. It [the plan] doesn't try to follow what Daniel ate, because the Bible doesn't tell us exactly what he ate." [2]

The prophet Daniel comes to our attention initially in the Old Testament, in the first chapter of the book of Daniel. Around 605 B.B., King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon besieged Jerusalem and captured it:
The king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility—young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king's palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king's table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king's service. (Daniel 1:3-5)
It's not clear how many young Israelite men (many of them teenagers) were captured altogether, but the young prophet Daniel and three of his friends — Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah — were among them (Daniel 1:6).

As devout Jews, Daniel and his friends followed Mosaic Law and did not eat anything the Law defined as "unclean." Once Daniel learned that he was to be given a daily allotment of unclean food and wine from the King's table, he became determined not to defile himself by partaking of it (Daniel 1:8).

Daniel diplomatically requested permission from the commander of the officials to eat only "pulses" (KJV rendering; other translations say "vegetables") and drink only water for ten days. "Then let our appearance be observed in your presence and the appearance of the youths who are eating the king's choice food; and deal with your servants according to what you see" (Daniel 1:13).

The commander agreed, and in ten days' time, Daniel and his friends looked much healthier than all of the youths who ate and drank the food and wine from the King's table. The four young men had even gained weight, so they were permitted to continue eating pulses and drinking water (Daniel 1:15-16).


Daniel objected to eating the King's meat and wine primarily for religious, spiritual and moral reasons (Daniel 1:8; Leviticus 11:4-20). The Old Testament warns that a person should prefer to cut his own throat rather than being desirous of a ruler's "dainties" and "deceitful meat" (Proverbs 23:1-3). Daniel trusted God to keep him and his friends healthy in spite of a limited diet, because they refused to break faith with Him in spite of being under extreme pressure to do so. "...however wholesome, [pulses were] not naturally calculated to render them [Daniel and his peers] fatter in flesh than the others." [3]

What made the king's food and drink unclean? Consider pork, which was a favorite of the Babylonians, even though it is common for pigs to eat their own feces (a phenomenon called coprophagia). In those days, meat was typically eaten either raw or undercooked. Pork is one meat in particular that should be thoroughly cooked because of the high degree of bacterial and parasitic contamination. God protected the Jews by forbidding them from consuming the flesh of swine (Leviticus 11:7-8). [4]

Old Testament dietary laws also forbade indulging in intoxicating wine (Proverbs 23:31-35). Drinking wine mixed with blood was even worse — an abomination to God — but it was a practice the Babylonians were well known for (Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 3:17).

Additionally, meat from the palace would also most likely have been dedicated to idols, before being served to King Nebuchadnezzar and his court. Daniel may have either witnessed this practice or suspected it was going on, since he was as well educated as he was pious.

It is interesting to note that the barbaric Babylonians were sophisticated in at least one area: cooking. Eating their rich, perhaps spicy food might have upset Daniel's stomach, since he would have been used to simpler, kosher fare. However, this would have been low on Daniel's priorities list. Instead, he surely recognized that by eating the king's food and drink, others would see it as a sign of his acceptance and approval of pagan beliefs and practices.


Pulses (Daniel 1:12, KJV) may be defined as follows: " edible seed that grows in a pod...all beans, peas and lentils..." [5]

Pulses have also been described as all leguminous plants which have been pulled or plucked, but not reaped. Under certain circumstances, this could include grains such as corn, wheat or barley. For example, Mosaic Law permitted one to eat fresh, raw grain from a neighbor's field by rolling the ears in the hands to free the grain from the husks, but it could not be harvested with a sickle (Deuteronomy 23:25; Matthew 12:1).

There is some argument as to whether or not pulses consist of only the seed or bean portion of a plant, or the entire plant. Certain fruits (such as dates), roots, and leaves are sometimes considered to be pulses.

Daniel's request for pulses would not have been unusual for the young Hebrew. A typical Jewish household's daily diet was almost exclusively vegetarian. Meat was usually only served on special occasions (such as a wedding). We can't know exactly what Daniel ate since some varieties of pulses that were available then would not be obtainable now, and vice-versa.

Continue to Page Two

1. Nanci Helmmich; "Rick Warren shares the good news about weight-loss plan"
2. Ibid.
3. Daniel 1:12
4. Definition: corprophagia
5. Northern Ireland Direct; "Beans, pulses, nuts and seeds"

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Published on 5-28-2014