THE DANIEL PLAN: 40 DAYS TO A HEALTHIER LIFE by RICK WARREN, DANIEL AMEN, MARK HYMAN
When I first heard of The Daniel Plan I imagined a radical vegetable and water detox regime. On seeing the subtitle of this book – 40 Days to a Healthier Life – the idea of a quick fix plan involving sacrifice and suffering was further strengthened.
However, I am pleased to be able to tell you that this is absolutely not the case as the book is rather a comprehensive plan to improve health and well-being, and ultimately one’s usefulness for Kingdom purposes. The approach is biblical, holistic and long-term, with renewal of the mind being a central concept.
The Daniel Plan came about when Pastor Rick Warren realised that not only was a large number of his congregation at Saddleback Church, California fat, but that he was also! With sudden clarity he saw what a bad example he was setting. After a public confession to this effect, he asked members of his congregation to join him in losing weight and getting healthy and 12 000 signed up!
As Warren knew nothing about getting healthy he recruited three well known doctors to help him in designing The Daniel Plan, which was then piloted at his church. Drawing on the scientific expertise of these men in their various fields and on his own excellent understanding of biblical principles and their application, the plan (actually in essence a strategy) is based on five essentials – Faith, Food, Fitness, Focus and Friends.
Faith deals with the need for spiritual health as a foundation for building better habits and making right choices. The concept of our bodies as the temple of the Holy Spirit is relevant here.
There is a great deal of information regarding better Food choices – a lot of things we probably all know but in my experience there is always further understanding to be gleaned on this topic – which are the good fats and why, etc.
Included is a 40 day meal planner – hence the sub-title of the book. Personally, I prefer to follow general principles, but for those that like a structured “diet” with a lot of variety this would be useful. I will certainly be trying some of the recipes which accompany the diet plan. A 10 day detox plan is also included.
As is to be expected, Fitness deals with all the wonderful ways that exercise improves our lives. But there is also acknowledgment of the difficulties of turning resolutions into action. Good practical advice is given on how to incorporate effective, enjoyable and sustainable physical movement into our lives. “The Daniel Plan integrates motion with devotion and brings back the fun and joy to your fitness and life”. Sounds good to me.
The Focus section, with sub-titles such as “Change Your Brain, Change Your Health” and “Renew Your Mind” I found particularly interesting as it is here that the authors deal with how real and positive change can manifest in our lives through our choosing to change the way we think.
Finally, the Friends aspect deals with our interconnectedness. Our social peer group can have an effect on all aspects of our lives, including our health. If we live in a society where there are a great deal of life-style induced health issues affecting quality of life and we can see we are “going with the flow” then we need to seek out God’s principles that will lead us into a more abundant life. We need not be “conformed to the ways of the world”. Our need for relationship one with another should rather be transformed into seeking out support from and supporting others in making healthy changes.
The Daniel Plan includes a great many testimonies, which of course are encouraging. Warren also gives insight based on personal experience of living out the Plan, which adds much to the richness and authenticity of the book.