So what is it? The Daniel Plan is a 40-day healthy lifestyle plan consisting of the 5 F’s: faith, food, fitness, focus and friends. It gets its name from Daniel in the Bible who, along with his 3 friends, turned down the rich foods of the king who held them captive. Instead, they opted for vegetables and water. After 10 days, Daniel and his friends were healthier and better nourished than those who ate from the king’s table.
Here’s what I like about it: This isn’t just about eating well. And it’s not just about working out. It’s about your life as a whole: mental, physical and spiritual. They all affect each other, so it makes sense to look at the big picture. The Daniel Plan is also big on getting some friends to do it with you. That keeps you accountable, encourages you along the way and gives you people to celebrate the victories with.
My biggest question at the start of this thing was “What can I eat?” Well, the first 10 days you’re supposed to do a detox. That means no dairy, no gluten, no added/refined sugar and no caffeine.
After the 10 days, you can add a little dairy and gluten back into your diet to see how your body responds, but for the most part, you should eat fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans and lean meat/fish—what the plan calls “real” food: whole, fresh and unprocessed.
At the start of the plan, Pete and I went to the grocery store to get ingredients for a few new dishes I wanted to make. We looked a lot closer at labels and bought some things we’ve never bought before. Some things were more expensive, but healthier, and many of the items will go a long way.
So far, the hardest part has been turning down a couple of amazing looking desserts at a party and at Bible study over the weekend. I also found myself a little jealous over the cheese in Pete’s sandwich, but overall, I surprisingly haven’t craved that many things I can’t have. Instead of regular crackers, I got some gluten-free, six-seed crackers that I actually like a lot. And instead of some kind of sugary treat, I made some raw brownie bites that curb the chocolate craving. (Pete thinks they’re weird, but I like them. They’re made with dates, pecans and cocoa powder.)
Some things I’ve missed are craisins in my salad, my favorite multi-grain chips, my favorite salsa, sunflower seed butter (like peanut butter) and veggie chips. All because sugar is an ingredient, and that’s a no-no these first 10 days.
What are some benefits of this plan? As I mentioned, The Daniel Plan is about 5 essentials, the 5 F’s. One of those is fitness. Exercise can increase energy, reduce anxiety and depression, improve muscle strength, sharpen focus, help manage weight and increase productivity. Another area of focus is food. Eating well can improve skin, balance hormones and eliminate certain allergies. It’s more satisfying than processed food and can cut down on inflammation that’s linked to things like heart attacks, diabetes, cancer and dementia. That’s not an exhaustive list, but those are some highlights.
What I want to get out of it: I’d like to become more familiar with healthier substitutions, like raw honey instead of white sugar, or coconut oil instead of butter. I’d also like to see healthier skin and to crave fewer sweets.
How’s it going? A few people have asked me this. I still have 33 days to go, but so far, so good. When I feel full after eating, it’s not an icky, I-feel-blah full. It’s a satisfied full. I did make a bulgur wheat dish yesterday and had two helpings of that (yesterday and today) before realizing it has gluten in it. Oops. I think I was getting it confused with buckwheat, which doesn’t have gluten. I’m also experimenting with quinoa, lentils and sweet potatoes. I’ve had all these things before, but they don’t make a regular appearance. As for the spiritual side, I’m asking for God’s help to make these lifestyle changes (since willpower alone doesn’t always cut it), and I’m reading through the book of Daniel.
Here are some of my favorite passages from The Daniel Plan:
- “There is no magic pill, no quick fix, no instant formula, and no shortcut that will make you healthy overnight. You must make wise choices every day.”
- “When God puts his Spirit inside you, your body becomes a temple of God, a residence for his love. So let me ask you this: If you saw someone vandalizing or damaging a temple dedicated to God, wouldn’t you consider that a crime? Of course! But you abuse and vandalize God’s temple, your body, when you deprive it of rest and sleep, overeat, put too much stress on it, and fail to take care of it.”
- “Food is medicine. Food is the most powerful drug on the planet. … Every bite you take is a powerful opportunity to create healing or infirmity.”
- “We have been convinced that it is time-consuming, expensive, and difficult to eat well. We are here to tell you that enjoying real, fresh, whole food is easy, inexpensive, and most important, delicious.”
- “Without God’s power in your life, you are just running on your own energy. God never meant for you to do that. … Think of it this way: You have a small battery inside you. It has a limited amount of energy. When it depletes, you shut down. At the same time, God offers you access to his unlimited power plant. All you need to do is plug in—and the power cord is prayer.”
- “We have outsourced our cooking to the food industry for packaged, processed, and prepared convenience foods and to fast-food restaurants and convenience stores. But there is nothing convenient about feeling disconnected, sluggish, slothful, foggy, or depressed or having the diseases you get and medications you have to take when you fuel up with ‘convenient food.'”
Well that’s all for now. I’ll update you again next week!