Small changes equal big results

Step-by-step spiritual diet plan keeps the focus on faith, food, fitness, and friends

The latest diet fad hits the mainstream media, and people flock at the first thought of losing weight. Even Christians who are supposed to treat their bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit turn their heads when news of a new diet breaks.

The Daniel Plan, which Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren began in 2011, focuses on the five essential F’s: faith, food, fitness, focus and friends and is a “groundbreaking healthy lifestyle program founded on biblical principles,” according to The step-by-step program focuses on integrating healthy choices in someone’s life in order to get the mind, spirit, body and soul all working together effectively.

According to the Daniel Plan website, faith is essential for the lifestyle change, while food choices are made that honor God and accountability is used to encourage dieters. The plan focuses on eating whole foods instead of man-made, processed food and exercising in order to move toward physical health.

Liberty University freshman zoo and wildlife biology major Sarah Calhoun said she has taken part in the Daniel Plan multiple times, with the second time being more for spiritual reasons than health reasons.

Photo provided.

Photo provided.

“At first I wasn’t sure doing this type of fast would help me much spiritually,” Calhoun said. “It wasn’t as much of a struggle for me since I already eat very healthy and am pretty good at denying food cravings, but I was surprised. I found a lot of parallels between denying certain types of food and denying sin. Sometimes sin sneaks up (on) you, and it’s hard to say no until it’s too late, but saying no to sugar, meat, etc. is pretty black and white. I found that the diet strengthened my willpower and made me much more aware of everyday choices in my life, making it easier for me to recognize and steer clear of poor choices.”

Julianne Wells, a senior psychology student at Liberty, said she was better able to hear God speaking to her during the time when she did the Daniel Plan.

“I definitely grew in my relationship with the Lord during the fast,” Wells said. “My mind was clear, and I was better able to hear what he wanted to say to me. I had some really great prayer times during it.”

Wells also said she felt a lot healthier during the plan.

The Daniel Plan was created to be done in community. The website said Warren began the plan after baptizing members of his congregation and coming to the conclusion that he and many of them were very overweight. On the day he announced he was beginning his journey to a healthier lifestyle, more than 12,000 people signed up to join him on that day.

Junior nursing student Jordan Reid participated in the Daniel Plan with her mother — giving her the accountability and help she needed.

“She provided the perfect amount of accountability as she not only helped with … preparing food, but also encouraged me and kept me accountable to remaining on the fast when it got harder,” Reid said.

During the plan, Reid said she felt much healthier, but it took a while for her body to transition off of eating unhealthy food.

The Daniel Plan is not an overnight health fix as many people may want it, Dee Eastman, the program director of the Daniel Plan, said.

“People overall want to jump in with both feet and make all the changes at once,” East- man said via email. “While this is great for a 10-Day Detox, it’s not beneficial for cultivating a new lifestyle. Our motto is ‘progress not perfection’ and ‘small changes (equal) big results.’ When people forget those and adopt all or nothing thinking about health, they often get discouraged and revert to old habits.”

The Daniel Plan focuses on long-term lifestyle changes.

However, not everyone is on board with the Daniel Plan. Even some students at Liberty do not see the Daniel Plan as a beneficial program.

“The Daniel Plan is a lifestyle change that does not allow for many foods that are necessary for a body to function,” Mollie Burr, a sophomore nursing student at Liberty, said. “Many diets like this are not necessarily unhealthy for the body but can effect a person psychologically. … Eventually the body will start craving healthier foods, but that may take days, weeks or months, and if the person does not fill the cravings every once in a while, they will be miserable.”

The biblical character Daniel is who the plan is named after, but another program that has recently emerged in Christian culture is the Daniel Fast — a different short-term program. The Daniel Fast, according to, is similar to a vegan diet based off of Daniel’s fasting experiences in Daniel 1 and Daniel 10. The Daniel Fast is strictly done for spiritual reasons.

Matt Horne, a music and worship studies student at Liberty, has participated in the Daniel Fast for January of the last three years. Horne said he would be intentional about prayer during the times when he was hungry.

“Usually when I fast, I will fast over something specific to me that’s coming up in that year,” Horne said. “When you fast you realize how much God is your provision and your provider.”

Though the Daniel Plan or the Daniel fast are not for everyone, it is hard to deny the results of those who have dedicated their time to turning their lives around physically and spiritually — becoming all-around healthier people.

Liberty students and staff can both get involved in the Daniel Plan this semester. Students can attend meetings every Monday from Jan. 30–March 6 from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in DeMoss Hall 1106. Staff meet every Tuesday from March 21–April 25 from 12 p.m. – 1 p.m. in the Jerry Falwell Library 171. Both can register for the plan by emailing

RODRIGUEZ is the editor-in-chief.

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