By Peggy Matthews Rose

A key component for success in The Daniel Plan is to love yourself enough to stick with it. So how does that square, you ask, with the biblical teaching to love others and put them first?

“The whole command of God can be summed up in one command: ‘Love others as you love yourself,'” tweeted David Chrzan, Saddleback Church communications navigator. “I believe it’s the balancer or antidote to sin. Sin and pride are all about ‘self’ …. love isn’t. God’s love (not man’s love) brings balance to an otherwise dismal future of loneliness, pride, ego, and selfish desires.”

No one wants a dismal future, of course, either for themselves or for others. And that’s where loving yourself enough to stay on The Daniel Plan comes in. The most loving thing you can do for others, says Dr. Daniel Amen, is to safeguard your own health. And that begins with making informed choices.

“My day-to-day habits are either extending my life or shortening it, and most people don’t know it. When you understand the science, you realize that having the Diet Coke, the cheeseburger, or the banana split is not loving,” Dr. Amen affirms. “You are not taking care of yourself.

Somewhere along the way, we’ve become a society with dangerously unhealthy food obsessions. “One woman said she’d rather have Alzheimer’s than give up her sugar, others that they’d rather have heart disease or cancer!” Dr. Amen notes. “That indicates a seriously crazy relationship with food. Even our love language is centered around food: sugar, honey pie, sweetie. We never call anyone a blueberry!”

To win when it comes to your health, you must get motivation “in front of your face” every day. Dr. Amen recommends the One Page Miracle (outlined below), a tool he’s used successfully with patients at his clinic for years, as a way of identifying goals and staying focused on them. Journaling is another tool that’s shown to double weight loss in as little as 10 weeks. “It keeps you on track.”

Spiritual growth pastor Steve Gladen agrees that loving yourself is key to loving others. “In order to do ministry with all that’s going on in life,” Pastor Steve says, “you need to be at your best. If you aren’t at your best physically, the enemy doesn’t have to work on you to slow you down, you are tired all by yourself. I want the enemy to have to WORK to get me off my A game!”

“If you love yourself, make decisions that are consistent with your health,” Dr. Amen said. “If you love your family, make decisions that are consistent with their health. Don’t insist they eat everything on the plate. That’s not love—that’s stupidity.

“We’ve got to transmit to our congregation and now to millions around the world that eating good food and exercising daily and making good decisions are the most thoughtful and loving things we can do. Part of that is The Daniel Plan. Do it together.

“It’s a brilliant system Pastor Rick has created, using churches, houses of worship, to do this plan. Lots of research shows we get better together. The people you spend time with are contagious. If your small group is dismissive of The Daniel Plan or is not taking it seriously, be careful.”

Pastor Steve agrees the best way to succeed in changing unhealthy patterns is through community. “Those who are working on anything have a better rate of overcoming or accomplishing that thing if you have community supporting you. Isolation is an easy target for the enemy to discourage.”

“When you do the right thing, it is self-love,” Dr Amen concludes. “It is doing what God asks you to do. Your life is the sum of all the decisions you make. If you really want to be a child of God, love your neighbors as you love yourself. Giving in to pizza is slow suicide.”


  1. Keep eating well and exercising! The Daniel Plan is a form of self-love, because you’re taking care of your most precious resource.
  2. Don’t believe every stupid thought you have. Little lies can sabotage your success. (In his book, Change Your Brain, Change Your Body, Dr. Amen calls this “Killing the ANTS.”)
  3. Stop blaming other people for how your life is turning out. When you do that, you’re a victim and you can’t change.
  4. Go back regularly to your One Page Miracle (see below).
  5. Revisit the “Tips to Maintain Your Motivation“.
  6. Celebrate weekly success. If you’re on a plateau, go back to the major principles of the plan and figure out how you fell short. Journaling is key.
  7. If this is about love, make sure you are giving this away—that you are giving the people in your environment what they need to be healthy. They influence you and you influence them.


Finally, Dr. Amen says to do the basics of The Daniel Plan, don’t cheat and don’t lie to yourself, and you will get healthier. You just will.

  1. Know your numbers and track them weekly
  2. Stop eating foods with bad ingredients (sugar, flour, nitrates, food coloring, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils)
  3. Eat good foods (vegetables, 1-2 fruit per day, lean protein)
  4. Supplement your diet with vitamins (Omega-3, Vit.D, multiple vitamins)
  5. Exercise daily
  6. Plug into a small group, or workout buddy.
  7. Stay motivated by tapping into God’s power. Quiet time. Journaling. Celebrate even small successes.


From Change Your Brain, Change Your Body, by Dr. Daniel Amen, Three Rivers Press, 2010

On a piece of paper, write down the specific goals you have for your life, including:

  • Your health
  • Your relationships
  • Your work
  • Your money

Take your time with this exercise . . . jot down ideas and goals as they come to you . . . . take your first draft and put it somewhere you’re sure to see it every day.

Then ask yourself, does my behavior get me what I want—which is love?