What is The Daniel Plan?

The Daniel Plan is a groundbreaking healthy lifestyle program founded on biblical principles and focused on The Essentials: Faith, Food, Fitness, Focus and Friends. The program offers a comprehensive approach to achieving a healthy lifestyle where we get better together by restoring our health in each of these life areas. The best part is that each essential supports and influences the others, offering a practical step-by-step approach that anyone to follow.

The essentials of Faith and Friends are what we call the “secret sauce” that makes The Daniel Plan so effective.  The program benefits are accelerated when done in a supportive community of friends because God designed us to thrive in relationships. With the support of God and your group, you have far more than willpower helping you to make positive changes so you can be consistent and sustain your new healthy lifestyle.

Here’s the overarching message of The Daniel Plan: it’s about abundance, not deprivation.  That’s why the program is both transformational and sustainable.  It’s not an interim diet; it’s a practical lifestyle program that encourages you to take a step at a time in the right direction. You simply incorporate healthy choices into your lifestyle.  As you start to feel better physically, you become motivated to make changes in other areas of your life.

Where did the idea for The Daniel Plan come from?

This goes back to an afternoon when Pastor Rick was baptizing over 800 people over a four hour period.  As he lifted each person in and out of the water, he realized that so many people are overweight, himself included!  If he wasn’t prioritizing his health, how could he ask his congregation to do it?  In that moment, he decided to do something about it.  He stood in front of his congregation the next Sunday and confessed he had been a poor steward of his health and asked for forgiveness.  Although he only gained 2-3 pounds a year, he had been their pastor for 30 years!  Pastor Rick invited everyone to join him and get healthy. Over 12,000 people signed up on that very day!

Pastor Rick knew he needed to develop a practical, scalable plan that people could easily follow.  He recruited three internationally known doctors – Dr. Daniel Amen, Dr. Mark Hyman and Dr. Mehmet Oz – to coach him in getting healthy and help design The Daniel Plan program for the church to follow.  All three doctors generously offered their time and expertise, since they are all passionate about transforming health in America and around the world.

What type of success did Saddleback Church members see when the plan was implemented in 2011?

The initial results were amazing – over the first year of The Daniel Plan, over 15,000 people collectively lost over 250,000 pounds.  Beyond the church congregation, people from over 190 countries participated online.  The response was so large because The Daniel Plan provides you with all you need to become healthier in body, mind, and spirit. Beyond food and fitness, you are offered a gracious approach to make long term change, along with practical resources to get well spiritually, in your relationships, and in your mind – both mentally and emotionally. 

What makes “The Daniel Plan” different than other diet and exercise books?

What really makes it different than other program is that we look at more than just food and fitness. We integrate three additional components; the component of faith, which is the foundation; the component of friends, which is the context; and the component of focus, which is the direction and purpose. The Daniel Plan involves your mind, your spirit, your soul and your body – getting all these elements working together provides a way to make the long lasting changes we all desire.

The motivation of our program is unique as well. Many diets and fitness plans use guilt as a motivation, but that never works in the long run. You can guilt yourself into doing anything short-term, but the change will last only as long as the guilt (or fear) does. In contrast, The Daniel Plan is built with love as the motivation: Experiencing God’s unconditional love for you, learning to love him back, learning to love whom God made you to be, and learning to give and receive love from others in a small group setting.

What are The Daniel Plan Essentials?


God is the power and energy behind all transformational change and that includes making the lifestyle choices necessary for you to become healthy.  As you follow The Daniel Plan, you will discover that you have a part to play in getting healthier, but God will energize your efforts and give you his strength to do it (Philippians 4:13).


The Daniel Plan is about abundance, not deprivation.  You will be invited to eat delicious whole foods that bring vitality and energy to your body and mind  It’s all about learning that even your food choices can honor God and his purposes for your life (1 Corinthians 10:31).


We believe the most effective form of exercise you can do to achieve lifelong health is the one that you will actually do.  We encourage you to discover movement that you will enjoy and treat your body as a gift from God (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20).


In a world where so many distractions compete for your attention, it is more important than ever to renew your mind with truth (Romans 12:2) and break negative thought patterns. Focus your thoughts on God’s plan and priorities for your life. Express your gratitude to God and make the choice to dwell in God’s goodness.                           


When it comes to getting healthy, two are always better than one (Ecclesiastes 4:9). The Bible says God created the universe in such a way that we need each other. One of our key beliefs in The Daniel Plan is that “every ‘body’ needs a buddy” and that we are truly better together.

Making changes is never easy.  So where do I start?

Making big and lasting changes in our lives is never easy—whether it’s changes in the way we relate to others, the way we manage our time, the way we use our money, the way we do our work, or the way we treat our bodies. Whenever we want to improve or change something, we usually start out with great enthusiasm and hopeful expectations, but over time, those feelings fade, and so does our resolve. That is why the key to long-lasting success is to develop new, positive habits that replace our self-defeating behaviors. The Bible speaks of “putting off our old self and putting on a new self,” which includes our habits (Ephesians 4:22).

Our habits control our lives. We shape our habits; then our habits shape us. Too often, popular diet fads offer fast formulas, easy pills, and secret cures that supposedly will melt the fat away. By contrast, The Daniel Plan helps you to face the truth about yourself and your relationship to God, to food, to your purpose in life, and to other people. This program gets you started on the right pathway, on a journey that will cultivate new habits that will last a lifetime.


Why does “The Daniel Plan” begin with faith?

The Daniel Plan starts with faith, because spiritual health gives you a foundation for building habits and perspectives for health in any area. Faith is part of the secret of The Daniel Plan. Most people have tried a dozen diets and exercise programs. But health is about more than a program.

Health comes from recognizing and using God’s power in your life and treating your body and mind with the care that he intended.

“God can make changes in your life that you have never dared to even dream of. He specializes in miracle makeovers. Think about this: what positive changes in your life could happen if you relied on God’s unlimited power instead of your limited will power.”

If you don’t trust God to help you get healthy, all you are left with is willpower—and you know from experience that willpower doesn’t usually last very long. You get tired of doing what’s right, and you give up.  Many self-help books tell you how to change; the Daniel Plan gives you the power to change – God’s power.

Why did Saddleback Church and The Daniel Plan choose to use these Doctors, some who have other spiritual beliefs?

Saddleback Church selected some of the top experts in the country to help the congregation, community, and other people around the world to lead a healthy lifestyle for many years to come. With the help of Dr. Daniel Amen, Dr. Mark Hyman and Dr. Mehmet Oz, The Daniel Plan will reach a wider audience with a message of hope. For a more in-depth response, click here.

We realize some may have concerns about our association with doctors who may not share our own strong theological convictions about the nature of salvation and about the truthfulness of Scripture. Let us reassure you of some very important details.

    • Pastor Rick knows each Doctor personally and has the utmost trust in their ability to advise us about matters related to physical health.
    • We do not endorse any teaching outside of Scripture. We may ask a physician for advice about physical health matters, but our foundational beliefs of our church are carefully guarded by Pastor Rick and all of our Pastors. You can rest assured we will never compromise our belief that Jesus is the only way to heaven or that the Bible is the 100% completely infallible and perfect Word of God. The Doctors are helping us as friends, but are in no way advising our church on spiritual matters.
    • These particular Doctors have a high level of respect from the public and the medical community at large. Because of the high profile nature of who they are, involving them in this process has not only helped us to be very accurate in what we say about physical and mental health, they have also helped us to appeal to a much larger audience of people both inside and outside the faith.

Our primary objective as a church has always been and always will be to share the truth of the gospel with people who do not yet have a relationship with Christ. Rather than seeing this as a compromise of the gospel, we hope you’ll come to see it as an enormous opportunity to enlarge the influence of the gospel within our community and our nation.

We have already seen literally thousands of people on our campus as a result of involving these physicians who would never have otherwise visited. It thrills us to know that they will have an opportunity to hear the good news about Jesus, and this is our highest goal. We knew ahead of time that some leaders would criticize us for associating with Doctors who may or may not be believers, but we chose, to suffer that criticism for the greater cause of enlarging the audience of people who will hear the truth of Scripture about Jesus Christ.


Does The Daniel Plan offer a cookbook?

Yes! You can order it here.

I have read The Daniel Plan book. Do I have to do the 10-Day Detox?

It’s your choice. It is a great way for many people to get a “jump start” on a new way of eating, and many people find it very helpful and continue a little longer.

Otherwise, just begin to follow The Daniel Plan way of eating without the detox – that is lots of fresh whole foods, lots of non-starchy vegetables, low sugar fruit, lean protein (animal or plant-based), healthy oils and fats, no soda, junk food, processed food, fast food. You will find lots of resources in the food section of our website.  Be sure to review The Daniel Plan Plate and print out the good foods list.

Do you have a printable detox menu?

We do not have a printable detox menu at this time.

Why doesn’t The Daniel Plan Cookbook have any nutritional information listed with each recipe?

We have learned that a calorie is not a calorie. It’s about the quality of the calorie that counts!  We encourage you to read what Dr. Hyman writes about it on page 83 of The Daniel Plan book.

When you follow The Daniel Plan way of eating, you do not need to count calories or know percentages of fat. Just use The Daniel Plan Plate  as your guide – 50% low starch (low glycemic) veggies, 25% lean protein, and 25% starchy veggies or whole grains. The Daniel Plan eating lifestyle is very freeing, not to mention time saving and easy to follow.

We focus on eliminating soda, sugary drinks, junk food, processed food, fast food from your diet and focus on enjoying real, whole fresh food, lean proteins, lot of fresh vegetables and healthy fats. We do offer guidance on portions, so you don’t need to count calories.

It is important, however, to learn to read labels and make smart choices. For example, watching for sugar grams and avoiding unhealthy ingredients such as High Fructose Corn Syrup, MSG, and trans fats. To your health and happy cooking!

I need some help with the basics and understanding the major food groups. Can you help?

Yes! We have an article on danielplan.com that explains it all. Click here to read it.

I have a nut allergy, are there alternatives to almond milk for smoothies?

    • Coconut milk is a great option. It can be quite thick and rich, so you may want to dilute it with water. Experiment and see what works best for you.
    • Rice milk.
    • Soy milk – if you enjoy soy, be sure you buy only organic soy milk, otherwise it will be GMO (genetically modified).
    • Hemp milk is one you may not be familiar with. It’s a super healthy option. Make your own by blending 1/2 cup organic hemp seeds with 4 cups of water in high speed until it creamy, about 2-3 minutes. It will last in the refrigerator for about 5 days. Stir before each use. If you want to flavor it, add a pinch of salt, a little vanilla extract, or a little stevia for sweetness. You can even try cinnamon or spices that you enjoy. Have fun experimenting!

I am having a hard time eliminating caffeine. What can I do?

If you want to try removing caffeine, start reducing it slowly each day until you are free of it. Drink 8 glasses a day of filtered pure water. Try warm water with lemon juice in the morning. If you are a coffee drinker, try using a half-caffeine blend instead of full caffeine, if possible.

Here are more suggestions from Dr. Hyman:

  • The best water to drink is water that has been passed through a filtering process. Common and inexpensive filters are available such as carbon filters like the ones Brita makes. The best filter is a reverse osmosis filter that puts the water through a multi-step process to remove microbes, pesticides, metals, and other toxins. This can be installed under the sink. It’s a great filtering system and cheaper over the long run. Avoid water in plastic bottles which contains phthalates, a toxic petrochemical. Mineral water or still water in glass bottles is also acceptable.
  • To prevent headaches, make sure your bowels are clean (by getting enough fiber, eat lots of green vegetables)
  • If you are tired, allow more time for sleep.
  • Take 1,000 mg buffered vitamin C with breakfast and dinner.
  • Exercise daily to help fight off fatigue.  Even simple walking is good.
  • Some people rely on substituting coffee for real food. When you are hungry make sure to eat and do not let your blood sugar get low. Have some protein in the afternoon such as a handful of nuts or seeds like almonds, pecans, walnuts, or pumpkin seeds, cooked beans, or a piece of steamed or baked fish.
  • If you’re irritable or have trouble sleeping, take a combination of calcium citrate 500 mg and magnesium citrate 250mg before bed.
  • Drink 1-3 cups of GREEN TEA.  The small amount of caffeine won’t hurt and the antioxidants will heal.
  • Take a sauna or heat therapy in a bath.  (Try adding Epsom salts to your a bath and soak for a while).
  • Practice pressing the pause button.  Withdrawal can be stressful and research has shown that meditation and other mindfulness based activities can help calm an over-stimulated and stressed system while boosting the immune system.
  • Keep a journal and track your symptoms.  Note the difference in quality of energy you experience while off of coffee.
  • Consider a complete elimination program and avoid all refined sugars, flours, caffeine, alcohol, dairy, gluten and any other addictive substances.  By allowing certain triggers to stay in the diet the body stays on the vicious cycle of cravings and addictive behavior.  Reset your biology by eliminating all these dietary triggers for inflammation and fatigue

Is there a plant based version of the Daniel plan?

The Daniel Plan supports and respects your lifestyle as a vegetarian or vegan. Although we do not offer a total plant-based version of The Daniel Plan, we do encourage you to eat an abundance of fresh vegetables, low glycemic fruit, whole grains, and healthy fats .

If you are following a purely plant based diet, be sure to include healthy fats. Fat is not the enemy. Like Dr. Amen teaches, our brains are mostly fat, so we need good healthy fat! Fat also helps us to feel full and satisfied. To include more healthy fat in your diet, choose healthy oils, nuts, seeds, avocado, etc.

There are many ways to get enough protein when you are a vegetarian including eggs, beans, tofu and tempeh.

It’s more expensive to eat fresh whole foods and I’m on a tight budget. What can I do?

You aren’t alone!  Many of us are shopping for healthy food on a budget.  We have a whole list of tips you can read here.


I am a ministry leader and want to start The Daniel Plan in my church. How do I get started?

We have a portfolio of free marketing resources and a leaders guide. Click here to get started.

Can I register my small group and/or church online?

We are thrilled that thousands of people have formed small groups all over the nation and the world!  People are meeting in homes and churches and other community centers.  At this time we do not have a centralized small group registry, but it is definitely on our wish list.  We do offer online small groups you can explore here.

Do you have a small group curriculum?

Yes we have a foundational 6-week study.  You can order the DVD/Guide bundle and individual study guides.

What can our small group do when we complete the 6-week study?

The 6-week study is designed to set the foundation for your long-term Daniel Plan lifestyle.  After completing this foundational study, we encourage you and your group to stick together and continue living The Daniel Plan lifestyle.  You can meet and utilize any of the resources on our website to facilitate your discussion. 

For example, your group may want to learn more about sleep, and tips to get consistent restful sleep.  In that case you can use Dr. Hyman’s articl that outlines 19 powerful tips to help you restore a healthy sleep pattern.  Or maybe your group wants to spend more time in the kitchen and you can watch some of our food demos and cook together. 

The bottom line is, talk it over, get creative, and most of all have fun.  We have learned that many groups develop a “support” style meeting where they check in with each other, review new information, and reserve time to talk and share. 

Join our Facebook Community where we share inspirational messages and practical information every day, and be sure to sign up for your Free Health Profile and receive our weekly email newsletter.

In 2015, we will release additional study guides and we will keep you posted on our website.


Why do I get an error message when I try to input my numbers into my health profile?

The Health Profile form is designed to accept whole numbers only. You will get an error message if you attempt to enter a decimal.

How can I edit/update my profile and measurements?

To verify/edit your Health Profile baseline measurements and to track your daily progress, click here.

Can I have more than one profile using the same PC?

Yes. Simply “sign-out” of your first profile and then create a new or “Sign-in” with a second, third, etc.

What should I do if I have having issues with my online health profile?

I am sorry that you are having technical and/or login issues with your online health profile. For technical assistance, please call 949-609-8000 and ask for extension X4443 and someone on our team will be able to assist you.