If you’re in the market for a new diet buddy, many would suggest looking for someone with a little more power. A higher power, if you will. In the last few years Christian-based diet and exercise programs have surged in popularity.
In 2011, Pastor Rick Warren introduced the Daniel Plan based on the Old Testament story of Daniel who was held captive by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel and his companions refused the heavy food and wine from the king’s table, instead consuming fruits, vegetables and water. After 10 days they were in better health than those who had eaten the king’s food.
Pastor Warren was inspired by Daniel and his friends, and used them as a model of healthy Christian living. The website for the Daniel Plan states, “He understood God wanted him to live a healthy lifestyle so he could serve God no matter where he was located.”
Pastor of Saddleback Church in Southern California, Warren followed the strict vegan diet plan and encouraged his large congregation to do the same. Just a year later, the mega-church had lost a collective 270,000 pounds. Warren attributes this success to the diet program and of course, its spiritual foundation.
Warren and his congregation aren’t the only group to use the connection to God to help with weight loss and fitness. There are Christian-based radio shows and books that help connect people over their fitness goals. Many such support systems reinforce the belief that the body is a host to the Holy Spirit, and as such, should be kept in peak physical form.
One way to do that is through Christian yoga. Though some prominent Christians have denounced yoga as a way of opening oneself to the devil, many others see it for what it is: great exercise that also encourages meditation and reflection. Those who practice Christian yoga keep the traditional poses (though they may be renamed) and methodology and infuse it with their own Christian beliefs.
Many churches have members that believe in participation of fasts for religious reasons. The most common of those is the Lenten fast which encourages the faithful to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday and abstain from meat every Friday during lent.
Though fasts are done for religious reasons with the purpose of bringing someone spiritually closer to God, weight loss is a nice secondary effect. Some Christians incorporate principles they learned while fasting into their daily lives, allowing for better self-control.
If combining faith and fitness works for you, then go for it. Christianity and a healthy lifestyle certainly aren’t mutually exclusive. The Daniel Plan website says this on the matter, “Healthy living requires faith as the foundation, trusting that God’s way is the best way, while following his prescription for your health.”