Monday, June 30, 2014

The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life

Book Review

The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life
By Rick Warren, DMin, Daniel Amen, MD, and Mark Hymen, MD
Zondervan (2013)
Reviewed by Jessica Crandall, RDN, CDE


The Daniel Plan details a lifestyle program based on five principles including faith, food, fitness, focus and friends. The program originated in 2011 and within the first year more than 15,000 church members lost, collectively, more than 250,000 pounds while reporting decreases in health issues and stress and increases in spiritual growth and energy.

Synopsis of the Diet Plan

The diet plan focuses on a plate containing 50 percent non-starchy vegetables, 25 percent healthy animal or vegetable proteins and 25 percent healthy starches or whole grains, along with a low-glycemic fruit and water or herbal tea. Readers are provided with a list of "good foods" on which to base meals. Produce is divided into two separate categories, one of which can be eaten freely. The book suggests that users purchase wild or grass-fed and hormone- and antibiotic-free meat and seafood, if possible. A sample three-day menu is provided, and a cookbook is available for more extensive meal planning.
Supplements are recommended during the program. For both men and women, these include: a high-potency, high-quality, highly bioavailable multivitamin and mineral; vitamin D3; omega-3 fatty acids; and probiotics. It is recommended that women also take calcium and magnesium.

Nutritional Pros and Cons

The program uses diet and exercise, along with emotional support, in a positive way, which is beneficial. Preparing meals at home from raw ingredients is encouraged, which is also positive. While the program has a good overall goal, the dietary portion is restrictive and not individualized. It also appears a registered dietitian nutritionist was not consulted.
The list of "good foods" provided for the program tends to portray some foods — such as pastas, nuts and oils — in a negative light, which is discouraging, as RDNs prefer that food is seen in correct proportions and in moderation rather than cutting out particular items completely. Some oils, such as canola and olive, have been seen to have positive effects on cholesterol. The program promotes forgiveness and moving forward if one falls back, but does not seem to allow for generalized moderation. The caffeine restriction could be tough for many and seems extreme. There is also the issue of preparation time, as the suggested recipes for meals seem lengthy.

Bottom Line 

 The program has strong components to help clients be successful including behavior modification, nutrition, exercise and support. The nutrition section could be improved by an RDN offering more meal planning ideas, facts about foods and science-based nutrition facts. The encouragement aspect could be helpful for some, but the dietary restrictions could make the program difficult for the average reader to stick to for 40 days.
~ The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2014

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Salad in a Bag

 If there is one thing nutrition experts agree on, it's that we need to eat more vegetables. The Sweet Kale Vegetable Salad makes the task easier than ever. It contains "7 Superfoods," not just any veggies. We're talkin' nutrient-rich leafy greens and their cruciferous cousins, as in (shredded) broccoli, brussels sprouts, green cabbage, kale, chicory, dried cranberries, and roasted pumpkin seeds. It comes with it's own package of poppy seed dressing. For variety, there is also a Ginger Bok Choy Vegetable Salad Kit available. Look for various brands at your grocers produce aisle. Each serving (1 cup) provides 150 calories, 2 g. fiber, 70% the daily amount of vit. C, 20% of vit. A, and just 150mg. sodium.
To find these products in your area, visit

Whey Cool

Yogurt is one of humanity's oldest processed foods, with evidence of its creation potentially going back 7,000 years. It’s made and used in a variety of ways in societies from India to Europe to the Middle East to Africa. All these varieties of yogurt share a few things in common. Each is made with live cultures, which are a kind of good bacteria that transform liquid milk into the sour taste and thick consistency of yogurt. And all yogurts contain important nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, protein, potassium and B vitamins.
 The whey is the liquid that can pool at the top of a yogurt container, and it is the source of much of yogurt's calcium.Whey (actually the absence of it) is key to Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt has most of the whey removed through a process of straining, leaving a product that is thicker, with more protein, but less calcium — unless calcium is added back. Read the ingredients to see if calcium has been added. Whey is also the "protein of choice" for muscle tissue, as it is the most readily absorbed by the cells. To get more whey protien, stick with the traditional yogurts.
For people with lactose intolerance who don't want to give up on dairy's nutritional benefits, yogurt can be a good option. Yogurt contains less lactose than ice cream and milk because the introduced bacteria – also called "live cultures" with names such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. casei, L. reuteri and Bicfidobacterium bifidum (or Bifidus) — help digest the lactose. Even for people with no problems digesting lactose in other forms of dairy, live cultures in yogurt are still beneficial. They promote overall gut health and immunity. To make sure the yogurt product you're considering has these cultures, either look on the ingredient label for the bacteria listed above, or the National Yogurt Association's "Live and Active Cultures" seal.

Spa Water

Looking for a truly refreshing summer beverage with nothing artificial added? Make it yourself! Fill a pitcher with ice water. Add some thinly sliced citrus fruit (lemons, limes, oranges), thinly sliced cucumber, and a few sprigs of mint. Store in the refrigerator over night. Top with ice as needed, and you'll have a healthy cool drink on hand all day.