While baptizing people two years ago, Pastor Rick Warren noticed that not only were his parishioners fat, but that he was overweight, too.
"I was baptizing about 850 people on one day. And, we put them under the water. And, I realized we are all fat. That was the thought that went through my mind. We are all fat. And, then I thought, 'I'm fat,'" Warren said Thursday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
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The revelation led him to a new diet plan, based on the biblical story of Daniel. The result was a book, "The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life," coauthored with Drs. Daniel Amen and Mark Hyman.
Warren is founder and pastor of the 25,000-member Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif. He said he borrowed some of the same principles from his bestselling book, "A Purpose Driven Life," and applied them to diet.
The program emphasizes participating in small groups, while working to "change the autopilot" that drives behavior and eating habits over 40 days, he said.
"What we're doing is we're saying,'Forty days is not the turning point. Forty days is establishing the habits you're going to have for the rest of your life,'" Warren explained.
Co-author Hyman, who appeared with Warren on the show, described how interactions with others could lead to a change in behavior.
"People change the behavior, not because someone tells them to, but if your friends are doing it. It's the social connections that actually drive our behavior," Hyman said.
The diet focuses on "food made by God, not made by man," Hyman added.
"Food that came from nature, not made in a factory, that was grown in a plant and not made in a plant. People had extraordinary changes. It wasn't a weight-loss program. It was a program to create health," Hyman said.
Amen, who also was on the program, said the diet couples eating healthy with getting enough sleep. One is no good without the other, and he stressed that it also encourages eating plenty and not skipping meals.
"This diet is about abundance. So the food is amazing. And when you get well, your kids get well. Your spouse gets well. People at work get well. And, that's what we saw," he said.
"Most diet plans are motivated by guilt or fear. Or the mirror," Warren said. "This one is actually motivated by love."
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