Pastor Rick Warren says a faith-based, mostly-vegetarian diet helped him shed 30 pounds after the April 2013 suicide of his son Matthew, reports CBS.
Warren, who lost 65 pounds in 2011 on the Daniel Plan diet and workout regimen, said emotional eating was at the heart of his recent 35-pound weight gain.
“There are emotional reasons why you eat," said Warren, 59. "There are spiritual reasons why you eat. There are mental reasons.”
Pastor Rick said the combination of grief, insomnia, and lack of exercise fueled the overeating that caused him to regain 35 of the 65 pounds he lost two years ago.
I lost a son after 27 years of mental illness and I had a triple-whammy. First, I was in the hospital for a back problem, so I couldn’t exercise for about four months. Then I didn’t sleep for six months after Matthew died, and then I had church members that were bringing me food every day in larger quantities than I could possibly eat."
Warren detailed his diet in his book, The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life. The Daniel Diet is based on passages in the bible which described how the prophet Daniel fasted and ate only vegetables and water as a show of devotion to God.
Warren is back on the gluten-free "Daniel Plan" diet and has lost 30 pounds so far. He hopes to lose even more weight, and exercises regularly by swimming, lifting weights, hiking, and walking on the treadmill.
The Daniel Plan has also helped 15,000 members of Warren's Saddleback Church lose a combined 250,000 pounds (or about 17 pounds per person).
The Daniel Plan diet is largely plant-based, but you don't have to be vegetarian to follow it. It emphasizes eating whole, natural foods and eliminating gluten, sugar and processed junk foods.
While most people's weight-loss plans are motivated by vanity or health reasons, Pastor Rick said the idea of looking good or living longer did not inspire him.
However, the desire to help others does motivate him. Warren realized that he can't help others if he's unhealthy and exhausted all the time. He said the Daniel Plan works because of its underlying spiritual and community aspects.
“People that actually did the program together lost twice as much weight as people who did it alone,” Warren noted. “It was the power of the community. The community was the medicine.
"It’s powerful to show how they can help each other. They shop together. They cook together, ate together. They exercised together, and that accountability was what helped people change. ”