Dr. Hayman

The Blood Sugar Solution

By Mark Hyman, MD

Excerpted with permission from Little, Brown and Company

Chapter 16

Harness the Power of Community In the fall of 2010, I had dinner with Rick Warren, the pastor of the 30,000-strong Saddleback Church in Southern California. Over a healthy dinner of beet and cabbage autumn soup and a salad, he described his extraordinarily successful experiment for sustained personal growth and change. Rick had encouraged his congregation to form 5,000 small groups that met every week to study, learn, and grow together in their community. In that moment, I envisioned using those same small groups as a means of creating healthy lifestyle change. With the help of Drs. Mehmet Oz and Daniel Amen, we created The Daniel Plan, a 52‑week curriculum for physical and spiritual health and renewal that would be delivered through the small groups.

Rick named it “The Daniel Plan” after the book of Daniel, which tells the story of King Nebuchadnezzar and the Israelites he imprisoned. The First Support Group: Daniel and His Friends In the first chapter of the book of Daniel (Daniel 1:3–16), Daniel and his three enslaved friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, were commanded to eat from the king’s kitchen of rich foods and wine. Daniel and his friends were determined not to defile themselves by eating the food and drinking the wine. Daniel asked the chief of staff, Melzar, for permission to refuse the king’s command. But Melzar implored Daniel to do as he was told, so that he, Melzar, would not be beheaded for going against the king’s orders. He said that the king would know if Daniel and his friends hadn’t eaten his food because they would look malnourished. Daniel then gave him this challenge: Please test us for 10 days on a diet of vegetables and water. At the end of 10 days, see how we look compared to the other young men who are eating from the king’s food.

Then make your decision in the light of what you see. Melzar agreed to Daniel’s challenge and tested them for 10 days. At the end of 10 days, Daniel and his three friends looked healthier and better nourished than the young men who were eating the food assigned by the king. So after that Melzar fed them only vegetables instead of the food and wine provided for the others. God gave these four men an unusual aptitude for understanding every aspect of literature and wisdom. On January 15, 2011, the day we launched The Daniel Plan at Saddleback Church, more than 8,000 people signed up to participate in small groups, track their progress, and be part of a research study. Within two months, 15,000 people had signed up. The plan includes a weekly curriculum, learning objectives, videos, webinars, seminars, and online support. From a survey taken after the first six weeks, we found that the congregation had lost an estimated 160,000 pounds total (or about 8 percent of their body weight). After 10 months, the average weight loss for those who did the program was 18.6 pounds, and many lost 50 to 100 pounds. But those who did the program together lost twice as much weight as those who did it alone.

Many experienced relief from chronic symptoms, including migraines, asthma, reflux, irritable bowel, autoimmune diseases, depression, insomnia, cravings, joint pain, gout, acne, skin problems, and more. The Daniel Plan changed the entire culture of the church almost overnight. Local supermarkets and restaurants were offering Daniel Plan–friendly options. It worked as a treatment for disease. Diseases went away as a side effect of creating health. And one of the most important ingredients of the treatment is the healing power of the group itself.

I realized that the group is the medicine, the community is the cure.


MARK HYMAN, MD, is a New York Times bestselling author, was co-medical director of Canyon Ranch for ten years, and is now the chairman of the Institute for Functional Medicine and founder and medical director of The UltraWellness Center. His latest book The Blood Sugar Solution: The UltraHealthy Program for Losing Weight, Preventing Disease, and Feeling Great Now can be bought here . You can also learn more about Dr. Hyman at www.drhyman.com. *Excerpted with permission from Little, Brown and Company

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