Most of America's most obese metropolitan areas are in the Bible belt, and a study points to a higher risk of future obesity among church-going young people. But Christians may also have an advantage in reaching their dietary goals—one that comes straight from heaven. "I probably couldn’t do it if I didn’t have the Lord," says an adherent to the Daniel Fast, a diet based on the Biblical story of Daniel. According to the story, the Jewish noble rejects his captor's offer of meat and wine, instead sticking to vegetables. In recent years, many Christians have followed his example, albeit slightly altered, the Atlantic reports. They stick to fruits, vegetables, and whole grains for 21-day periods (and abstain from drinking anything other than water, the Daily Mail notes), and many continue to eat more healthily after the three weeks are up.
"Usually what happens is that people feel so good physically after they get past the first initial days, they want to keep it up," says Kristen Feola, who's written a book on the plan. The seventh-biggest US church, Saddleback Church in California, has been pushing a "Daniel Plan" under pastor Rick Warren; it calls for fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, and more than 15,000 people were participating as of last year. "Christians think we can eat to excess, and we don’t have to exercise if we don’t want to," says Feola. "But you can worship God by taking care of your body." Something else that might help Christians stick to the diet: A recent study finds prayer can help boost a person's self-control, Pacific Standard reports. (And some would probably argue the "God diet" is a better choice than, say, a juice cleanse.)