Pastor Rick Warren, author of the popular faith-based book The Purpose-Driven Life, as reported by USA TODAY, baptized 800 of his devoted followers at the Saddleback Church in Orange County, dipping their sizeable bodies into a pool of water. At the end of the day, he thought one thing: “Wow! Everybody's fat!”

This realization, along with his own expanding waistline, prompted Warren to consult with a few well-known doctors to create a diet plan. When he told his congregation about the new undertaking, 12,000 people signed up.

Now, three years later, Warren hopes his book The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life (Zonovan), written with help from doctors Mark Hyman and Daniel Amen, can help translate believers' religious fervor into a fervor for a more healthful lifestyle.

While much of L.A. is still swept up in trying to replicate diets from the Paleolithic era, The Daniel Plan takes its cues from a diet 10,000 years later (how forward-looking!), straight from the Old Testament. Having been taken prisoner by a Babylonian king, Daniel protested by rejecting the king's diet of meat and wine and instead asked to “be given some vegetables to eat and water to drink.” After ten days, he and his cohorts looked healthier and stronger than those who had eaten meat. Though, unlike other Daniel diets (shocking that there are multiple interpretations of a biblical passage, right?), Warren decided not to take the book literally, instead focusing the diet on natural foods: fruits, vegetables and lean protein.

If you've picked up the book, you're probably wondering how exactly you're going to get through Christmas. Between your mom's fudge cookies, your sister's pies and your uncle's signature cocktail, celebrating the birth of Jesus will, ironically, be your first challenge. Here are some ideas for how you can use The Daniel Plan to cope with the Christmas season, at least the food aspect of it.

5. Get your relatives in on the plan

The website touts that “sustained lifestyle change works best in groups or with a partner,” and while that may sound like a pyramid scheme, research backs this up.

4. Focus on fat to avoid sugar

The sound of the word “fat” may cause you to recoil, but grass-fed butter like Kerrygold is filled with a healthy amount of Omega-3's and other micronutrients — and research has shown that olive oil can be tremendously good for you. Sugar, on the other hand, may cause food cravings, insulin spikes and can be damaging to your hormones.

3. Keep exercising

Many think they need a gym and hours of free time for exercise to be effective. Not true, research shows. All you need is seven minutes and a chair; there are apps to help you. Schedule your workout before eating, and you may have the added benefit of funneling extra calories to your muscles instead of your stomach.

2. Cook with spices

It's easy to make foods taste good by pouring sugar, fat or salt all over them, but it's more healthful, and possibly interesting, to use spices. Many spices have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties while remaining virtually calorieless.

1. Pray

“Please God, don't let me get fat.” You know, when all else fails.

Want more Squid Ink? Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook. Benjamin Caro writes about health and travel at Follow him @benbencaro.

LA Weekly