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Faith-Based Diet Helps Some Shed Those Extra Holiday Pounds

FARMINGTON HILLS (WWJ) - Forget Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers. This holiday season, it's all about the faith-based diet. And as WWJ's Kathryn Larson found out, one metro Detroit synagogue is the first in the world to tackle obesity at the holy level.

Food and faith at this time of year are hard topics, and Rabbi Aaron Bergman, from Adat Shalom Synagogue in Farmington Hills, said they go hand in hand.

"I grew up at a time where a lot of people had come out of great poverty and had some prosperity," he said. "So there was a fear of being too skinny, but then it was always like 'Here, have some more. How come you're gaining weight?'"

Bergman said he wants the flagship Jewish house of God to be known for eating right.

"I think sometimes when you feel that you're just going it alone, it's very hard to do. But I think a sense of community brings people together," he said.

If you thought this was a typical support group, you were wrong. These groups will meet twice a week during the holiday season and those in attendance will read certain scripture to help motivate and encourage the core beliefs.

"Your body doesn't ask it whether it's Jewish, Christian or Muslim or Hindu or Buddhist. Your body just wants to know are you being kind," said Bergman.

But the new healthy Hebrew diet can't be done unless there is guidance in health eating.

"You should be a bit educated and know the link between what goes in your mouth and how you're going to feel the next day and the next week, and your chance of staying healthy," said DMC Wellness Director Dr. Joel Kahn.

Kahn said that's why he's preaching the message of nutrition and eating veggies and fruits to those who will listen. And those in attendance, like Joyce Torby, are paying attention,

"I would rather pay the grocer than the doctor, no offense to doctors, who are wonderful people," she said.

And Torby knows that with a little bit of faith, she'll succeed in her weight goals.

"I can send them a smoke signal or any kind of message in any way, and I know that they'll be there to support me," she said.

The Jewish diet being followed at the Synagogue is based on the Christian Daniel Diet -- developed by Dr. Oz and a few of his friends for the Saddleback Church in California. The program was tweaked for the Farmington Hills Jewish population.

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