The Hallelujah Diet is an eating and lifestyle plan based on the following passage from the Bible:

“And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb and bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.” — Genesis 1:29

The idea of following the Hallelujah Diet, which involves eating more “living” foods like raw fruits and vegetables, is to cleanse your body of toxins and become healthier.

How to Follow the Hallelujah Diet

“[The Hallelujah Diet] is a vegan diet, basically,” says Andrea Giancoli, MPH, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

The Hallelujah Diet suggests that 85 percent of your diet should consist of “living” foods, which include:

  • Fresh vegetable juices
  • Dairy alternatives like almond milk and banana milk
  • Organic fresh or dried fruit, though this is limited to 15 percent of daily intake
  • Uncooked whole grains, such as soaked oats and ground flax seed
  • Raw beans and peas
  • Raw nuts and seeds, eaten sparingly because of their high calorie count
  • Oils, including extra-virgin olive oil and flax oil
  • Fresh herbs and seasonings
  • Raw vegetables

The other 15 percent of your diet can consist of certain cooked foods, such as:

  • Stewed fruit
  • Whole-grain breads, cereals, and pastas
  • Cooked beans
  • Homemade vegan soups
  • Steamed or stir-fried vegetables
  • Herbal teas
  • Non-dairy cheeses and milks

The following foods are strictly avoided on the Hallelujah Diet:

  • Alcohol, coffee, tea, cocoa, and carbonated drinks
  • Animal products, including meat, fish, and dairy
  • Processed foods, including canned fruits or vegetables, refined grains, and hydrogenated oils
  • Roasted or salted nuts or seeds
  • Salt and pepper

Supplements, including barley powder at every meal, are encouraged by the Hallelujah Diet and sold on its Web site. During a typical day on the Hallelujah Diet, you might eat barley powder for breakfast, vegetable juice for snacks, some more barley powder along with raw fruit or vegetables for lunch, and more barley powder, a large salad, and a baked potato or brown rice for dinner.

Hallelujah Diet: Pros and Cons

This diet does provide food that is nutritious, but as a whole, according to some experts, it is unbalanced and can be harmful if not supplemented with anything else.

“This diet seems incredibly restrictive in calories and nutrients,” says Maria Adams, MS, MPH, RD, a registered dietitian in Marblehead, Mass. “A typical day would probably come in below 1,000 calories, which is not enough energy to sustain even the most inactive and smallest of people.” Adams adds that people who are following the Hallelujah Diet are consuming far too little protein, too.

“When the body doesn’t get the calories it needs to run as it should, it goes into starvation mode, slowing metabolism and breaking down muscle and fat for energy,” Adams says, noting that bad breath, a lack of energy, and loss of menses (in women) are other adverse effects you may experience if you try the Hallelujah Diet.

“A vegan diet, if planned properly, can meet your nutrient needs,” says Giancoli. “We want people to be consuming a diet that is based on plant foods more than animal foods, but [the Hallelujah Diet] is going to an extreme. There are some good recommendations here, but it’s unbalanced, lacking in a lot of food, and very restrictive.”

While there is little doubt that you would lose weight on the Hallelujah Diet, since you eat bulky foods that are low in calories, following the rules and restrictions of the Hallelujah Diet could cause you to become dangerously deficient in many essential nutrients, including vitamins B12 and D, zinc, and iron.

“A diet low in zinc and iron can suppress the immune system, making it harder for the body to fight infection,” says Adams. Taking a daily multivitamin is essential when following the Hallelujah Diet, and dieters need to make sure to consume milk alternatives to meet their vitamin D requirements.

“Overall, the extreme rigidness of this diet makes it a plan that would be difficult to follow over the long run,” says Adams. “Food serves the purpose of providing us with energy and nutrients, but also providing us with pleasure, something that is also restricted on this plan.”

Adding fruits and vegetables to your diet is a great idea, but rather than following a diet like the Hallelujah Diet, a better bet is to see a registered dietitian, who can help you develop a healthy, balanced eating plan.