Sunday, January 8, 2012

21-Day Daniel Fast

For the last three years each January I have done a 21-day Daniel Fast. I love it.

What is a Daniel Fast? Well, it's eating what Daniel from the Bible ate and not eating what he didn't eat.

The Daniel Fast is based on two passages of scripture from the book of Daniel chapters 1 and 10:
1. Only fruits and vegetables (including whole grains, nuts and seeds---think "things that grow")
2. Only water for a beverage (feel free to add a sqeeze of lemon/lime or cider vinegar, serve hot or cold)

3. "No meat nor any precious breads or foods or wine for 21 days" (meat = no animal products, including meat, dairy, eggs) ("precious" = treats, like sugar/honey/syrup, desserts, junk food, fried food, baked goods, processed/refined foods)

My husband sums it up with this line (not sure if he thought it up, probably not):

No meats, sweets or treats!

Very simply, it is a vegetarian diet with a few more restrictions.

And it is very, very healthy.

You will feel great on this fast, other than maybe a headache the first few days if you've been drinking a lot of coffee and eating a lot of sugar before starting.

I tend to eat pretty healthy most of the time, so I don't notice a huge change, but I definitely feel "lighter." I'm not just talking light in weight but also light in step, more energetic and bright.

For my husband, a heavy coffee drinker, couch potato and lover of sleep, we are the ones who notice the change! He is less grumpy, more awake, gets up earlier in the morning, doesn't fall asleep on the couch in the early evening, and his breath is better! He complains all the way through the fast..."What?! We're eating that?!?" But then he always says with great surprise after the meal, "That was good!" And he would agree he also feels lighter and more energetic.

So that's the answer to "What," and now "Why?" is the next question.

Fasting is a Biblical principle that reaps a very great reward when it is coupled with a time of prayer. Fasting by itself is simply a stringent diet, good for the body but not much else. Fasting and prayer, however, is of great benefit to the whole person...body, soul and spirit.

- Body - I already mentioned how it makes me feel, but there is more than actually cleanses the system from toxins, lowers blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol, sheds pounds, hydrates cells, clears the skin, pinkens the tongue, brightens mood, increases energy, and makes sleep more refreshing.
- Soul - Fasting is a discipline. During a fast I am more focused as I exercise self-control. It's good for us to master our desires rather than allowing our desires to master us. I have no problem with really craving something sweet, rich and yummy and then giving in to that craving and savoring every bite...every once in awhile! But I know that the more we indulge ourselves the more we crave indulgence. It is good self-discipline to tell ourselves no. And it's not just good for us, but it makes us more aware of others because we aren't so busy feeding ourselves!
- Spirit - Of course, this is the greatest benefit of all and the main reason we fast. When we deny the pleasures of the flesh and focus on the Spirit, we become infinitely more sensitive to and aware of God's power and presence in our lives. We are aligned, refueled, directed and re-dedicated to His purposes. Our prayers have more spiritual "umph." Our attitudes are adjusted. Our faith is super-charged!

And now, of course, is the big question, "How?" How do you do a Daniel Fast? Eat carrot sticks and apples every day? Drink "green drink?"

I'm going to answer the how of a Daniel Fast for the next three weeks here in my blog. I'm going to give you menu and meal ideas, with lots of pictures and recipes, and information on where and what to buy. If you start your fast after I do, then you can use this blog as a guide to doing your own fast.

Don't be intimidated...I encourage you to try this, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

All you need to do today is go grocery shopping. You need to shop a little differently...go when you have time to linger a bit and look over foods that you normally might not even notice. You'll only have to go to two departments: Fresh Produce and the Health Food sections (and a quick stop in the canned food aisle for canned tomatoes and tomato paste and beans, if you prefer canned beans to soaking and cooking your own).

We'll start off simple, adjusting foods you are already very familiar with so you don't feel overwhelmed. Your first day will include a super-easy breakfast, a light and healthy lunch, and a truly delicious vegetarian chili that will fill you up. Don't be scared of the word "vegetarian!"

Okay, here's your grocery list. Tomorrow we begin!

apples, oranges, berries, kiwi, bananas, pomegranate, mango
romaine lettuce, kale, spinach, cilantro, onion, green onion, asparagus, zucchini, yellow pepper, tomatoes, carrots, celery, sugar snap peas, avocado, squash, sweet potato, broccoli, cauliflower, garlic, edamame beans
old-fashioned oats (not quick or instant), sprouted brown rice, sprouted tortillas, sprouted bread, quinoa, polenta, cous-cous (whole grain)
Nuts and Dried Fruit:
almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, pistachios, almond-butter, raisins, craisins, cherries, apricots, dates (your favorites)
Ground flax (not whole), chia, sunflower
White beans, black beans, kidney beans, hummus
Soy: (Non-GMO only)
tofu, soy milk
Canned goods:
whole tomatoes, tomato paste, coconut milk, beans (if you prefer canned to dry)
Filtered water (if you don’t have a purification system at home), apple cider vinegar (Bragg’s is best), "raw" energy bars, corn tortilla chips (organic, non-GMO)


  1. Karyn

    I hope you are feeling better. Did you look into things a little more?
    Looks great, and when your kids were younger like ours, Did you guys fast? What did you do with the kids in regards to meals?


    1. Hey, Alana! There is a study bundle for the Daniel Plan that includes a DVD and a study guide. It's a 6-week course. Would Tuesday nights work for you? The format I'm thinking of would be cooking a meal together in the church kitchen, eating our meal while we watch the DVD and then doing the study questions together as a group. What do you think? If we can gather enough people to form a good group, I'd like to start next week. As for kids and fasting, I just served the kids what we ate but threw in meat and dairy. In fact, one of the pictures on my blog actually shows sausage mixed in with the veggies in the skillet. It's not like doing a juice fast where there is no cooking involved. Because the meals are pretty complete, it's easy to just add meat for your kids without a lot of extra work for you.

    2. That works for Matt and I as well. What time? Do we know how many would be interested?

  2. Just found your blog after doing a search for how to start a plant based diet. I'm so excited to start my new year off with a refreshing of my mind, body and soul. Thank you for taking the time to put this all together :-)

    1. Thanks, Felisha! I'm actually in the process of updating my blog and having it printed into booklet form. I'd welcome any feedback you have as you go through it.

  3. Is it ok to ezekial Bread?

    1. Yes, Ezekiel bread is sprouted grains and seeds instead of flour and no sugar!