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Updated: Mar 7

The Daniel Fast is a type of spiritual fasting that has become more popular for its combined focus on physical health and spiritual growth. It is a Biblically based way to change the focus for a daily need, such as food, to Christ. This involves a specific dietary regimen inspired by the experiences of Daniel, as described in the Bible. In the book of Daniel, the prophet and his friends abstained from select foods and wine; they instead chose a simple diet for 21 days. In this fasting God granted Daniel’s prayers, showed that there is only one true God, and saved him and his friends lives. No matter the reason someone is considering going on the Daniel Fast, it should always be driven by a desire to glorify God and grow closer to Him. The fast typically excludes certain food groups, leavened bread, added sugar, processed foods, and alcohol. People on this fast focus on consuming whole, plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds. The primary drink is water. You’re allowed to consume approved foods until you’re satisfied, and you are not required to restrict calories. Many churches do the Daniel Fast at the beginning of the new year, as a congregation. The Daniel Fast can be a good way to start fasting for people who have never tried it before. In this blog post, we will delve into the substance, guidelines, potential benefits, and challenges of the Daniel Fast.

What is fasting in the biblical sense? Fasting is basically giving up a particular thing as a sacrifice, such as a type of food, no social media, or something else, for a period of time to focus your thoughts on God. When you fast, it is customary to worship, pray and read the Word of God. Fasting is found throughout the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, many times. In each situation, the Bible encourages believers to connect with and grow closer to God. This will put you in the best posture to lean more on the Holy Spirit. This demonstrates the scripture that man does not live by bread alone (Deuteronomy 8:3).

Guidelines for the Daniel Fast:

  1. Plant-Based Whole Foods: The core of the Daniel Fast revolves around plant-based, whole foods. People are encouraged to consume a variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds.

  2. Hydration: Water is emphasized during the Daniel Fast. It is essential to stay hydrated, and People may choose to drink water, herbal teas, and natural fruit juices.

  3. Exclusion of Certain Foods: Those on the fast avoid meat, dairy, sweeteners, leavened bread, and processed foods during the fast. The focus is on simplicity and reliance on the natural goodness of plant-based foods.

Foods to eat – approved foods (source

  • Beans and lentils. All types are permitted.

  • Nuts and seeds. All types are permitted, except those with added salt.

  • Fruits and vegetables. All types are permitted.

  • Oils and fats. Only vegetable oils are allowed, and only in small amounts, such as to sauté vegetables. Olive, avocado, peanut, coconut, grapeseed, canola, walnut, and sesame oil are all approved oils. [I use small amounts of olive oil and balsamic vinegar with garlic, salt and pepper to make salad dressing/vinaigrette]

  • Whole grains. Amaranth, barley, brown rice, buckwheat, bulgur, freekeh, millet, oats, plain popcorn, quinoa, rye, sorghum, spelt, teff, whole grain pasta, whole wheat, and wild rice are approved.

  • Unleavened bread. Whole grain breads and flatbreads made without yeast, sugars, or preservatives are permitted.

  • Herbs and spices. All fresh and dried herbs and spices are permitted and encouraged as flavor enhancers, though salt should be used sparingly.

  • Beverages. Water should be your main beverage. Unsweetened plant beverages such as 100% fruit juice are permitted in small amounts.

  • Vitamins and supplements. All are permitted as needed. If you use protein powders, they should be minimally processed and meet the diet’s guidelines. [I recommend that you speak with your medical professional regarding your specific health needs, such as protein intake, before stating the fast.]

Foods to avoid (source

  • Meat, poultry, fish, and eggs. Animal products are not permitted.

  • Dairy products. All dairy should be avoided, including milk, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream. [Nut and plant-based milk like soy, almond or oat milk are acceptable.]

  • Added sugar and artificial sweeteners. Table sugar, agave nectar, artificial sweeteners, brown rice syrup, brown sugar, cane juice, corn syrup, honey, malt syrup, molasses, raw sugar, and similar products should be avoided.

  • Yeast. Yeast and leavened bread products are not permitted.

  • Refined grains. White flour and white rice are not permitted. [I use almond flour and brown rice.] Processed foods. Any food that is heavily processed or contains added colors, flavors, or preservatives should be avoided. Processed foods include chips, candy, chocolate, premade meals, takeout, granola bars, and more.

  • Solid fats. Butter, ghee, lard, margarine, and shortening should be avoided.

  • Certain beverages. Alcohol, coffee, tea, kombucha, soda, and sugar-sweetened beverages should be avoided. [I switched to mushroom coffee for additional health benefits.]

There are no calorie restrictions. Eat until satisfied, in moderation.

Spiritual Benefits:

  1. Spiritual Discipline: The Daniel Fast serves as a spiritual discipline of sacrifice to enhance your personal relationship with God. People use the time of fasting to draw closer to their faith, seeking spiritual growth, clarity, maybe a specific prayer request, and a stronger connection with God.

  2. Reflection and Meditation: The simplicity of the fast allows individuals to dedicate more time to prayer, meditation, and reflection. This focused time can lead to a deeper understanding of yourself and your spiritual journey.

  3. Discernment and Self-Control: By abstaining from certain foods, people develop self-discipline and control over their desires. This practice can extend beyond the fast, influencing healthier lifestyle choices.

Many individuals who have undertaken the Daniel Fast report transformative experiences, both spiritually and physically. They often speak of a heightened sense of mental clarity, increased energy levels, and a deeper connection to their faith. Personal testimonials highlight the diverse ways in which people find meaning and purpose through the discipline of the fast. Some testimonies of people who did the Daniel Fast for 21 days include how God moved in their life with miraculous outcomes. For example, one person shared on YouTube how God gave her a job without applying after she completed the 21-day Daniel Fast. You can search YouTube for Daniel Fast testimonies for many stories of blessings. There are testimonials on and from believers who completed the fast, such as one person received an internship and a job opportunity, another lost 15 pounds, and a third experienced financial blessings. You can find shared testimonies from thousands of women and men of faith who joined in extended prayer and fasting with tremendous results. People experienced God in their lives in new and more profound ways - favor was granted, jobs were provided, people received healing, marriages were restored, and family members were saved. These testimonies are inspiring and give encouragement and hope as you consider doing the Daniel Fast.

Physical Benefits:

  1. Detoxification: The emphasis on whole, plant-based foods supports the body's natural detoxification processes. A break from processed and potentially inflammatory foods can promote a healthier gut and overall well-being. I have always had issues with internal inflammation, so this is particularly helpful for me.

  2. Weight Management: The Daniel Fast often results in weight loss due to the exclusion of calorie-dense and processed foods. Combined with a focus on nutrient-dense options, those on the fast may experience improved weight management. On my first try of the Daniel Fast I lost 5 pounds in the first seven days! Of course, individual results will vary.

  3. Increased Energy: Consuming plant-based foods can provide sustained energy levels throughout the day. People may report feeling more energized and alert during the fast.

Challenges and Considerations:

While the Daniel Fast can bring about numerous benefits, it's important to acknowledge the challenges and considerations associated with this kind of change in your diet.

  1. Nutrient Balance: As with any restrictive diet, maintaining a proper balance of nutrients can be a concern. People need to be mindful of obtaining an adequate intake of protein, vitamins, and minerals from plant-based sources. I talk with my medical professionals before starting the fast. They gave specifics for me regarding protein needs, medication interactions, and digestive adjustments to keep my health goals on target. For example, based on my medical needs I have to add eggs to my fast.

  2. Social Implications: Engaging in the Daniel Fast may present social challenges, especially in situations where communal meals are involved. Clear communication and planning can help navigate social gatherings without compromising the commitment to the fast. At sorority potlucks we have a vegan sister. We make it fun by trying different vegan dishes that she shares and get recipes.

  3. Gradual Transition: For those unfamiliar with a plant-based diet, a sudden switch to the Daniel Fast might be challenging. A gradual transition, incorporating more plant-based meals into the diet beforehand, can ease the adjustment.

Tips for Success:

  1. Meal Planning: Planning meals in advance ensures a variety of nutrient-rich foods are included in the diet, making the fast more sustainable and enjoyable. Find recipes that fit your unique tastes. Try new recipes to expand your food story. My favorite everyday recipes during the Daniel Fast are overnight fridge oatmeal, cauliflower alfredo with whole wheat pasta, and soy-based meat alternatives (i.e. morning star, Loma Linda choplets). If you are interested in the recipes I use, leave a comment below and I will share with you.

  2. Community Support: Engaging in the Daniel Fast with a community or support group can provide encouragement, shared experiences, and a sense of accountability. I do the Daniel Fast with other faith-minded friends through YouVersion’s Bible app. I am a YouVersion Influencer. We read the Word and devotions together, share recipes, experiences, and focus on our spiritual walk with the Lord.

  3. Mindful Eating: Taking time to savor and appreciate each meal fosters a mindful approach to eating, enhancing the overall experience of the fast.

The Daniel Fast offers a holistic approach to well-being by intertwining spiritual and physical principles. This powerful practice transcends basic dietary restrictions and serves as a pathway to nourishment of both body and spirit. People can find themselves on a journey that extends far beyond the 21 days of dietary discipline with profound effects that focus on long-term well-being. This fast encourages a mindful and intentional method to individual physical and spiritual growth. As with any dietary change, it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional before embarking on the Daniel Fast, especially for those with pre-existing health conditions. By embracing the principles of simplicity, discipline, and connection to a God, individuals choosing to journey on the Daniel Fast may discover a profound transformation that extends beyond initial expectations. The Daniel Fast stands out as a unique and spiritually rooted way to nourish the body and soul.

Dr. Quita

The Quitassential Life 🌹 QLife Bible Group

Founder & CEO of Faith Not Sight: A Spiritual Journey

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