How to Do the Daniel Fast from the Bible:
The 21 Day Daniel Fast:
What is a Fast?
- Fasting is not eating any calories, and just consuming water (Wet fast) or no water (Dry fast).
- Consuming calories of any nature, even with restrictions from certain foods, is considered a detox.
- While Spiritually we consider avoiding certain foods for a particular period of time a fast, medically we call it a detox.
The Daniel Fast, medically is referred to as a detox, as you are still consuming calories. Spiritually, however, making a sacrifice either in amount of food, types of food/substance use, social media or otherwise, is Biblically termed a fast, as it requires you to lean into God to get through the moments of discomfort, unease, and anguish, and to take heart to the insights, visions and revelations that come from this physical discipline that creates a spiritual depth.
The most important part of any fast, is prayer. Setting apart time, overcoming distraction, tuning into God, receiving clarity and petitioning yourself to God, is the key for any fast. My favourite time of the year is now when my church gathers at 6am-7am every day for 21 days, to hold a prayer meeting. Here we discipline ourselves to wake up early, and gather and pray aloud, and pray for healing in our city, for revelation of Christ's love, compassion and forgiveness. We pray not for ourselves but to know God and to understand how we can serve Him better. We also spend equally disciplined time reading the word. Doing this in community, is very powerful. Fasting from breads and animal products, coffee and alcohol, is also a discipline as they are so ingrained into our day to day lives.
This article largely considers what foods to eat when it comes to the famous Daniel fast from the Bible. There is room for a lot more discussion on the Spiritual benefits of fasting, and disciplines to be engaging in, which will not be listed here. The Daniel Fast, medically, is a modified fast or a detox that avoids animal sources of protein and eats a lot of vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes. The Daniel Fast is specifically referenced in the Bible in two sections of the Book of Daniel:
The reason we, the church, tend to fast for 21 days comes from Daniel 10:2-3, where Daniel says he “ate no choice food; no meat or wine” for 3 weeks, after learning of a great war that was coming.
This 21-day Modified Fast, when it comes to what to eat, begins with 10 days of just vegetables and water, like Daniel, but since most of us will also be juicing or using smoothies, fruits are often added. It is then followed by 11 days of introduction of fruits, legumes, whole grains, and nuts & seeds.
In other words, this is largely a plant-based diet for the latter half of this fast. However, should you feel that you already eat a mostly pure plant based diet, you can consider eating a more bland, plant-based diet; a more simplified plant-based diet, for the remainder of the 11 days, to challenge yourself. Or you could choose to continue on just vegetables and water. I have had one patient who only eats vegetables and fruit and has been able to maintain all his blood laboratory markers for nutrition and hormone status, although this is not recommended. It just highlights that everyone's nutritional needs are different. Most people will feel the strain of not having adequate protein for 21 days if they are used to eating animal products and do not consume enough protein from the plant-based foods over the remaining 11 days.
If you are currently experiencing issues regulating your blood sugar, get light headed frequently, become ravenously hungry easily, or fall apart when you haven’t eaten after 4 hours (aka hangry), than you should consider making an appointment with your naturopathic doctor prior to doing this fast, to get a modified fast that is custom for you and your hormone requirements. Supplements may be necessary to take during the fast, to sustain your body’s production of hormones, while you still work on the spiritual aspect.
Social Media/ TV/ Other Distractions
Perhaps you medically can't do a detox, need to be working out intensely, or your job requirements mean you cannot do the Daniel fast. A lot of people choose to also fast from social media or TV, conjunctively with the Daniel fast, or in place of it. Remember, the fast isn't scripted. The point of fasting in the Bible is to increase your prayer time, to focus on God.
Activity/ Working Out
During any detox or modified fast, especially the first 10 days of the Daniel Fast, reducing your activity is recommended as your body is not going to be getting the same sustenance to help it recover or get through physical exertion. Choose simple, meditative activities, like walking, jogging and gentle yoga, during this time. Endurance is not a goal for your activity, as it would also require more fuel from your body. Consider light activity of 20-30min.
Please note if you are doing a water fast, for any length of time, all activity and working out is banned. Learn more about how to do a water fast here.
How to Do the Daniel Fast - 21 days
Pre-Fast: Days -3-1
Preparing your body for a fast is key. Begin with eliminating all junk food, refined flours and sugars. Essentially, begin with as close to the second phase of this fast as possible. Go without coffee. While many will think this is not possible, if you can challenge yourself, I would recommend taking a break from this drug. If not, do have your coffee black only. Please note: if you are doing a very restricted modified fast, having coffee can be irritating to your gut lining and stomach, as your body isn't producing its protective mucous layer as much as it would be were you eating harder to break down foods. If you are doing a true fast (water or dry) obviously coffee is not allowed. Read more here.
Phase 1: Days 1-10:
Water only — it must be purified/filtered; spring or ionized water is best
Vegetables: (should form the basis of the diet)
- Fresh or cooked
- May be frozen and cooked but not canned
- Choose ample leafy green veggies, which are the most dense in nutrition: broocoli, brussel sprouts, kale, swiss chard, collard greens, mustard greens, spinach, bok choy, watercress, romaine lettuce, rapini, arugula, etc.
- Choose root vegetables (anything grown underground) for more sustenance and blood sugar regulation: Yams, beets, parsnips, potatoes, turnips, rutabagas, carrots, yuca, kohlrabi, onions, garlic, celery root (or celeriac), horseradish, daikon, turmeric, jicama, Jerusalem artichokes, radishes, and ginger.
Fruits (consume in moderation 1–3 servings daily)
- Fresh and cooked. Ideally low glycemic index fruits like stone fruits, apples, berries, cherries and citrus fruits
- May be dried but should not contains sulfites, added oils, sugar or sweeteners
- May be frozen but not canned
Phase 2: Days 11-21, Foods To Eat List
- Water - filtered water; spring or ionized;
- Homemade almond milk, coconut water, coconut kefir and vegetable juice
- Broths in general are also acceptable. Click here for my favourite 5-Element Vegetable Broth. Click here to learn about making Bone Broth.
Vegetables & Fruits (see above)
Whole grains (consume in moderation and ideally sprouted)
- Brown rice, oats quinoa, millet, amaranth, buckwheat, barley cooked in water
- Beans & Legumes (consume in moderation)
- Dried and cooked in water. May be consumed from can as long as no additives are contained and the only ingredients are beans and water
Nuts & Seeds (sprouted are best)
- Raw, sprouted or dry roasted with no salt added
- Nuts & Seeds (preferably organic, raw, unsalted and soaked/sprouted)
- Chia seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Sunflower seeds
Foods to Avoid:
- Dairy products
- Breads, pasta, flour, crackers (unless made from sprouted ancient grains)
- Cookies and other baked goods
- Energy drinks
Food Re-Introduction After the Fast:
If you're following this version of the Daniel Fast and have avoided all animal products and oils during the fast, your body may have some indigestion when you re-introduce them. During a fast, enzymes to help break down specific foods, are no longer produced if you are not eating those foods, especially animal products. Introducing foods slowly over 1-3 days for this modified 21-day fast, will help your body re-establish these enzymes.
Because of the changes to your digestion, binge eating after any fast, is much worse than any other time. Your body will need time to make adequate digestive enzymes and acids. Binge eating, or eating heavy foods too soon, can result in nausea, cramping, bloating, diarrhea and vomiting.
If you are eating a daily serving of nuts & seeds, in the latter 11 days of the fast, you should have no problem. If you stuck to mostly veggies & fruits, with maybe some grains, you will want to take 1-3 days after this modified fast to re-introduce animal products that are easier to digest, first.
Re-Introduce Foods in this Order:
- fruit and vegetable juices and broths (see this immune boosting veggie broth)
- raw fruits
- yogurt (or other living, cultured milk products), unsweetened
- lettuces and spinach (can use plain yogurt as a dressing and top with fresh fruit)
- cooked vegetables and vegetable soups
- raw vegetables
- well cooked grains and beans
- nuts and eggs
- milk products (non-cultured)
- meats and fish
Many of you will begin at step 8 likely, as you'll be eating a lot of foods listed from steps 1-7 in phase 2 of this fast. When it comes to re-introduction, we are trying to achieve the following:
- Frequent meals --> toward less frequent meals
- Small meals --> toward larger meals
- Easy to digest --> toward harder, requiring more enzymes, to digest
- Less variety --> toward more variety
Benefits of The Daniel Fast
- Become closer to God, Become more sensitive to His voice
- Receive revelations, vision and understanding
- Helps you understand your weaknesses and where you would normally distract yourself, learn how to lean into God for His strength
- We use detoxes, cleanses and other dietary challenges to help people break free from their habits and indulgences, which can often be revealing. Often, when breaking away from typical patterns, and intentionally forming new ones, as well as from the dietary changes allowing your body to detox, people can experience freedom from anxiety, nervousness, depression.
- Consider a medical supervised wet or dry fast for up to 7 days to receive breakthrough from depression and anxiety.
- Other physical benefits include breaking free from sugar addiction, improving energy, improving skin health, digestive health and elimination, reducing pain and inflammation.
What Type of Water to Drink? And How Much Water Should You Be Drinking?
Water is crucial for your body, during a modified fast and at all other times. Every organ system requires water to function. Water helps keep your blood volume up to avoid getting dizzy or lightheaded and to take some pressure off your heart; it helps move your lymphatic system to help eliminate waste and toxins; it keeps your joints lubricated; Water hydrates your skin cells and keeps them plump; and finally water keeps your metabolism moving by hydrating mitochondria and other crucial components of each cell.
I'll be doing it with you, and my church family @c3Toronto starting January 8th - 28th, 2018