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Daniel Fast: Benefits for Your Spiritual, Emotional and Physical Health

By

Daniel fast - Dr. Axe

I want to introduce you to a secret healing therapy that can take your spiritual, physical and emotional health to a whole new level — it’s called the Daniel Fast, and it includes many Bible foods that support healing.

Fasting is a natural discipline that can bring supernatural results. I’ve seen fasting work when nothing else will. Moses, Elijah, Esther, Ezra, Job, David, Daniel, Peter, Paul, even Jesus … fasted.

In fact, they didn’t just fast for a day or two, but both Jesus and Moses fasted for 40 days! The Bible is filled with more than 70 references to fasting, but over the last several decades fasting has disappeared from the church and is only beginning to make a resurgence today.

You may have even seen Daniel Fast 2019 headlines as a recent Chris Pratt diet was in fact the Daniel Diet.

What is a fast? Fasting is abstaining from something like food, drink or entertainment for a period of time to create some type of benefit in body, mind or spirit.

There are many types of fasts, including: a standard fast (water only); an absolute Fast (no water or food); a partial fast (restrict certain food and drink categories); or an intermittent fast (only eating during a small daily window, for example: 1 p.m.–6 p.m.).

If you are looking for a healing breakthrough in body, mind and spirit, then you should keep reading and find out how to do the Daniel Fast.

What Is the Daniel Fast?

Many people wonder what did Jesus eat? Did Jesus eat meat?

The Daniel Fast isn’t based on what Jesus ate, but it is based upon what one of Jesus’ followers consumed and this follower was not surprisingly Daniel.

The Daniel Fast or Daniel Diet is based upon the prophet Daniel’s dietary and spiritual experiences as recorded in the Book of Daniel in the Bible. It’s a type of partial fast that focuses very heavily on vegetables and other healthy whole foods but leaves out any animal sources of protein.

Many users of this Biblically based fasting method follow it for 21 consecutive days.

Looking for Daniel Fast scripture readings? The Daniel Fast is specifically referenced in the Bible in two sections of the Book of Daniel:

  • Daniel 1:12, which states, “Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables [pulses] to eat and water to drink.”
  • Daniel 10: 2-3, which says, “In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.”

You may be familiar with the Daniel Fast already if you’ve read The Maker’s Diet Revolution by Jordan Rubin. The Daniel Fast only includes clean foods as described in Leviticus 11.

Unclean foods in the Bible include things like pork and shellfish.

So does the Bible say not to eat shrimp? Actually, it does in Deuteronomy 14:10 where it states “And whatever does not have fins and scales you shall not eat; it is unclean for you.”

Shrimp is a type of shellfish and as such it does not contain fins or scales.

There are also some fish, such as swordfish and shark, that should also be avoided if you’re following a Biblical diet because these sea creatures do not have both fins and scales. For more info on a Bible diet, check out the infographic: Which Animals Does the Bible Designate as ‘Clean’ and ‘Unclean’?

Knowing clean and unclean animal proteins according to dietary laws in the Bible is helpful to know, but while on the Daniel Fast you won’t be consuming any protein from animal sources at all.

Daniel Fast Menu

According to our understanding of the Hebrew definition of “pulse” that was used in the verse for vegetables can actually mean a range of foods. Here is the Daniel Fast food list of what you are allowed to eat, aka your eating plan.

Consider it a stricter version of a vegan diet yet overall plant-based.

Beverages

Vegetables (should form the basis of the diet)

  • Fresh or cooked
  • May be frozen and cooked but not canned

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 or sweeteners
  • May be frozen but not canned

Whole grains (consume in moderation and ideally sprouted)

  • Brown rice, oats quinoa, millet, amaranth, buckwheat, barley cooked in water

Beans and Legumes (consume in moderation)

  • Dried and cooked in water
  • May be consumed from can as long as no salt or other additives are contained and the only ingredients are legumes or beans and water

Nuts and Seeds (sprouted are best)

  • Raw, sprouted or dry roasted with no salt added

Related: Ezekiel Bread: Superfood or Gluten Trap?

Common Foods

Here is a list of some common foods you can consume on their own or include in Daniel Fast recipes:

Vegetables (preferably organic and fresh or frozen)

  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Collard greens
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Green beans
  • Kale
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce
  • Mushrooms
  • Mustard greens
  • Okra
  • Onions
  • Peppers
  • Potatoes
  • Radishes
  • Rutabagas
  • Scallions
  • Spinach
  • Sprouts
  • Squash
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Turnips
  • Yams
  • Zucchini

Fruits (preferably organic and fresh or frozen)

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cherries
  • Coconuts
  • Cranberries
  • Dates
  • Figs
  • Grapefruit
  • Grapes
  • Guava
  • Honeydew melons
  • Kiwi
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Mangoes
  • Melons
  • Nectarines
  • Oranges
  • Papayas
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Pineapples
  • Plums
  • Prunes
  • Raisins
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Tangerines
  • Watermelon

Legumes (preferably organic)

  • Black beans
  • Black-eyed peas
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Lentils
  • Mung beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Split peas

Nuts and Seeds (preferably organic, raw, unsalted and soaked/sprouted)

Whole Grains (preferable organic)

  • Amaranth
  • Barley
  • Brown rice
  • Millet
  • Quinoa
  • Oats (groats soaked)

Liquids

  • Water (spring, distilled, filtered)
  • Vegetable juice (fresh pressed)
  • Coconut milk
  • Coconut kefir
  • Almond milk

Foods to Avoid

On the Daniel Fast, you should not consume any of the other foods or beverages listed below. And, I want to mention that some allow sea salt or Himalayan salt and others do not.

My recommendation is to only use a bit of sea salt when necessary in flavoring dishes. Here are foods you definitely want to refrain from eating:

  • Iodized salt
  • Sweeteners
  • Meat, including shellfish
  • Dairy products
  • Processed foods
  • Breads, pasta, flour, crackers (unless made from sprouted ancient grains)
  • Cookies and other baked goods
  • Oils
  • Juices
  • Coffee
  • Energy drinks
  • Gum
  • Mints
  • Candy

NOTE: Nutritional supplements are optional. If any are taken while on the fast then they would preferably be in line with the accepted foods/ingredients that are listed.

Daniel Fast Diet

Potential Benefits

When you fast and pray — two words that go hand-in-hand in scripture — you pursue God in your life and open yourself up to experiencing a renewed dependence on God, but it isn’t easy. It is a spiritual discipline that requires denying your physical and mental self because your stomach and your brain will most likely work overtime to remind you when and what they want to eat!

As I mentioned earlier, Daniel wasn’t the only one in the Bible who fasted. There were others, but you don’t have to be a “spiritual giant” like Daniel or put yourself through torturous fasts to draw closer to God.

However, fasts can help focus your spirit, heart and mind on God and not your own eating and drinking desires.

In fact, before you begin your fast, you can make a list of prayer requests you are asking God to answer. Then, every time you experience hunger pangs or food or drink cravings, ask God to work in your Daniel Fast prayer request areas.

How can a Daniel Diet benefit you physically?

During a fast, many systems of the body are given a break from the hard work of digesting foods that it normally has to manage. The extra energy the body gains gives the body a chance to restore itself, while the burning of stored calories gets rid of toxic substances stored in the body.

Here’s another example.

The digestive tract is the body area most exposed to environmental threats, including bacteria, viruses, parasites and toxins. Plus, most of your immune system is in your digestive tract, so it needs to be in top shape.

When food is broken down in the intestines, it travels through the blood to the liver, the largest organ of the body’s natural detoxification system.

The liver breaks down and removes the toxic byproducts produced by digestion, including natural ones and the chemicals which are typically present in our food supply and often on our daily menus. During a fast, the liver and immune system are essentially freed up to detoxify and heal other parts of the body.

Some of the potential benefits of a Daniel diet can be broken down into three categories: spiritual; mental and emotional; and physical.

Spiritual Benefits

Spiritual growth is a top reason for fasting and may include:

  • Fasting brings you closer to God
  • Fasting makes you more sensitive to God’s voice
  • Fasting helps break bad habits or even addictions
  • Fasting shows us our weakness and allows us to rely on God’s strength

Mental and Emotional Benefits

Fasting benefits are different from person to person, but the following have been known to occur:

  • Fasting relieves anxiety and nervousness
  • Fasting can increase peace and shalom
  • Fasting clears your mind of negative thoughts and feelings
  • Fasting can help heal relationships in your life that have been stressful
  • Fasting decreases brain fog
  • Fasting helps increase your ability to trust God
  • Fasting clears out toxins that can make you feel sluggish or depressed

Physical Benefits

Some benefits to the physical body have been known to include:

  • Fasting helps break addictions to sugar
  • Fasting supports the body’s detoxification
  • Fasting one lose weight
  • Fasting promoted healthy energy levels
  • Fasting improves skin health
  • Fasting promotes healthy digestion and elimination
  • Fasting supports healthy inflammation response and promotes joint comfort
  • Fasting promotes healthy hormonal balance

Now let’s talk specifically about the elements of the Daniel Fast, including vegetables, fruits and water. The dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in vegetables and fruits help to add vibrancy to your health.

A diet high in vegetables and fruits is known for halting bodily inflammation and oxidation — two primary processes that can lead to ill health. No wonder Daniel and his friends looked better than the others!

Recipes

While most fruits and vegetables are edible as is, sometimes it’s nice to have recipe ideas. The Daniel Fast recipes below can help to get you started on this new way of eating today!

Granola (perfect for a Daniel fast breakfast)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup crushed almonds
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Mix all together and spread out on a non-stick cookie sheet.
  2. Bake 20 minutes in a 250-degree preheated oven.
  3. Stir and continue to bake another 20 minutes, stirring periodically to prevent burning. The granola should be lightly browned.
  4. Remove from oven and serve warm or cool thoroughly and store in tightly sealed container or plastic bags.
  5. Option: After the granola is cooled, add raisins or other organic, unsulphured dehydrated fruit.

Minestrone Soup

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups vegetable stock
  • 1½ cups of dried garbanzo beans
  • 2 cups dried red kidney beans
  • ½ cup carrots
  • 3 medium tomatoes (or one 14-ounce can of unsweetened, unsalted Italian tomatoes)
  • ½ cup fresh parsley
  • 1 cup cabbage
  • ¼ teaspoon oregano
  • ¾ teaspoon basil
  • ¼ teaspoon thyme
  • ½ cup celery
  • ½ cup onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 package spinach noodles, cooked
  • sea salt, to taste

Directions:

  1. Soak garbanzo and kidney beans overnight, drain and rinse.
  2. Peel and dice tomatoes.
  3. Cook and drain garbanzo and kidney beans as per directions on package.
  4. Mince garlic and parsley.
  5. Chop carrots, onion, celery, cabbage and garlic and sauté in water or soup stock over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes.
  6. Stir in cooked and drained garbanzo beans, kidney beans, diced tomatoes and minced herbs.
  7. Bring to a simmer, then turn heat down and simmer 10 minutes.
  8. Stir in cabbage and parsley with lid partially on for about 15 minutes or until cabbage is tender.
  9. Add more soup stock or tomatoes as needed. Serve over cooked spinach noodles.

Black Bean Soup

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup celery
  • 1 potato
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 pound of black beans, soaked overnight, rinsed and drained
  • 1 yellow or red pepper
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • 2 tablespoons marjoram
  • 1 whole onion
  • sea salt, to taste

Directions:

  1. Place beans in pot with vegetable stock, whole onion and bay leaves.
  2. Bring to a boil and cook 2-½ hours or until beans are tender.
  3. Remove onion and bay leaves.
  4. Chop onion, pepper and celery.
  5. Grate carrots and potato on cheese grater.
  6. Mince garlic and sauté in a tablespoon of olive oil until tender.
  7. During last hour of cooking, combine vegetables and seasonings with beans.
  8. Bring to a boil, lower heat to simmer and cook until veggies and beans are tender.

Stir-Fry Vegetables

Ingredients:

  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup broccoli, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • ½ cup cauliflower, chopped
  • 1 cup zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup yellow squash, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon Asian seasoning (or a mix of garlic powder, onion powder, ginger powder and black pepper)

Directions:

  1. Stir-fry all vegetables in 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil until tender.
  2. Add salt and seasoning.
  3. Serve alone or over brown rice.

Harira

[Serves 4] (Note: Harira is a great recipe for the Daniel Fast as it has nearly 15 grams of protein per serving.)

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons healthy oil, such as coconut oil or olive oil
  • 1 cups chopped onion
  • ½ cups chopped celery
  • 2 cups warm water
  • pinch of saffron threads
  • ½ teaspoon salt, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon peeled fresh ginger, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon ground red pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups organic mushroom broth
  • 1½ cups chopped and seeded plum tomatoes
  • ½ cup dried small red lentils
  • 2 15-ounce cans no-salt-added chickpeas, drained
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan on medium heat.
  2. Add onion and celery and sauté 4 minutes or until tender.
  3. Combine 2 cups warm water and saffron; let stand 2 minutes.
  4. Add ¼ teaspoon salt, ginger, red pepper, cinnamon and garlic.
  5. Cook 1 minute. Add saffron water mixture, broth, tomato, lentils and chickpeas.
  6. Bring to boil; then reduce heat.
  7. Simmer 20 minutes or until lentils are tender.
  8. Stir in cilantro, parsley and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt.

Should You Try It? FAQs

First off, if you are pregnant or a nursing mother or are on a special diet of any sort for health reasons, then you should not go on the Daniel Fast without the approval of your primary health care professional.

Otherwise, here are some frequently asked questions you may want to know about.

1. What about prepared foods?

Read the labels of all prepared foods. Remember the Daniel Fast is sugar-free and chemical-free.

That is why I suggest organic, fresh or frozen foods for use in Daniel Fast recipes.

2. What about pasta?

Make sure the label says whole grain or vegetable-based pasta like quinoa, black bean or brown rice with no additives or sugar. But, the diet should consist mostly of vegetables and fruits.

3. What about roasted nuts?

Try to stick to organic, raw, unsalted nuts and/or soaked or sprouted ones. These are harder to find, so if you have to choose roasted nuts, then get plain roasted, unsalted nuts with no preservatives.

4. How do I get enough protein in my diet while on the fast?

Protein-rich foods allowed on the Daniel Fast are almonds, sunflower seeds, lentils, quinoa, brown rice, split peas and some whole grains. Be sure to include plenty of these protein-rich items in Daniel Fast recipes.

5. What about salad dressing?

Salads are great on the Daniel Fast. You can use olive oil combined with lemon or lime juice as salad dressing options.

6. Do I need to eat organic foods while on the fast?

You don’t have to eat organic, but I recommend it because opting for organic keeps toxins out of your foods, meaning no use of chemically formulated fertilizers, growth stimulants, antibiotics or pesticides.

7. Can I go out to eat?

Yes, you can. Just make sure what you get is compliant with the Daniel Fast, such as a salad with olive oil and a baked potato with no extras on it.

8. What about bread?

If you eat bread, then I would only recommend a sprouted or sourdough bread that comes from ancient grains.

9. How much can I eat?

As long as your food choices fit the Daniel Fast, then you can eat all and as often as you want until you are satisfied!

Risks and Side Effects

Check with your doctor before following a fasting diet plan, especially if you have a medical condition such as diabetes, or you are pregnant or nursing.

A fast diet is not typically recommended for pregnant or nursing women.

Final Thoughts

  • What is the Daniel Fast? It’s a partial fast based upon the prophet Daniel’s dietary and spiritual experiences as recorded in the Book of Daniel in the Bible.
  • Daniel Fast foods include delicious whole foods with a big focus on nutrient-rich vegetables and an avoidance of animal-derived protein.
  • Daniel Fast recipes are typically simple yet filled with wholesome flavor so it can truly be an enjoyable temporary way of eating.
  • The Daniel Fast is typically followed for 21 days and is combined with prayer. It’s not hard to find a Daniel Fast prayer guide online if you’re looking for ideas for the spiritual side of your fast.
  • While following the Daniel Diet, I recommend spending quiet time with God each day, reading passages of scripture from the Bible and journaling so that you can write down what you believe God is directing you in.
  • After a fast, including the Daniel Fast, many people report a combination of spiritual, physical and mental benefits, including a closer relationship with God, answered prayers, a better state of health, freedom from food or beverage addictions, more energy, clearer thinking, a more positive attitude, feeling lighter and much more.
Josh Axe

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