At the beginning of each year, people from different religions go on the Daniel Fast for spiritual guidance, to strengthen their faith in God, increase their humility, and for many other spiritual purposes. The Daniel Fast is a partial fast meaning that the individual is allowed to eat but is restricted to certain foods. For those who go on this fast for religious purposes, the focus is not on food but on reading the Bible and praying at least three times daily - morning, noon, and evening. An example of the Daniel Fast is found in Daniel chapter10 verses 2-3, "Daniel fasted for three weeks (21 days) and ate no pleasant food, no meat nor wine, he put in his mouth."
Benefits of Fasting
There are many different benefits to fasting. For one, it may improve insulin levels by promoting better blood sugar management which will result in lowering hemoglobin A1C. It also helps with minimizing the use of diabetes medications, and may aid in remission of type 2 diabetes (1). It is also effective for the treatment of overweight and obesity (2). Intermittent fasting might reduce the severity of rheumatoid arthritis (3). In addition, fasting may also aid in the improvement of heart health such as high blood pressure, triglyceride, and cholesterol levels (4). There are many other benefits of fasting, too much to mention at this time.
It is best to consult with your doctor before starting a fast. It is imperative for those with type two diabetes to seek medical advice or talk with a nutritionist or diabetes specialist before starting a fast. The fast is not recommended for those with Type one diabetes or those with gestational diabetes. Fasting without medical supervision is also not recommended for the elderly, adolescents and, those who are underweight (BMI <18.5). It is important to stay hydrated! Try to drink at least half of your body weight in ounces of water. For example, if you weigh 100 pounds you should drink 50 ounces of water or 6.25 cups. To determine if you are drinking enough water, you should check the color of your urine. If your urine is dark, this might mean you are dehydrated. If you are well hydrated your urine should be almost colorless to light yellow.
What do I eat and not eat?
There are variations to applying the Daniel Fast. For example, one can eat 3 meals per day or fast 1 or 2 meals for the day. Whichever way that the fast is done, do not overeat! It is easy to consume 1000-1200 calories in one meal. Consider using the Vegan Portion Plate to monitor your intake. The vegan portion plate plan encourages that half of your plate should be non-starchy vegetables, a quarter should be plant-based protein and the other quarter whole grains. Please use the infographic guideline on the Daniel Fast Guidelines to assist with making the best choices of food to maintain your fast.
The Daniel Fast is beneficial both spiritually and physically, whatever the reason for this fast the benefits outweigh the risks. The fast could be a way of jumpstarting your lifestyle for the positive. Take this time to maybe continue with some of the healthier options like eliminating fried food, red meat, sugary beverages, and processed foods.