Diet

What is the Bible-Based ‘Daniel Fast’ — And Is It Healthy?

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Fans of superhero hunk Chris Pratt might remember the actor sharing his Daniel Fast journey earlier this year. “It’s 21 days of prayer and fasting,” he explained in an Instagram story — but that only touches the surface of this spiritual meal plan. 

As the name suggests, the Daniel Fast is inspired by the book of Daniel found in the Old Testament of the Bible in which Daniel eats “no pleasant food, no meat, or wine… nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink.” Like other religious fasts, those participating are meant to focus on their spirituality rather than earthly indulgences. 

Although it’s called a “fast,” it doesn’t eliminate all food, limit the amount of calories, or even restrict you to eating at certain times of the day. Instead, it’s essentially a vegan diet with a few extra rules and restrictions. “Followers of the diet eliminate animal products, caffeine, and alcohol and focus on plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds,” Susan Gregory, author of The Daniel Fast for Weight Loss: A Biblical Approach to Losing Weight and Keeping It Off ($13.08, Amazon), explains on her website

The most strict aspect of the fast is that participants are only allowed to drink water. Even herbal teas and sweeteners like honey are considered too “precious” for the desired spiritual connection. That said, those following this plan at least won’t have to worry about feeling hungry throughout the process. “Eating no more than three moderate meals and two small snacks would be appropriate,” Gregory claims. She even lists allowances for “pausing” the fast when necessary, as she did once while visiting her son: 

“Last year when I was fasting, I visited my son and his wife who live about 120 miles from me. My son is adopted from Ethiopia and three years ago he returned to Ethiopia and while there married a lovely woman. During my visit, she had prepared a very special Ethiopian meal for me (parents are very honored in Ethiopia) with lamb. I quickly consulted the Holy Spirit who showed me the way of love for her would be for me to pause my fast.”

Gregory continued to say she “felt the freedom” to enjoy the meal, which was followed by a coffee ceremony, and then pick the fast back up on the next day. “It was the loving thing to do.”

The fast is also backed up by a 2010 study that found participants who modified their diet for the 21-day period, though they had a hard time tolerating it, had improved health risk factors for things like metabolic and cardiovascular disease

If you’re looking for something to help you feel both healthier and more connected to your faith, the Daniel Fast might be the perfect option. Be sure to check with your doctor before drastically changing your eating habits, though. There’s a good chance you’ll be given the thumbs up for this hearty and spiritual plant-based diet.

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