The Daniel Fast is a fast–a period of time when a person stops eating either certain foods or all foods and beverages–that many modern Christians and Jews observe as a either a New Year’s tradition or at any time of the year they feel the need to reconsecrate themselves with prayer and a closer attention to their relationship with God. Based on a particular segment of the Bible that relates the life of the prophet Daniel, the Daniel Fast has a specific list of foods that can and cannot be eaten during the fast.
The beginnings of the Daniel Fast come from two separate accounts found in the Book of Daniel, located in the Old Testament of the Bible. The initial account is from the first chapter of Daniel. After Daniel was taken captive from Israel by the Babylonians, he and several other Hebrew young people were placed into a training program designed to teach them Babylonian customs and to prepare them for a life of service to the Babylonian king. Because the food served by the Babylonians did not conform to the food rules followed by the Jews, Daniel asked his guards if he and the other captive Jews in the program could be fed a separate diet, consisting of only fruits, vegetables and water. The second account the Daniel Fast is based on comes from the 10th chapter of Daniel, in which Daniel fasts by consuming no meat, wine, bread or sweetened foods.
Although there are no set rules set out by any churches or synagogues for how long followers should stay on the Daniel Fast, many set the time frame as three weeks. This length comes from the account of Daniel’s fast in the 10th chapter of the Book of Daniel. During this instance, Daniel fasted for 21 days and was rewarded at the end of that time with a visitation from an angel and prophecies about the future of Greece and Persia.
Foods to Eat
The foods allowed on the Daniel Fast conform to those consumed by Daniel in the Biblical accounts–vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, fruit, whole grains, fruit and vegetable juices and water. The vegetables and fruits can be fresh, frozen, dried or canned, and the nuts include nut butters, such as unsweetened peanut and almond butter. All soy products are allowed, as well as vinegar, herbs, spices, salt, other seasonings and all oils, especially olive and canola oil.
Foods to Avoid
All meat and animal products–including fish–and all dairy products should be avoided on the Daniel Fast. Other items not allowed on the fast include all sweeteners (even natural sweeteners like honey and molasses), any bread product containing yeast, processed grains, such as white rice or flour, fats that are solid at room temperature like butter or lard, deep-fried food items and any beverage other than water.
If you plan on following the Daniel Fast, be certain to include several sources of protein, such as beans, nuts or soy products, in your meals every day. People who have a medical condition or who intend on having their children follow the fast with them should consult their doctors before beginning. If, at any time, you find your ability to function normally impaired, it would be wise to partially break the fast and consult a physician or nutritionist.