What Is the Daniel Fast?
The Daniel Fast has grown in popularity following an endorsement from Chris Pratt in early 2019. This short-term fasting approach is actually based on a passage in the Bible. Unlike other fasting methods, the Daniel Fast restricts what you can eat rather than when you eat. It's essentially a vegan diet without any sugars, refined carbs, caffeine, or alcohol. So what can you eat on the Daniel Fast then? Here's what you need to know.
Where Does the Daniel Fast Come In the Bible?
The Daniel Fast is a method of spiritual fasting based on the prophet Daniel's experience fasting according to the book of Daniel in the Bible. There are two passages in specific that the Daniel Fast is based on:
- "Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables [pulses] to eat and water to drink." Daniel 1:12
- "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." Daniel 10: 2-3
From this experience Daniel was said to gain knowledge, wisdom, spiritual understanding, favor, and even better appearance (Daniel 1:15-20) in addition to answered prayer and spiritual insight (Daniel 10: 11-12).
So the idea behind the fast is that you would set aside other foods and focus on eating plant-based meals as an act of worship and sacrifice.
How Long Is the Daniel Fast?
While the Daniel Fast might seem restrictive, it is typically meant to be followed for just 21 days. This length of time is based off of Daniel's decision in chapter 10 to deprive himself of "pleasant food," meat, and wine for three weeks while he sought God in prayer.
Daniel Fast Food List
The only acceptable foods explicitly listed in the scripture are water and vegetables. However the term "pulse" is used in the King James Version, which means "bean or seed grown for food." This gives permission to those on Daniel Fast to eat whole grains, fruits, and other plant-based foods — everything else if off limits.
Foods You Can Eat on the Daniel Fast
- Whole grains: Barley, brown rice, buckwheat, farro, grits, millet, oats, popcorn, quinoa, rice cakes, rye, sorghum, spelt, whole wheat, whole-wheat pasta, and wild rice.
- Beans and legumes: Black beans, black-eyed peas, cannellini beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), great northern beans, kidney beans, lentils, peanuts, pinto beans, and split peas.
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, natural nut butters (no additives), peanuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, pistachios, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, soy nuts sunflower seeds, and walnuts.
- Vegetables: All vegetables whether fresh, frozen, dried, juiced, or canned.
- Fruits: All fruit whether fresh, frozen, dried, juiced, or canned (so long as it doesn't contain added sugar).
- Oils: Oils can be used minimally, but not for deep-frying.
- Herbs, spices, and seasonings: Includes salt and pepper.
- Soy products: All soy products including tofu.
- Unleavened bread: Whole grain breads made without yeast, sugars, or preservatives.
- Water: Distilled, filtered, sparkling, spring, and mineral waters allowed.
- 100-percent fruit juice: Natural, 100-percent fruit juice is allowed but should be had sparingly.
Foods You Can't Eat on the Daniel Fast
- Animal products: All meat, dairy, seafood, and eggs.
- Sweeteners: Agave nectar, artificial sweeteners, brown rice syrup, brown sugar, cane juice, corn syrup, honey, malt syrup, molasses, raw sugar, sugar, and other syrups.
- Leavened bread: Bread made with yeast.
- Refined and processed foods: Foods that contain artificial flavorings, artificial preservatives, food additives, white flour, and white rice.
- Deep-fried foods: All fried foods.
- Solid fats: Butter, lard, margarine, and shortening.
- Chocolate: Milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, dark chocolate, chocolate syrup, and cacao.
- Some beverages: Alcohol, coffee, and other caffeinated beverages.
Is the Daniel Fast Healthy?
A 2010 study found the 21-day Daniel Fast to be well-tolerated by both men and women, and to improve some risk factors for metabolic and cardiovascular disease. However, larger, randomized studies over a longer time period are needed to draw more conclusive results.
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