While some people may try the Daniel fast for weight loss purposes, for most it is meant to be a spiritual experience that draws them closer to God. The fast is a partial fast based on accounts found in the biblical book of Daniel, of a time when Daniel refused to eat the king's food to follow God's ways.
Before You Start the Daniel Fast
Instead of eating from the king's bounty, Daniel opted to eat only vegetables and water. His decision to do so is a lesson for people today in learning to deny self and to seek God's will.
For anyone thinking of embarking on this spiritual/physical journey, there are some things to consider before you begin. Take into consideration the influence such a change in diet will have on your body. For example, caffeine withdrawal can lead to side effects such as severe migraine-type headaches and nausea. Eliminating sugar from the diet all at once may also lead to undesirable symptoms as the body detoxifies.
The most common symptoms associated with the Daniel fast include:
- Leg cramps
Six Steps to Prepare
Susan Gregory, author of The Daniel Fast, indicates on her website that it's important to prepare for extended fasting to help prevent negative side effects. The following steps can help prepare you mentally and physically.
- Wean off caffeine and sugar: With possible side effects in mind, one of the first steps for starting the Daniel Diet fast should be to wean off caffeine and sugar before you start the fast to avoid these debilitating symptoms.
- Eat lighter meals a few days before you begin: Eating lighter meals that are lower in calories and fat helps prepare your stomach for less food intake. If you're not used to eating fresh fruits and vegetables or legumes, begin incorporating them into your meals. This will help your body gradually adjust to a higher intake of fiber.
- How long to fast: Decide how long you plan to follow the fast. As a partial fast, the body does get adequate nutrition and can be followed for weeks. It is typically followed for 21 days.
- Check with your doctor: Check with your doctor before starting the Daniel Diet. Let your doctor know what you'll be eating and how long you plan to follow the fast. Your doctor will know your medical history and whether or not the fast should be modified in some way to fit your physical needs.
- Pray: The Daniel fast is a physical as well as a spiritual experience. Through prayer, the dieter should ask for God's guidance and strength as they prepare to deny self and battle physical cravings.
- Set spiritual goals: Also as a matter of prayer, spiritual goals to be accomplished while fasting should be set. These often include prayer, Bible reading, study and meditation.
- Stock your kitchen: The Daniel Diet is a fast that limits many foods. Before you get started, stock your kitchen with an ample supply of the foods you'll need for the fast.
Adequately Prepare for Best Results
The Daniel fast isn't as much about the food as it is about the spiritual journey to become closer to God. It helps take the focus off food and material things and places it on things eternal and the relationship one has with God. The fast is quite challenging so it's important to adequately prepare for it to be successful. Not preparing might lead you to stop the program before you've achieved your spiritual goals.