Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Daniel Fast: "and the old shall become new again..."

A simple salad: lettuce, beets, olives, avocado.
Multitasking can be a beautiful thing.  Last night, for example, while I was studying for my Certificate in a Plant-Based Nutrition, I also simmered up a bunch of beets on the stove (results pictured above) and started learning about The Daniel Fast, a whole food plant-based cleanse that takes it's name from the Old Testament Jewish prophet who employed prayer and fasting as a means of growing closer to God.

Turns out there are a couple versions of Daniel fasts out there. And some critics. Seeking to turn a 2600 year old, Biblical story of divine inspiration into a modern weight loss program for profitable gain (some websites make you buy the book or pay to see the details of the diet) might not seem the most Christian of acts. 

But of course, intention is everything. Personally, I like this quote from Susan Gregory, author of The Daniel Fast Cookbook (which I downloaded for free online):

"Biblical fasting was always about restricting food and always for the purpose of drawing closer to the Lord, observing spiritual laws, or seeking God in prayer."

I don't see a whole lot to argue with there. 

In addition to drawing closer to God, another reason to fast or cleanse in modern times is to draw closer to our own true needs, to reconnect with simplicity. Highly seasoned, stimulating and addictive foods (think ice cream, pizza, corn chips, cookies) when consumed on a regular basis can pervert the taste buds to a degree where simple food no longer appeals.

The Daniel Fast is basically a way to "stop the insanity" and reset your brain-mouth connection. Here's my version, with a few modern additions. This program can be safely followed for 3, 10, or 21 days—if not a lifetime, as it essentially consists of a healthy, low fat whole food plant-based diet. Learn more at

The Daniel Fast - Basic Allowed Foods List:



All WHOLE GRAINS in their whole form.

All LEGUMES in their whole form.

All NUTS and SEEDS in their whole form. (2 Tbs/day)

Natural seasonings: sea salt, black pepper, dried and fresh herbs, lemon juice, curry, cayenne, kelp powder

In addition:

100% natural nut butters (almond, peanut, tahini; 2 Tbs/day), tofu/tempeh, organic brown rice cakes, tamari, nutritional yeast, spirulina and chlorella, herbal teas, raw honey, stevia.

(Note: teas and natural sweeteners are not 'officially' allowed on The Daniel Fast but I think it makes sense to include them; a broad stroke is used to define "vegetables" and tea is a plant food, as is stevia, whereas raw honey comes from flowers.)


Biblical Passages upon which The Daniel Fast is based include:

"In those days I, Daniel, was mourning for three weeks. I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks." Daniel 10:2,3

"Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king's food, or with the wine that he drank....[So he requested of the steward] 'Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king's food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.' ... At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king's food. So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables."  Daniel 1:8-16


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