I do the Daniel fast just about every year, and being a Christian, it’s always a topic of discussion with friends who are surprised I’m fasting, and more shocked at the foods I turn down for a specific length of time. Muslims and Jews aren’t the only groups that fast!

What is the Daniel Fast?

Also referred to as the ‘Daniel Diet’ if one excludes the prayer and scripture reading, it is inspired by the prophet Daniel and his experiences, recorded in the bible, and focuses on a diet of vegetables and whole and non-processed foods as well as the abstaining from any meat or meat-based food sources. Water is the only thing you can drink, and 100% fruit juices and smoothies are allowed as long as they are taken as meals, and only made of fruits or vegetables. As my mother put it best: no meats, no sweets (& sweeteners), no dairy.

salad, Healthy, Thai, homemade, Vegan, coconutbowl, kale, cabbage
Nicole Burnett

While some people complete the fast over the span of 40 days, most, like myself, only do it for 21 consecutive days. Whenever I fast, I view it as a personal, spiritual endeavor that I don’t broadcast, however, it seems to come up rather frequently when someone offers me something that I can’t eat, and I have to decide how much I want to explain to the person, dependent upon how receptive I think they will be to what I say.

The purpose of a fast isn’t to deprive yourself of food, nor is it something that should be taken lightly. In fact, if you’re doing it correctly, your focus shouldn’t even be on what you can or can’t eat, but on strengthening your relationship with God and tuning out the world around you to hear what He has to tell you. Honestly, each person who fasts has a different reason as to why they do. For me, I’d just barely survived a rough fall semester that left me mentally and emotionally scarred, and I needed some clarity, direction and motivation for my life.

The Effects...and Me 

Moving back to the food aspect, being in college always makes this process slighter harder than I when I was back home in high school. For three weeks, the majority of my diet consisted mostly of sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, brown rice, dry roasted peanuts, whole wheat pasta, canned/fresh vegetables, canned beans, salsa (no sugar), unsweetened almond milk, tortilla chips, oatmeal, raisins, fresh fruits when I could buy them, and 100% apple juice.

cereal, wheat, corn, pasture, oat, oatmeal, barley, hands, handful, handful of oats, grain, Rolled oats
Jocelyn Hsu

Yes, I was hungry in the beginning, but eventually my stomach adjusted to the consumption of less calories. Yes, I craved everything from burgers to Reese’s cups, but I soldiered on. Before I bought or ate anything, I always checked the label for all forms of added sugar, otherwise I wouldn’t eat it. I’m always in awe of how much junk I consume on an everyday basis, and the temporary cutting of cheese and processed sugars from my diet made a significant difference in clearing up my sinuses. My snacking was a lot healthier without a trip to the nearest vending machine, and late night eating became a thing of the past because I wasn’t mindlessly grabbing something to put in my mouth before bed.

Although this wasn't my first time nor will it be the last time I do the Daniel Fast, each time I always manage to take away something from the experience. While the health perks were great, and my body received a much needed detox, the true benefit this year was getting the questions about things happening in my personal life answered. What college student doesn't worry about life after graduation? Or fret about whether or not they're currently on the right path to whatever they want to accomplish? I'm happy to say that I got the confirmation I needed and it's still encouraging me even a month later.