The Daniel Fast is based on this Old Testament scripture:
“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, 3The purpose of the fast is for spiritual discipline during a time of prayer -- so that one's energy and focus can turn away from fleshly fulfillment and toward things of God. The fast wasn't developed for nutritional benefits. However, I think that a time without certain foods (a partial fast) as the Daniel Fast prescribes has some secondary benefits to our bodies... not that it was meant at all for our bodies!
Daniel himself ate "no pleasant food" for three weeks. The present day Daniel Fast includes only vegetables, fruits, grains (not leavened), nuts, seeds and freshly pressed, quality oils. Some of these foods seem pretty pleasant to me... I can envision quite a beautiful salad or a fantastic dessert made with only these selective foods! In fact, the cookbook for the fast includes chapters such as "tasty breakfasts," "satisfying casseroles," and "fulfilling snacks." It seems to me, and this is just my perspective, that if one uses this fast for spiritual reasons, the foods listed for consumption need to be kept simple, rather than tantalizing.
But, back to the nutritional benefits. Whether one fasts by eating plain foods from the list or by exciting them up with the corresponding recipes, the body will be benefited from a time to cleanse and purify. While on the fast for three weeks, all meats, dairy, processed foods, sweetened foods and foods with any chemicals or preservatives are to be avoided. Sounds good to me.
The author stresses the importance of reading food labels to make sure none of these ingredients are unintentionally consumed. Sounds really good to me. I love reading labels!
Our bodies need a break from junk. And our bodies can also use a temporary break from meats and dairy. I don't consider those two food groups junk (when they are healthy meats and dairy), but these groups are more difficult to digest. Giving our body simple foods for a time allows more of our energy to be given to detoxifying rather than digesting. And three weeks is an adequate time for that cleansing to happen.
So, to sum up, the Daniel Fast seems like a good idea to me - both for your physical and spiritual health. If I ever use the plan, I think I'll opt for keeping it simple... if anything, keeping the meal preparation simple would give me more time for prayer.
And, one more suggestion: after the three weeks is up and you welcome healthy meats and dairy back into your diet, you may still want to leave the sugared and processed foods out permanently.
I've got a handful more of your questions to address over the next few days, as time allows. I welcome more if you want to put them in the comments or email them to ae @ healthbeginswithmom . com.
For your health,