About the Daniel Fast
The Daniel Fast is a 21-day partial fast where you abstain from certain foods as an act of worship and devotion to God. The goal is to draw closer to God through focused prayer. It is not a diet, but a unique and life-changing experience. The guidelines are meant to establish boundaries, not enforce legalism. The most important part is to deny yourself physically, seek the Lord in prayer, and grow closer to Him.
FOODS TO EAT ON THE DANIEL FAST
- Whole grains
- Beans and legumes
- Nuts and seeds
- Other Beverages
FOODS TO AVOID ON THE DANIEL FAST
- Animal products
- Added sugar
- Refined grains
- Processed food
- Deep-fried food
- Solid fats
- Caffeinated and alcoholic beverages
1. WHY ISN’T YEAST ALLOWED ON THE DANIEL FAST?
In the Bible, yeast is often a symbol for sin, and God often required the Israelites to give up leavened bread (contains yeast) during certain times as a way of setting them apart from neighboring peoples. By not having yeast, we’re making a statement against sin and that’s in keeping with Jewish tradition by refusing to eat leavened bread as we seek the Lord.
2. WHAT ABOUT NUTRITIONAL YEAST SINCE IT’S DEACTIVATED AND NOT A LEAVENING AGENT?
Whether or not to use nutritional yeast, which is an inactive form of yeast, is really matter of personal conviction. Some people may choose to have it, while others do not. Personally, I don’t use any type of yeast in my recipes.>
3. CAN I HAVE WHOLE GRAIN PRODUCTS?
Yes, whole grains are allowed, as long as the other ingredients are Daniel Fast friendly. The modern-day Daniel Fast is based on Daniel’s fasting experiences, which involved denying himself certain foods while he sought the Lord in prayer. Scripture gives us some insight (such as in Dan. 10:3) into what he ate and didn’t eat; however, we don’t know all the specifics.
4. CAN I HAVE BREAD? WHAT ABOUT EZEKIEL BREAD?
Whole wheat and whole grain breads, but the bread must be made without yeast or sugar (these are restricted on the fast; see #1 under Food). In other words, any bread needs to be unleavened, otherwise known as flatbread. Ezekiel bread is not allowed because it contains yeast.
5. IS FISH ALLOWED ON THE FAST?
No. Animal products aren’t part of the Daniel Fast, including seafood. However, some people may choose to modify the guidelines for medical or nutritional reasons. Whether or not to include fish is a matter between you and the Lord.
6. WHAT ABOUT VEGAN (PLANT-BASED) PRODUCTS, SUCH AS VEGGIE BURGERS, CHEESE, AND MAYONNAISE?
It all depends upon how strictly you plan to follow the Daniel Fast. Some store-bought vegan products are better quality (and more nutritious) than others. Yes, you can have them, but I encourage you to find ones with the least amount of ingredients.
Two things to keep in mind regarding store-bought vegan products: 1) Are all of the ingredients Daniel Fast friendly? Check the label to be sure. 2) Since one of the goals of the fast is to avoid highly processed foods, it is a healthy choice? There are some vegan products that are better than others.
7. CAN I HAVE VINEGAR? WHAT ABOUT APPLE CIDER VINEGAR AND BALSAMIC VINEGAR?
The process of creating vinegar involves fermentation, and the oxidation of ethanol produces an alcohol-containing liquid. However, one particular vinegar, apple cider vinegar, has many nutritional benefits, so some people may choose to include it on their fast. The idea of the fast is to deny yourself as an act of worship to the Lord. We don’t want to be so legalistic about every single thing that we put into our mouths that we miss the whole point of the Daniel Fast, so I would encourage you to seek the Lord for direction. (Note: Fresh lemon juice is a good substitute for vinegar.) Since balsamic vinegar isn’t produced with alcohol like regular vinegar, only grapes, it can be used on the Daniel Fast.
8. WHAT ABOUT HONEY OR AGAVE NECTAR?
No added sugars are allowed on the Daniel Fast, including agave nectar, honey, brown rice syrup, molasses, maple syrup, raw sugar, table sugar, and artificial sweeteners.
9. CAN I HAVE STEVIA OR MONKFRUIT?
Some people will use stevia on the fast since it’s plant-based. Monk fruit is a similar type of situation. The decision of whether or not to use natural sweeteners (plant or fruit-based) is a matter of personal conviction.
10. IS COCONUT SUGAR ALLOWED?
I’d consider coconut sugar to be an added sugar. You could use unsweetened coconut flakes instead. Some people may disagree with that position and not see a problem with using it on the fast. That’s OK. Not everyone’s fast will look the same. It’s between you and the Lord.
11. CAN SOY SAUCE BE USED ON THE FAST?
Some people choose not to use soy sauce because of the fermentation process that’s involved (involves alcohol, which isn’t allowed on the fast). Others don’t have a problem with using it.
12. MANY CANNED ITEMS CONTAIN ASCORBIC ACID OR CITRIC ACID. CAN I HAVE THESE PRODUCTS?
On the Daniel Fast you should avoid additives, chemicals, and preservatives as much as possible. However, there are some ingredients in canned foods that are considered “natural” preservatives. Examples are salt, lemon juice, and ascorbic acid, which is a form of vitamin C. So, yes, foods with ascorbic and/or citric acid are allowed. However, keep in mind that fresh is always best. Frozen foods are next highest in nutrients, and then canned.
13. HOW MANY MEALS DO I EAT PER DAY? CAN I HAVE SNACKS?
The number of times you eat throughout the day is a personal decision. Some people choose to eat three meals. Some might add a snack or two in between. Others may skip a meal to pray. There isn’t a particular formula for the frequency of meals. Let God guide you as to what your fast should look like.
14. WHAT ABOUT PORTION SIZES?
Sometimes you’ll hear people say, “On a Daniel Fast, you can eat as much as you like because it’s all healthy!” That’s not true. Even though this is a partial fast, it’s still a fast, which involves self-denial. I recommend that you let the Holy Spirit lead you in this area. The idea is to have enough food for sustenance and energy, but not so much that you’re overeating.
15. ARE SALT AND PEPPER ALLOWED? WHAT ABOUT HERBS AND SPICES?
Yes, you can use salt and pepper to flavor your food. Also, herbs and spices are allowed. However, you need to make sure any store-bought seasonings are Daniel Fast friendly. Read the ingredients list on the label to be sure. Watch out especially for added sugar.
16. CAN I HAVE CHOCOLATE, COCOA POWDER, OR CACAO?
Unfortunately, no. All caffeinated products are restricted, including chocolate, unsweetened cocoa power, and cacao.
17. IS POPCORN ALLOWED?
Yes, as long as it’s air or oil popped. No butter or cheese!
18. I’M WORRIED ABOUT NOT GETTING ENOUGH IRON ON THE FAST SINCE WE CAN’T HAVE MEAT. WHAT ARE VEGAN SOURCES OF IRON-RICH FOODS?
“Dried beans and dark green leafy vegetables are especially good sources of iron, even better on a per calorie basis than meat. Iron absorption is increased markedly by eating foods containing vitamin C along with foods containing iron” (Source: “Iron in the Vegan Diet”).
19. CAN I HAVE GRITS?
Grits are usually refined. They’ve have had the hull and germ removed, which means the grits have been stripped of most nutrients. However, stone-ground grits are allowed.
20. WHAT ABOUT CONDIMENTS LIKE KETCHUP AND MUSTARD?
Both ketchup and mustard contain vinegar, which isn’t included in the Daniel Fast. See #8 (above) for an explanation about vinegar.
1. CAN I HAVE COFFEE? IS DECAF ALLOWED?
Caffeinated products aren’t part of the Daniel Fast. Even decaf coffee usually contains small amounts of caffeine. That being said, some people may choose to include decaf on their fast. It’s really a personal decision and a matter between you and the Lord.
2. WHAT ABOUT HERBAL AND FRUIT TEA? DECAF AND GREEN?
The main beverage on the Daniel Fast is water, so whether or not to include herbal or fruit tea is a personal decision. Some people choose to set tea aside for the fast, while others may decide to include it. Another reason teas are restricted is based upon Daniel’s example in the Bible and the fact that he drank only water during his fasts (Daniel 1:12 and 10:3). For some people, having tea is a daily treat, so they may choose to give it up for a period of fasting as a sacrifice to the Lord. Perhaps this is not the case for you and maybe you might choose to include herbal tea on your fast. When I first started doing the Daniel Fast, I felt that I should give up even herbal tea, not because there’s anything wrong with it but as a sacrifice. I really enjoyed my morning cup of tea, and it had become a habit. So when I committed to the fast, I didn’t drink it. I’m glad I did, too, because I realized I could. God will guide you and give you peace in the direction you need to go. Caffeinated products aren’t a part of the Daniel Fast, and, even though decaf tea sounds like it doesn’t contain caffeine, it does. So, no, it isn’t fast friendly. Green tea is also not allowed because of its caffeine content.
3. CAN I HAVE JUICE?
The recommended beverage on the Daniel Fast is water. You should drink it most of the time. Fruit juices (100%, unsweetened – read ingredients to make sure) CAN be used on the Daniel Fast, such to flavor recipes and occasionally as a drink. But I don’t recommend drinking a lot of fruit juice (unless you’re doing a juice fast and are using freshly extracted juice from a juicer).
4. WHAT ABOUT SPARKLING WATER?
Yes, you can have regular (unsweetened) sparkling water, such as San Pellegrino or Perrier, on the fast.
1. I HAVE DIABETES. IS IT SAFE FOR ME TO DO THE DANIEL FAST?
The Daniel Fast is an extremely healthy way of eating, and many people with diabetes have done the fast with success. However, you’re free to modify the fast if you need to do so according to the specific needs of your body. I would recommend staying away from foods that are problematic and tend to spike your blood sugar levels. If you have concerns about specific foods, consult a nutritionist or doctor. While the Daniel Fast does contain a good amount of carbohydrates, many foods also supply protein. One idea to increase protein content is to supplement with plant-based protein powder. You don’t have to follow the food guidelines exactly to get the physical and spiritual benefits of the fast. The most important thing is that you’re committing the time to pray, so God will honor whatever sacrifices you can make.
2. WILL I EXPERIENCE ANY SIDE EFFECTS?
Some people do experience side effects, such as bloating, headaches, fatigue, and muscle soreness as your body adjusts to the changes in your eating habits. Typically, these unpleasant symptoms will subside after the first few days. By the second week, many people feel a surge of energy once they’ve settled into the fast. Note: Drinking water can help flush out your system and bring relief more quickly.