The Daniel Fast is becoming so popular, it’s honestly really exciting!
Thanks to celebrities like Chris Prat and, well…really just Chris Prat (lol), what was once a not-so-well-known fast derived from the Book of Daniel, is now a very well-known fast, popular on a national level.
So, what exactly is the Daniel Fast?
Well, that’s what we’re going to discuss in this post.
We’ll cover topics like what the Daniel Fast is, Daniel fast rules, what kinds of foods you can eat on the Daniel Fast, what benefits you can expect to experience while on the Daniel fast, and ultimately why you should give the Daniel Fast a shot.
If you couldn’t already tell, I am a huge fan of the Daniel Fast and have done it for the last 7 years (typically at the beginning of every New Year).
I find it to be the perfect way to start the new year. I use this time to focus and realign my life towards God, and gain clarity and direction for the year.
For me it’s a spiritual, physical, and emotional reset. I absolutely love it, and hope you do too!
21-Day Daniel Fast
Does the idea of a fast seem…dated? Have you heard of it but you’re not sure exactly what it is?
Before we define what the 21-day Daniel Fast is, let’s discuss what biblical fasting is in the first place.
The textbook definition of fasting is:
“A willing abstinence or reduction from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time”
You’ll find fasting all throughout the Bible. It was used frequently by noteworthy people in the Bible such as (but not limited to) Moses, Elijah, Esther, Job, David, Daniel, Paul, and even Jesus.
There are many different types of fasts you could do including:
- Absolute Fast (or dry fast) – Abstinence from all food and liquid for a period of time (usually 24 hours to a few days)
- Water Fast – Allows water drinking but nothing else
- Partial Fast – Restrict certain foods and drink
- Juice Fast – Allows squeezed or blended foods only for a period of time
Fasting is important because it’s through fasting and prayer that we are able to set ourselves up to be in the best possible position to hear from God and for breakthrough.
Fasting is a practice of self-discipline that brings amazing spiritual results. When I am not able to hear from God or am really needing an answer to prayer, fasting works when nothing else will.
It is truly amazing. However, I am not the only one to experience this.
Countless stories from pastors, friends, and family have all agreed that when you combine fasting and prayer together, it produces an environment for God to come in and speak to you in a way that might be difficult otherwise.
Although the Daniel Fast is typically for 21 days, fasting in general doesn’t necessarily need to be for a specific period of time. It can be for as short as only a day or two, and for as long as a month.
Moses and Jesus even fasted for 40 days!
I personally like to do the Daniel Fast twice a year: once in January for the full 21 days, and again in June for seven days.
This method of fasting works great for me because it’s like a bi-yearly reset where I deny myself something I enjoy and replace it with reconnecting with my true love, Jesus.
Daniel Fast in the Bible
Okay, at this point you might be wondering, “So, where did we get the idea of ‘the Daniel Fast” or “Where exactly is the Daniel Fast mentioned in the Bible?”
Rest assured, the 21-day Daniel Fast is an actual fast found in the Bible. It isn’t just a new trendy thing we’ve recently started doing.
The Daniel Fast is actually derived from the Book of Daniel and follows Daniel the prophet’s dietary and spiritual practices over the course of 21 days.
It’s a diet that focuses heavily on fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grain foods, and eliminates certain foods such as meats, sugars, and any beverage except water.
A reference from the Book of Daniel is below:
“Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables [pulses] to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.”
Daniel 1:12-13 (NIV)
To understand the significance of the 21-day Daniel Fast, it really helps to have a general understanding of the Book of Daniel.
Read More: Overview of the Entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation
Below is a brief overview of the Book of Daniel:
The Book of Daniel begins with one of the book’s most significant characters, King Nebuchadnezzar.
At this point in history, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had seized Jerusalem and wanted to take some of Judah’s strongest, healthiest, and brightest young men back to Babylon as captives. Daniel and three others were chosen, and were to be trained for three years in Babylon. After the three-year period, they would then would enter the Babylon royal service.
While in captivity, Daniel was determined to not “defile” himself by eating the food and wine given to them by King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel asked for permission to not eat these foods however, his request was denied because the Babylonians were afraid Daniel and his friends would become pale and thin compared to the other young men their age.
Undeterred, Daniel then asked to speak with the attendant and be “tested” for 10 days on a diet of only vegetables/pulses (“pulses” = vegetables, fruits, seeds, and grains) and water. At the end of 10 days, they were to be compared to the other men who were eating the king’s food.
The attendant agreed to the test, and at the end of 10 days, Daniel and his friends looked healthier and better nourished than the other young men.
From then on Daniel and his friends only ate a diet of vegetables (pulses) and water.
So, at this point you might be thinking, “Then why is the Daniel Fast considered a 21-day fast?”
The reason is actually found in chapter 10 of the Book of Daniel where Daniel says:
“At that time, I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate not choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.
Daniel 10:2-3 (NIV)
*By “choice foods” we can assume this was most likely meat, wine, breads, and sweets.
The context of this passage is: Daniel had received a vision from God and was so troubled by the vision that he mourned and prayed for understanding for three weeks, or 21 days.
During this period, Daniel chose to restrict his food intake down to just the basics, vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, and water. The purpose was to not indulge in tasty foods so he could focus on God.
At the end of the day, that is the main goal of the Daniel Fast, to not indulge in tasty foods, but instead focus on your relationship with Christ.
The Daniel Fast Food List
Alright finally, we’ve gotten to the Daniel Fast food list. Since the Daniel Fast is a partial fast (restricting certain foods and drink) there isn’t a limit to the amount of food you can eat, but instead to what kinds of food you can eat.
Note: This is a general list from the information we are provided in the Bible. If you have any health issues or dietary restrictions, it is absolutely okay to tailor your fast to your specific needs. If you have concerns about specific foods, please consult a nutritionist or doctor before partaking in the fast.
Foods You Can Eat During the Daniel Fast
The way that you choose to eat these foods is up to you. You can eat them raw or juiced for a more intense diet, or enjoy them cooked, steamed, grilled, or sautéed to add more flavor.
- Fresh, frozen, juiced or cooked fruits are all okay
- Dried fruits without added sugar are okay
- Avoid canned fruits because of added sugar and preservatives
- Fresh, frozen, juiced or cooked vegetables are all okay
- Starchy vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, and yams are all okay
- Avoid canned vegetables because of additives
All Whole Grains – All whole grains are okay including, but not limited to:
- Whole wheat, brown rice, quinoa, oats, barley, grits, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat tortillas, buckwheat, rice cakes, popcorn
All Beans & Legumes – Can be canned or dried. Includes but not limited to:
- Pinto beans, kidney beans, white beans, garbanzo beans, and lentils
- Hummus without added sugars
All Nuts & Seeds – Includes but not limited to:
- Peanuts, cashews, walnuts, almonds, chia, flax, and hemp seeds
- Also includes all nut butter without added sugars
All Quality Oils – Includes but not limited to:
- Olive oil, canola oil, sesame oil, and coconut oil
- Water is allowed including, spring water and distilled water
- Vegetable or fruit juice (fresh squeezed only, no added sugars)
- Unsweetened coconut milk and almond milk
- Tofu, soy products, vinegar, seasonings, salt, herbs and spices
Foods You Can’t Eat During the Daniel Fast
These foods should be absolutely avoided during the Daniel Fast. If you are eating packaged or pre-made foods, I highly recommend CHECKING THE LABEL before eating it. You will be shocked at the amount of added preservatives and sugars that sneak themselves into packaged or pre-made foods.
All Meat and Animal Products – Includes but not limited to:
- Beef, lamb, pork, poultry, and fish
All Dairy Products – Includes but not limited to:
- Milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, and eggs
All Sweeteners/Sugars – Includes but not limited to:
- Any form of sugar
- Honey, agave nectar, and maple syrup
- Cookies, baked goods, gum, mints, candy, and chocolate
All Refined & Processed Foods – Includes but not limited to:
- Baked goods and breads (unless doesn’t include yeast or sugar)
- White flour, white rice, and crackers
- Foods with artificial preservatives, flavorings, additives, or chemicals
All Deep-fried Foods – Includes but not limited to:
- Potato chips, French fries, and tater tots
Beverages – Includes but not limited to:
- Coffee and tea (even decaf or herbal tea)
- Alcohol (even wine)
- Juices that aren’t fresh squeezed or without added sugars/preservatives
- Carbonated beverages
- Energy drinks
Daniel Fast Rules
Now we’re going to address the “Daniel Fast Rules”. If you’re anything like me you’re probably thinking, “Wow this looks hard, is there a cheat day?”
Trust me, it will be a real test of self-control and discipline to follow through with this diet for the entire 21 days.
However, if you “cheat” or are unable to make it without cheating for the entire 21-day fast, it’s going to be okay! Fasting (and any spiritual discipline for that matter) is always more about your heart posture than about your performance.
The Daniel Fast is meant to be about getting closer in your relationship with God, not about your performance for God.
When you experience cravings, use this time to lean in and depend on God. Ask for strength and perseverance, but don’t beat yourself up if you cheat.
My first time ever doing the Daniel Fast, I booked a vacation to Hawaii during the last week of the 21-day fast. I had promised myself I would stick to the diet even while on vacation.
As you can imagine, that didn’t happen.
However, even though I didn’t make it the full 21 days, it’s not like the previous two weeks of fasting were all of a sudden completely in vain. My heart’s desire was to draw closer to God, and even though I struggled to make it til the end, God honors your efforts to sacrifice something for His sake.
Remember, it’s not about performance, but about connecting with your Heavenly Father.
So, if you have a special dinner or a birthday you’ll be attending, or if your cravings are just getting the best of you, don’t beat yourself up if you cave in and cheat.
The “Daniel Fast rules” are that there are no hard and fast rules.
The Daniel Fast is about creating a deeper and more intimate relationship with your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who loves you.
It’s not a new tool for the enemy to make you feel guilty and shameful because you didn’t follow the rules to a T.
Daniel Fast Meal Plans
Okay, at this point you’re probably getting excited and are ready to dive in!
However, trust me when I say, having some Daniel fast meal plans at the ready will definitely take you far.
The key is to have plenty of “Daniel Fast friendly” foods around you during those moments when you are so hungry, you’ll just eat anything!
That’s why it’s important to plan your meals out ahead of time and to never leave the house without Daniel Fast snacks!
For some easy Daniel Fast recipes, try the Daniel Fast Cookbook and Daniel Fast Smoothies by John C. Carey for easy and ready to go for meals and snacks!
To help you out, below I’ve included a sample Daniel Fast meal plan:
Banana and Date Oatmeal Smoothie
- 1 whole banana
- 5 pitted dates
- 1 tablespoon nut butter (I prefer almond)
- 1/3 cup unsweetened nut milk (I prefer coconut or almond)
- ¼ cup rolled oats
- 1 cup ice
- Optional: 1 tablespoon chia seeds, flax seeds, or hemp seeds
- Optional: 1 serving of a plant-based protein powder
Blend all ingredients together in a blender.
Snack: Snap peas and hummus
Quinoa and Avocado Salad
- 1 cup quinoa
- 3 ripe avocados, diced
- 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 pints of grape tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 cup red onion, chopped
- 1 yellow pepper, diced
- 1/4 cup lemon juice (preferably fresh)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- In a small saucepan bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add in a pinch of salt if desired.
- Stir in 1 cup of quinoa.
- Reduce heat to LOW and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.
- Mix together black beans, grape tomatoes, red onion, and yellow pepper in a large bowl.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, minced garlic, sea salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Pour over vegetables.
- Once the quinoa is cooled, blend in the quinoa and avocados. Serve at room temperature and enjoy!
Snack: Steamed edamame and sea salt
Spaghetti squash with Marinara Sauce
- 1 medium spaghetti squash, halved and seeded
- 1 zucchini, chopped
- ½ cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
- ¼ cup red onion, chopped
- 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Place the spaghetti squash cut side down on a baking dish.
- Bake in the oven for 45 minutes. The flesh of the squash will be tender, and the skin is easily pierced with a fork.
- Heat the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the zucchini, onion, and garlic. Cook for 5 – 7 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
- Add mushrooms and cook for 3 more minutes.
- Stir in the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, Italian seasoning, sea salt, and black pepper. Simmer for another 20 minutes, or until the squash is finished.
- When the squash is finished, scoop the flesh from the squash onto a plate. Using two forks, separate and fluff the strands of squash
- Combine the squash with the sauce in the skillet. Enjoy!
Click the button below to download the recipes so you can reference them later!
Daniel Fast Benefits
Let’s talk about some benefits you will likely experience while on the Daniel Fast.
There are so many benefits that come from fasting, namely because the food we eat is so vital to our spiritual and physical health. The benefits I receive from fasting is one of the main reasons I not only continue to do the Daniel Fast every year, but actually look forward to it.
To help keep things organized, I’ve broken the Daniel Fast benefits down into two main categories: spiritual benefits and physical benefits.
- Draws you closer to God
- Makes you more sensitive, clear, and level-headed so you are able to hear God’s voice
- Able to experience breakthrough in your life
- Able to receive answer to prayers
- Able to experience more clarity and understanding about the direction for your life
- Helps you to trust God more, depending and rely only on Him
- Breaks off bad habits and addictions (like sugar and coffee addictions)
- Helps to detoxify your body
- Can experience an increase in energy levels
- Helps with a healthy form of weight loss
- Improves skin and hair through an increase in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants (fruits and vegetables)
- Boosts your immune system
I find it really interesting that the Daniel Fast is 21 days, and it takes 21 days to break a habit.
While doing the Daniel Fast, this might also be a great time to remove bad habits and addictions (for me that’s coffee and sugar) and create new healthy habits in its place.
Daniel Fast Side Effects
Now we’re going to talk about some side-effects you may experience while on the Daniel Fast.
These might not happen to you, but it’s good to know ahead of time that some of them at least could happen.
As you go about changing your eating habits, it’s common to experience one or all of the below:
- Muscle soreness
For me, I tend to have a headache and feel foggy and fatigued for the first three days. This is mostly because I am obsessed with coffee, and my body is experiencing withdrawals from the lack of caffeine.
However, the good news is around day four or five I actual begin to feel more energized than before I started the fast!
So, if you know you will also struggle with caffeine withdrawals, I recommend starting the Daniel Fast on a Saturday. That way, if you are not feeling your best, you have the option to stay home and rest. 🙂
My body also doesn’t digest beans very well, and when I started incorporating them into my diet while on the Daniel Fast, I began to experience bloating and general uncomfortableness. Because of this I tried to avoid eating them and just looked to other Daniel Fast friendly foods to feel full and satiated.
The best way to go about combating these Daniel Fast side effects is to wait at least 4-5 days before changing things up. The negative side-effects might just be your body detoxifying and adjusting to the new food.
However, if the side-effects still persistent, then I would try to pinpoint exactly what is making you feel bad and eliminate that from your diet.
If it still persists, then I would recommend seeing a health care professional. You could have an unknown allergy or sensitivity to one of these foods that you weren’t previously aware of.
The Ultimate Daniel Fast
If you truly want the ultimate Daniel Fast experience, then I highly recommend incorporating prayer alongside your fast.
Prayer and fasting is like the secret weapon to drawing closer to God and for breakthrough in your life.
I just can’t say enough positive things about it.
Read More: How to Draw Closer to God
I also recommend spending extra quiet time with the Lord (through prayer and bible study) during this time.
This is just as important as the actual dietary restrictions.
If you are simply restricting your diet without seeking God, then you may still experience the physical/emotional benefits of the fast, without experiencing the spiritual benefits.
And the spiritual benefits are what you’re really after.
So, before you begin the Daniel Fast, I recommend writing down any goals or prayer requests you hope to gain during the fast.
I also recommend that you journal during the Daniel Fast.
*Below is a great Daniel Fast journal that I recommend. Just click here or the image below to view!
It is common for people to hear God more clearly during this period, which is why it is important to write down everything, even if you have a good memory.
The Bible even teaches on the importance of writing things down. One of my favorites is after the victorious battle in the Book of Exodus where Joshua defeats the Amalekite army:
“After the victory, the LORD instructed Moses, ‘Write this down on a scroll as a permanent reminder, and read it aloud to Joshua: I will erase the memory of Amalek from under heaven.’”
Exodus 17:4 (NIV)
God wants us to write down what He is saying and the victories we experience in Christ so we can use them as a permanent reminder of how good God is and how He is constantly working in our life.
The Christian walk includes seasons of mountains and valleys, and it’s when we’re in the valley that we need the reminder of what God did for us on the mountain.
The Top 10 Most Accurate Bible Translations
Bible Overview: A Summary of the Whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation
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Did this post help you understand what the Daniel Fast is? Let me know in the comments below!
this was sooo helpful!!! thank you!!!
You are so welcome!!
This post has everything I could possibly want to know and it’s easy to read — thank you!
So excited to try this!
This makes me so happy, you are so welcome! I am excited for your fasting journey and for your breakthrough!
This has been one of the BEST breakdowns I have read. Thank you so much for sharing! I have been doing this fast for years, but haven’t always been able to relate my feelings about it into words. Fantastic explanation.
Thank you so much, Caitlyn! I am so happy it is helpful 🙂
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Really knowledgeable article, you been talking about everything I could possibly think about… Well done!