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Everything You Need to Know About the 21-Day Daniel Fast

Everything You Need to Know About the 21-Day Daniel Fast

I am a huge fan of the 21 day Daniel Fast! I do the Daniel Fast at the beginning of every New Year and find that it is the perfect way to jump start the year. During this 21-day period, I renew my body, mind, and soul towards God. It is a great way to gain clarity and direction for the New Year, and to draw closer to God. Think of it as a spiritual, physical, and emotional reset. I absolutely love it, and hope you do too!

But, What is a Fast?

Okay, I hear you. Does the idea of a fast seem…dated? Have you heard of it but not sure what it actually is? No worries, I’ll explain. The textbook definition of fasting is, “a willing abstinence or reduction from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time”. Fasting is biblical, and was used frequently throughout the Bible by (but not limited to) Moses, Elijah, Esther, Job, David, Daniel, Paul, and even Jesus.

There are many different types of fasts 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 

Through fasting and prayer, we set ourselves up to be in the best possible position for breakthrough. It’s 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.

And I am not the only one to experience this. Countless stories from friends and family have told me that by combining fasting and prayer, it produces an environment for God to come into our lives and create breakthrough.

So What is a Daniel Fast

The Daniel Fast is an actual fast that the prophet Daniel did in the Book of Daniel from the Bible. It follows his dietary and spiritual practices which includes a partial fast (restricted food and drink) over the course of 21 days. It 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) 

Wait, I thought the Daniel Fast for 21 Days?

To understand the length of time for the Daniel Fast we have to have a general understanding of the Book of Daniel.

Here’s a quick rundown:

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.

Daniel was determined to not “defile” himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. Instead, Daniel asked for permission to not eat these unacceptable foods. However, his request was denied because they were afraid Daniel and his friends would become pale and thin compared to the other young men their age.

Daniel then spoke with the attendant and asked to be “tested” for 10 days on a diet of 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).

I know what you’re thinking, what about the 21-day fast?

So, fast forward to the 10th chapter of Daniel, where he says the following;

“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)

The context of this passage is when Daniel receives a vision from God, and is so troubled by it he mourns and prays for understanding for three weeks. By “choice foods” we can assume this is most likely breads and sweets. Nonetheless, during this period, Daniel chose to restrict his food intake down to the basics; only vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, and water. The purpose was to not indulge in tasty foods so he could focus on God.

However, a fast can be for any specific period of time. It can be as short as only a day or two, and for as long as you choose. Moses and Jesus even fasted for 40 days! I personally like to do the Daniel Fast twice a year; once during the New Year for the full 21 days, and again in June for one week. I find this is perfect for me to have a bi-annual renewal and spiritual reset. 🙂

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 the 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. It is always best to consult a nutritionist or doctor before partaking in any fast.

Foods to Include During the Daniel Fast

All of these foods can be eaten any way you like. You could do raw or juiced for a more intense diet, or enjoy them cooked, steamed, grilled, or sautéed. The way that you choose to eat these foods is up to you. 🙂

All Fruits

  • 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

All Vegetables

  • 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 to Avoid During the Daniel Fast

These foods should be avoided during the Daniel Fast. The most important thing is to CHECK THE LABELS before you eat anything. You will be shocked at the amount of added preservatives and sugars that are in most 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

Christian Christmas Cards

Wow this Looks Hard, is there a Cheat Day?

If this looks extremely limiting, then you are probably on the right track. 🙂 It will be a real test of self-control and discipline to follow through with this diet for an entire three-week period. However, if you “cheat” or are unable to make it the entire fast, don’t worry! The Daniel Fast is meant to be a time of renewal and closeness between you and God. It’s about your relationship with God, not your performance for God.

My first time doing the fast, I had booked a vacation during week 3 of the fast, and promised myself I would stick to the diet even on vacation.

As you can imagine, this didn’t happen. :/

If you are having a special dinner or there’s a birthday, or if your cravings are just getting the best of you, don’t beat yourself up! Have a cheat day or a cheat meal. The fast is to help you gain spiritual clarity and renewal with God. Not to beat yourself up for cheating here and there. 🙂

A Sample Daniel Fast Meal Plan

The key is to have plenty of “Daniel Fast friendly” foods at the ready. Plan your meals out ahead of time!

This way you won’t be so hungry you just eat anything in sight. Never leave the house without snacks. An added bonus of the Daniel Fast is you might even find you save money by cooking your own meals instead of ordering out. 🙂

For an easy Daniel Fast cookbook, try out this one: Daniel Fast Cookbook – Top 100 Recipes by  John C. Carey

Daniel Fast Cookbook

Another great book I think you’ll enjoy is Daniel Fast Smoothies also by John C. Cary which includes amazing smoothie recipes that are good for you and also taste amazing.

Daniel Fast Smoothies

Daniel Fast Meals & Recipes

Below I’ve also included a sample day on the Daniel Fast so you can get an idea of what kinds of foods you’ll be eating. 


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


  1. In a small saucepan bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add in a pinch of salt if desired.
  2. Stir in 1 cup of quinoa.
  3. Reduce heat to LOW and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.
  5. Mix together black beans, grape tomatoes, red onion, and yellow pepper in a large bowl.
  6. In a separate bowl, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, minced garlic, sea salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Pour over vegetables.
  7. 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


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Place the spaghetti squash cut side down on a baking dish.
  3. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes. The flesh of the squash will be tender, and the skin is easily pierced with a fork.
  4. 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.
  5. Add mushrooms and cook for 3 more minutes.
  6. 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.
  7. When the squash is finished, scoop the flesh from the squash onto a plate. Using two forks, separate and fluff the strands of squash
  8. Combine the squash with the sauce in the skillet. Enjoy!

If you want these recipes as a FREE print out, just click the image below!

Click here to download    

Benefits and Side-Effects of Fasting

Let’s start with the side-effects first so you’re fully aware of what could be happening to you.  

Side-Effects of the Daniel Fast

As you change your eating habits, it’s common to experience one or all of the below:

  • Bloating
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • 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 love love love coffee, and my body is detoxing from the lack of caffeine. However, around day 4 or 5 I start feeling more energized than before!   My body also doesn’t handle beans very well. Because of this I try to avoid eating an excessive amount or else I might experience bloating.   I recommend to start the Daniel Fast on a Saturday, so if you are not feeling your best, you have the option to relax at home. 🙂 Christian Christmas Cards

Benefits of the Daniel Fast

There are so many benefits of fasting. It’s fantastic and I honestly look forward to it every year! I am amazed at how effective fasting and fervent prayer can be.   The two go hand in hand, and it makes complete sense.   Our body, mind, and soul is all connected. The foods that we eat affect our bodies, which in turn affects our minds and souls.   Spiritual 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 and answered prayers
  • Able to experience more clarity and understanding about the direction for your life
  • Helps you to depend and rely on God

  Physical Benefits It’s no coincidence that the Daniel Fast is 21 days, and it takes 21 days to break a habit. Through fasting you break down bad habits and addictions (ahem…for me that’s coffee and sugar).  

  • Breaks down bad habits and 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

Fasting and Prayer

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, fasting and prayer is a wonderful way to draw closer to the Lord and experience breakthrough.   I just can’t say enough positive things about it.   Fasting helps to focus your body, mind and spirit on God, and not your own desires. It is common throughout the Bible (and life) for a sacrifice to be made, in order to achieve breakthrough.   We are asked to give our tithes first to God, in representation that we are putting Him first in our lives. In sports, we are required to train and sacrifice muscular fatigue and soreness in order to achieve our team goals.   In our careers, we might be asked to sacrifice long work hours in order to reach our company goals.   When you experience hunger or cravings, use this time to lean in and depend on God. Ask for strength and perseverance.   This is why I recommend spending extra quiet time with God (through prayer and bible study) during the fast. 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 a fast, without experiencing the spiritual benefits.   But again, don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day of bible study or forget to pray. This is not about performance, but about drawing closer to God. 🙂  

Read More: The Top 10 Most Accurate Bible Translations

Bible Translation Comparison: The Top 10 Most Accurate Bible Translations

Before doing 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. It is common for people to hear from the Lord more clearly during this time, so that is why it is so important for you to write down everything you’re experiencing.  This way you won’t forget it and you can look back on how the Lord worked and moved in your life during the dry seasons when you feel far from God. 🙂   The easiest way to do this is to have a Daniel Fast devotional. A great one (that’s super affordable!) is conveniently called The Daniel Fast Devotional by Nannette Elkins. I find this is the perfect way to create some sort of structure to your quiet time with God during the fast. 🙂   Also as an added bonus, here are my absolute favorite Bible study tools to help me get in the word and understand what’s going on!

Bible Study Supplies


Bible Study Tools


Click here to sign up!

I hope this post and these resources help you as you begin your own Daniel Fast this year! I’m excited for you and your journey, have the most blessed day! Xx


Click here to join!  

Read More

The Top 10 Most Accurate Bible Translations (my most popular post!)

Bible Overview: A Summary of the Whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation

My Top 10 Bible Study Tips!

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Everything You Need to Know About the 21-Day Daniel Fast  

Have you done the 21-day Daniel Fast? Love to know your thoughts below!

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Welcome to Lavender Vines

I’m Tiffany, a travel lover, small business owner, and expert-level cat cuddler. Sharing the love of Jesus is one of my favorite things ever, hence why I started this blog! You’re gonna find loads of goodies on this site, but one of my fav’s is my brand spankin’ new free ebook on your identity in Christ. Cut to the chase – Jesus thinks you’re pretty cool – but my ebook explains just how cool you really are. It’s kinda amazing.

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  1. Lyv

    Wonderful post! You have such an inspiring sense of who you are in Christ! Looking forward to taking part in this experience to draw closer to God this new year. (And I think I’m going to couple the David Fast with your 21 day journey e-mails with Bible verses to make the most of my spiritual growth those days!)
    Thoroughly enjoy reading your posts. Blessings to youTiffany!


      Hi Lyv! Thank you so much, I am so glad you are wanting to do the Daniel Fast and I think doing it with the 21 day journey is a perfect idea! Your words make me so happy, lots of love to you as you go into the New Year! Xx

      • Dione

        Hello! this is just such an amazing article! Your insights, humour and just sharing recipes and your thoughts have really helped me be determined to stay on course. Because I know that this personal sacrifice will allow breakthrough and amazing blessings and favour for my life. Thank you for sharing. I’m so glad I signed up for the newsletter! Blessings to you. Dee


          Hi Dee! I am so happy my article is helpful for you! So happy to have you as part of the Lavender Vines family, I am excited for your breakthrough as you draw closer to God. All my best to you!! Tiffany

  2. Nomvula

    Thank you very much Tiffany. It is my first time doing 21 days fasting. This post answered all the questions I had.much love and appreciation all the way from South Africa


      Hi Nomvula! I am so glad it’s helpful for you, I am excited for you to do the fast! Sending lots of love your way!! Xx

  3. Anonymous

    Hi Tiffany I will be doing the Daniel fast in January 2019 can I receive the 21 day devotions then for my fast? I am also signing up for newsletters. Thanks


      Hi! The 21 day devotions is perfect for the Daniel Fast 🙂 The devotions start when you sign up, so what you can do is sign up for them the day before you start the fast so that you’ll receive your first day’s devotion when the fast actually starts 🙂

  4. Brittney

    Loved reading all this information with me doing my first Daniel fast!


      YAY that is awesome! So excited for you friend and your journey with the Lord!


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