Daniel Fast–Expert Advice

Hello, My name is Kristin Brookshire. Currently, I work as a registered and licensed dietitian for Meals on Wheels and More of Austin.

I am very excited to be part of Hope Chapel’s initiative to fast and pray together during this coming Lenten season. The main focus of these blog posts is to help fellow Hopeites who want to engage in the Daniel Fast follow the guidelines of the fast in a practical and livable way.

Please feel free to ask questions and post stories of success or struggle in the comments section of this post. Of course, to those of you who are considering a different style of food based fasting, please to not hesitate to ask questions here as well.

The Daniel Fast, as we follow it today, is taken from two passages in scripture where Daniel was lead to fast in two specific ways.

Daniel 1:12 – Daniel requested to eat only vegetables and water for 10 days

Daniel 10:2-3 – Daniel did not eat any choice foods, meat or wine for 21 days

With that said, I must add a minor disclaimer – this fast is not intended to be an exact replica of Daniel’s fast. How could it? We don’t know precisely what he meant by “choice foods” nor the types of foods that were likely available to him at that time. And no, we won’t fuss too much about these things. Rather, our primary goal should be to replicate the spirit in which Daniel went into fasting. The food is secondary.

The following guidelines are based on the two scriptures mentioned above, as well as several published resources that outline the “modern” interpretation of this style of fasting.

The Basics

Foods to Avoid

  • Animal Meat or Products – dairy, cheese, eggs
  • Sugar or Sweeteners (including artificial)
  • Leavened Bread
  • Processed or Refined Grains – a.k.a. “junk food”
  • Fried Foods – including French fries, potato chips, etc.
  • Caffeine or Alcohol

Foods to Eat

  • Water Water Water
  • All Fruit – fresh, frozen, canned
  • All Vegetables – fresh, frozen, canned
  • Whole Grains – brown rice, oats, quinoa, millet, barley, etc.
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • All Legumes – canned or dried
  • All quality vegetable oils
  • Other – herbs, spices, salt, pepper, seasonings, soy products, tofu

This is a very “clean” diet that has basically eliminated junk food and only allows for foods that will actually revitalize your body. It is very similar to a restrictive vegan diet. Expect to lose weight if you follow this fast for the full 21 days. Those who wish to maintain their weight will need to double up on their quantity of  higher calorie foods such as nuts, avocado, whole grains and starchy vegetables.

A Few Resources

TheUltimateDanielFast – website and blog


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6 Responses to Daniel Fast–Expert Advice

  1. Courtney says:

    I’ve been seeing ‘nutritional yeast’ in a lot of vegan recipes, would this be part of the Daniel Fast or ideally should it be left out if possible?

  2. Ginger Umstattd says:

    Thanks, Kristin. Yes, that does help. I was already considering adding fish once or twice a week to compensate for protein. Eggs sounds good, too. Juicing greens, or green smoothies would also help get lots of greens in, adding some protein, right? Thanks ahain.

  3. Kristin B says:

    @Ginger: Good questions. If you were to eliminate all meat products from your current diet, the only significant source of protein that you could get would come from nuts and seeds. Unfortunately, nuts (as well as most plant based proteins) alone are not a “complete protein” source. While leafy greens and other vegetables do have some protein, the amounts are very small and almost not worth counting towards your daily intake (you would need to eat 10.5 cups of cooked kale to get the same amount of protein found in 3oz of beef). Since your current diet excludes other sources of plant based proteins, I would suggest that you and the family do not give up animal products entirely. Perhaps consider cutting out beef, pork, and poultry, but keeping fish and eggs in your lent diet plan. Hope this helps :)

    @Paul: First of all, way to go! Veganism is a very effective diet for controlling diabetes. As to what you can safely give up for lent, you might consider some of the other suggestions listed for “cleaner” eating. I’m not sure how restrictive your current diet is, but if you are currently eating fried foods, processed grainy foods (chips, crackers, dry cereals, etc), artificial sweeteners, or soda/coffee, these are all things that you could safely give up and substitute with an alternative.

    @Everyone: Ultimately, remember what I wrote about focusing on the “spirit” of the fast, rather than the rules. If it is health prohibitive or otherwise not feasible to follow the diet that is outlined above, find something else to restrict/eliminate in your life (perhaps a behavior) that you feel would be a positive force in bringing you closer to our Lord during this season.

  4. Ginger Umstattd says:

    I have a question. Because our family is already gluten, grain, complex starch (legumes) and dairy free, will it be healthful to also remove all meat products? Is it safe? I know greens have protein. How can we get enough protein if we cannot eat beans or meat? I am happy to lose weight while fasting, but want to be safe. What are your thoughts?

  5. Paul Dyba says:

    I am already on a vegan diet.

    I am also on a somewhat restricted potassium diet.

    I am diabetic.

    Based on the preceding three statements, what do you suggest I safely give up during Lent?

    I wish I had known about you when my PCP instructed me to avoid foods high in potassium since my potassium level was too high.

  6. Elizabeth Huss says:

    Thanks ~ this is very helpful and motivational.

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