I’ve never done a Daniel Fast before, so when my colleague/friend asked if I would do one with her church, I agreed on the premise that it was only 21 days and I could do anything for 21 days. She told me she would tell me what you could eat, but basically, you ate vegetables, as the prophet Daniel did. I knew Daniels story well, so I was interested in improving my mental acuity, while growing closer to God. I agreed, as I knew this time would be good for my relationship with God and chose to focus my prayers on my marriage.
You can read more about the Daniel Fast here: Ultimate Daniel Fast
I let my husband know my desires to do this fast, and to my surprise, he agreed to do it with me. I think this was my favorite part of the Daniel Fast and really an answer to my prayers – Mike and I trying something new together. We read a book on the Daniel Fast together and started planning for what we could eat. I loved how he was just as into it as I was and even when the going got tough, that we were in it together and we worked together to be successful. The biggest blessing was that we started cooking together. You can’t easily do a Daniel Fast without a lot of thought and preparation, so I found recipes and we started cooking our meals together. This was something I enjoyed so much, we decided to continue this even after the fast.
As much as I enjoyed the togetherness, we didn’t start the fast that way. We went to the grocery and bought foods that we could eat on the Daniel Fast, but I underestimated the necessity of preparation. I thought that I could just throw meals together and it would all work out. That lasted one day. I quickly realized that if I wanted this fast to be somewhat satisfying, I would have to plan ahead.
The first day was easy from a nutritional standpoint, as the newness factor helped, but Satan definitely got his digs in. That night, I felt terrible. I woke up in the middle of the night with stomach pains, dry mouth and general malaise. My body seemed confused and disappointed by my new nutritional inputs. It missed its sugar, chemicals, and caffeine.
On Day 2, the headache and shakiness set it. I’ve had withdrawal headaches before when I’ve cut out Diet Coke, so I was prepared for the worst. Reading from the Daniel Fast book with Mike, while he cooked for us, definitely helped my perspective. We had an enjoyable meal and a good time together. I went to bed early, as I did not want to take anything for my headache. I felt it was important to feel the withdrawals as my body rid itself of the toxins I’ve been supplying.
My headache lingered as a dull pain on Day 3, but it was much improved. I found myself more actively engaged in prayer and relying on God’s strength, rather than my own, as I faced difficult tasks. This was helpful, as I began to struggle with strong cravings. I wanted everything I wasn’t allowed to have. Mike and I read another chapter of the Daniel Fast book and that helped.
Mike and I cooked our first meal together on Day 4; it was such a positive experience for us. We made spaghetti squash with a homemade red pepper tomato sauce. It was really good! We also were adventurous and tried a soy sausage. It wasn’t bad. I felt like I was past the withdrawals and began to see that this was something we could sustain for the three-week commitment, but I had no inclination of going past that.
On Day 5, I had a new respect for my husband. He met me for lunch and ate red beans and brussel sprouts, two things he dislikes greatly. I was so proud of him! A colleague of mine encouraged me to purchase a vegan cookbook, so I was excited about the possibilities of trying new things with Mike.
By Day 7, the cravings were in full force. I missed “good food” more than I imagined. Of all the crazy things I could have desired, I wanted a Wendy’s double stack after seeing a commercial about them being in the 4 for $4 combo. Interestingly, this craving, along with my desire for a Stripes gas station taco, lasted the entire fast. I started to feel a small amount of victory over my cravings on Day 8.
Once I got to Day 11, I felt a huge shift in my perspective. I missed “date night” and wanted to go out to dinner. I loved cooking with Mike, but I felt this fast had made me less social. I found a vegan restaurant called Loving Hut and it was absolutely unbelievable. I felt like their Mongolian “beef” was even better than traditional Mongolian beef. I couldn’t even tell that it was made of soy.
On Day 13, Mike and I made quality vegan food at home, and I started to feel like this lifestyle was more sustainable, as good vegan food existed and was possible to make. This was my first true shift in focus. I finally saw the benefit of eating healthy food. I missed meat, and looked forward to adding that to my diet, but I wanted a more whole food lifestyle to be the default. I wanted to be able to eat “junk” in moderation, with quality food being the norm.
In light of my mental shift after two weeks of the Daniel Fast, the last week of the fast went very smoothly. I also discovered vegan pizza and that was pretty incredible – thankfully whole grains were allowed on the Daniel Fast. On the last day of the fast, I felt like I made strides physically and spiritually. As I’ve mentioned, the most important takeaway for me was the togetherness aspect of the fast. I felt like Mike and I were truly partners with the same goals and I loved facing our challenges together. I lost 7-8 pounds over the 21 days (some being water weight, of course) and I felt great. I was excited to be done, but definitely looked forward to having many of the items I missed (Wendy’s, Stripes tacos, beer).
I feel like the Daniel Fast was an instrumental jump start to healthy living. Learning that I should try a gluten-free diet on Day 21 of the fast was a bit rough for me. Luckily, I was encouraged to take a week off before embarking on the next phase of my journey. That gave me a bit of reprieve, but as you will see, I didn’t take that advice and maybe that was to my detriment.
Stay tuned for more 🙂