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The Daniel Diet: A Health-Conscious Spiritual Discipline with Biblical Origins

When approached with intentionality and adequate structure, the Daniel Diet can produce unprecedented personal results.

By Brad Johnson

At the turn of the new year in 2019, 54 percent of Americans resolved to eat healthier. In similar fashion, the Washington Post reported in 2018 that 45 million Americans go on a diet each year—about 14 percent of the nation. These statistics are nothing to sneeze at; experts estimate around 160 million Americans are either overweight or obese. No one can be blamed for wanting to lose weight and kick-start healthy habits!

Furthermore, out of the five leading causes of death in the United States, at least three are strongly related to personal diet (heart disease; cancers; stroke), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that up to 40 percent of such deaths can be prevented. Accordingly, where are many people—and increasing numbers of Christians—turning to find help? They’re examining the Daniel Diet: a health-driven dietary option with strong spiritual components. Check out the recommendations below to uncover how this biblical trend can boost your health goals in 2020.

Black bathroom scale on dark wooden floor with red apple and tape measure for weight loss

Core Components of the Daniel Diet

The Daniel Diet, sometimes referred to as the Daniel Fast, is a partial fast originating from the book of Daniel, a major prophet in the Old Testament of the Bible. The book delineates a few details about the dietary choices the prophet took in Daniel 10:1-3 (NLT):

“In the third year of the reign of King Cyrus of Persia, Daniel (also known as Belteshazzar) had another vision. He understood that the vision concerned events certain to happen in the future—times of war and great hardship. When this vision came to me, I, Daniel, had been in mourning for three whole weeks. All that time I had eaten no rich food. No meat or wine crossed my lips, and I used no fragrant lotions until those three weeks had passed.”

Within the passage we see that Daniel’s diet was heavily restricted; he avoided wine, meat, and “rich foods.” Many scholars and researchers interpret rich foods to mean anything derived from an animal, as well as cultural delicacies that would have been commonplace in that time. Restricting wine and meat intake would have been stringent enough, but Daniel’s abstinence from other culinary enjoyments truly defines the power and viability of his fast.

Based on the food and drink Daniel wasn’t consuming, most experts of the diet believe he was eating raw vegetables and fruits, drinking water, and possibly eating some legumes and whole grains. Most of these foods are known for their cleansing properties, high fiber content, and various micronutrients, and had a high probability of improving Daniel’s gut flora, skin quality, and overall energy levels.

Based on the passage, we know the Daniel Diet is comprised of whole foods, water, zero additives, nothing processed, and no animal flesh. Daniel followed it for three weeks, which many experts state is the minimum viable time required to form a habit.

Black oblong skillet with fresh vegetables on wooden countertop

Essentials for Success with the Daniel Diet

The Daniel Diet is rich in fruits and vegetables, and it can work as a full mind and body cleanse. It is designed to help the dieter increase self-control, patience, and goodness, all of which are fruits of the Spirit. When approached with intentionality and adequate structure, the Daniel Diet can produce unprecedented personal results.

First, have an accountability partner, which will foster a much higher chance of success. Food is a communal part of life, and if you have a spouse or family, attempting to stick with an eating plan can be much easier when people closest to you are supporting the goal.

Second, map out your fast ahead of time. Thanks to the wealth of knowledge online, websites like The Daniel Fast have done the heavy lifting for you. Check out their food list with tips for helping you succeed as well as tasty recipes to easily incorporate into your meal plan. Make a plan that gets you excited; you’ll have a lot more fun with it!

Third, remember to take it one day at a time. The Daniel Diet is all about intentionality before God, sacrifice, and a willingness to let yourself become renewed. Be in touch with God about all your thoughts and feelings along the way. His presence can help you remain encouraged and prevent you from feeling overwhelmed.

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Disclaimer: This blog post and the contents within do not constitute, represent, or act as a substitution for professional medical or nutritional advice. When making personal lifestyle changes of any kind, first consult your local health-care provider, dietitian, or other licensed professional.

Now through January 31, 2022, save 25-30% on the entire Daniel Fast series HERE!

The Daniel FastBook cover of The Daniel Fast by Susan Gregory published by Tyndale House by Susan Gregory

What if you could grow closer to God and improve your health in just 21 days? Susan Gregory, “The Daniel Fast Blogger,” has a plan to help you do just that. Widely recognized as the expert on this 21-day fast inspired by the book of Daniel, Susan has helped thousands of people discover a safe and healthy way to fast. The principles you learn from The Daniel Fast will change the way you view food, your body, and your relationship with the one who created you. Includes 21 days’ worth of Daniel Fast recipes!

Also check out The Daniel Fast Workbook and The Daniel Fast for Weight Loss.

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Christine loves how stories open our imaginations to God and His work in our lives. As a marketing coordinator at Tyndale, she is excited to help readers connect to life-changing stories through books, Bibles, and blog articles. In her free time, Christine enjoys reading multiple books simultaneously, exploring the forest preserve near her home, and writing about everything she sees and experiences.

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