Frequently Asked Questions About the Daniel Fast
When considering a Daniel Fast, most people have questions, specifically about the food guidelines. Following are some of the most frequently asked questions about the fast.
1. Why isn’t yeast allowed on the Daniel Fast?
In the Bible, yeast is often a symbol for sin, and God often required the Israelites to give up leavened bread (contains yeast) during certain times as a way of setting them apart from neighboring peoples. By not having yeast, we’re making a statement against sin and that’s in keeping with Jewish tradition by refusing to eat leavened bread as we seek the Lord.
2. What about nutritional yeast since it’s deactivated and not a leavening agent?
Whether or not to use nutritional yeast, which is an inactive form of yeast, is really matter of personal conviction. Some people may choose to have it, while others do not. Personally, I don’t use any type of yeast in my recipes.
3. What about whole grains?
Yes, whole grains are allowed. The modern-day Daniel Fast is based on Daniel’s fasting experiences, which involved denying himself certain foods while he sought the Lord in prayer. Scripture gives us some insight (such as in Dan. 10:3) into what he ate and didn’t eat; however, we don’t know all the specifics. Refer to my Daniel Fast Food List for foods to eat and foods to avoid.
3. Can I have whole wheat bread? What about Ezekiel bread?
Whole wheat products are allowed, including bread. However, the bread must be made without yeast or sugar (these are restricted on the fast). In other words, it needs to be unleavened bread, otherwise known as flatbread. Ezekiel bread is not allowed because it contains yeast. You can find a Daniel Fast friendly recipe for bread here: Flatbread.
4. Why isn’t vinegar allowed?
The process of creating vinegar involves fermentation, and the oxidation of ethanol produces an alcohol-containing liquid. However, one particular vinegar, apple cider vinegar, has many nutritional benefits, so some people may choose to include it on their fast. The idea of the fast is to deny yourself as an act of worship to the Lord. We don’t want to be so legalistic about every single thing that we put into our mouths that we miss the whole point of the Daniel Fast, so I would encourage you to seek the Lord for direction. Note: Fresh lemon juice is a good substitute for vinegar!
5. Can I eat fish on the fast?
No animal products are allowed, including seafood. However, some people may choose to modify the guidelines for medical reasons. Whether or not to include fish is a matter between you and the Lord.
6. What about agave nectar or honey?
No added sugars are allowed on the Daniel Fast, including agave nectar, honey, brown rice syrup, molasses, maple syrup, raw sugar, table sugar, and artificial sweeteners.
7. Many canned items contain ascorbic acid. Can I have that on the fast?
On the Daniel Fast you should avoid additives, chemicals, and preservatives as much as possible. However, there are some ingredients in canned foods that are considered “natural” preservatives. Examples are salt, lemon juice, and ascorbic acid, which is a form of vitamin C. So, yes, foods with ascorbic are allowed. However, keep in mind that fresh is always best. Frozen foods are next highest in nutrients, and then canned.
8. How many meals do I eat per day? Can I have snacks?
The number of times you eat throughout the day is a personal decision. Some people choose to eat three meals. Some might add a snack or two in between. Others may skip a meal to pray. There isn’t a particular formula for the frequency of meals. Let God guide you as to what your fast should look like.
9. What about portion sizes?
Sometimes you will hear people say, “On a Daniel Fast, you can eat as much as you like because it’s all healthy!” That’s not true. Even though this is a partial fast, it’s still a fast, which involves self-denial. I recommend that you let the Holy Spirit lead you in this area. The idea is to have enough food for sustenance and energy, but not so much that you’re overeating.
10. I’m worried about not getting enough iron on the fast since we can’t have meat. What are vegan sources of iron-rich foods?
“Dried beans and dark green leafy vegetables are especially good sources of iron, even better on a per calorie basis than meat. Iron absorption is increased markedly by eating foods containing vitamin C along with foods containing iron” (Source: “Iron in the Vegan Diet”). Here are a few suggestions: 1) Soybeans (edamame) – Garlic-Sesame Edamame, 2) Lentils – Blackened Lentils and Onions, 3) Spinach – Sweet Spinach Salad, and 4) Tofu – Strawberry-Banana Smoothie. You can also use the search bar in the header (top right) to find other Daniel Fast recipes with these ingredients.
11. Can I have protein powder on the Daniel Fast?
See my blog post, “Protein Powder on the Daniel Fast.”
1. I know tea is restricted because it contains caffeine, but what about herbal tea?
The main reason teas (even herbal) are restricted is based upon Daniel’s example in the Bible and the fact that he drank only water during his fasts (Daniel 1:12 and 10:3). For some people, having tea is a daily treat, so they may choose to give it up for a period of fasting as a sacrifice to the Lord. Perhaps this is not the case for you and maybe you might choose to include herbal tea on your fast.
The Daniel Fast guidelines are meant to help provide boundaries. However, they are not meant to cause legalism so that you are overly focused on what to eat and what not to eat. That would negate the whole point of drawing near to God. The goal is to eliminate foods that will give you a sense of self-denial and sacrifice. I would encourage you to pray about what sacrifices God is asking you to make on your fast and if herbal tea is one of them.
2. Is coffee allowed?
Sorry, but no. No caffeine is allowed on the fast (even decaf is out!).
3. Can I drink juice?
The recommended beverage on the Daniel Fast is water. You should drink it most of the time. Fruit juices (100%, unsweetened – read ingredients to make sure) CAN be used on the Daniel Fast, such to flavor recipes and occasionally as a drink. But I don’t recommend drinking a lot of fruit juice (unless you’re doing a juice fast and are using freshly extracted juice from a juicer).
4. What about sparkling water?
Yes, you can have regular (unsweetened) sparkling water, such as San Pellegrino or Perrier, on the fast.
1. I’m diabetic. Is it safe for me to do the Daniel Fast?
The Daniel Fast is an extremely healthy way of eating, and many people with diabetes have done the fast with success. I would recommend staying away from foods that are problematic and spike your blood sugar levels. if you have concerns about specific foods, consult a nutritionist or doctor.
2. Will I experience any side effects?
Some people do experience side effects, such as bloating, headaches, fatigue, and muscle soreness as your body adjusts to the changes in your eating habits. Typically, these unpleasant symptoms will subside after the first few days. By the second week, many people feel a surge of energy once they’ve settled into the fast. Note: Drinking water can help flush out your system and bring relief more quickly.
3. Do you have suggestions on how to do the Daniel Fast with children?
Yes, I do. I’ll share a little about how we handle that situation. My husband and I have two daughters (ages 12 and 10). Every year is different when it comes to their level of participation. For the January 2015 Online Daniel Fast, my oldest decided to do a sugar fast for one week instead of the full Daniel Fast (nothing with added sugar). My youngest chose to do a three-week Daniel Fast along with Justin and me. It was her decision.
I recommend trying to include children as much as possible. They don’t have to follow the fast 100% for it to learn about the discipline of prayer and fasting. Also, seeds of faith will be planted that will grow over the years. Here’s an article I wrote a few years ago that might be helpful: Fasting as a Family.
4. Can I do the Daniel Fast while breastfeeding?
The Daniel Fast way of eating is extremely healthy and provides a wide range of nutrients for you and your baby. You can follow the plan without fear that you’re depriving your baby of important vitamins and minerals. Most moms are concerned about a lack of protein, which is understandable. But, if you’re intentional about it, you can actually consume a good amount of protein on the fast (15-20%) without taking in restricted foods (such as eggs, meat, yogurt, and cheese). However, some moms may choose to modify the fast to boost the protein (such as having yogurt as an exception). It really becomes a matter between you and the Lord. Here are some things to keep in mind:
1) Drink plenty of water. Adequate water intake is very important when you’re nursing.
2) It may take a few days for your body to adjust as it goes through a detoxification. If you feel weak, have a headache, or just plain lethargic, you will feel better! Usually after 3-4 days, people get a surge of energy and the side effects are minimal. Some fortunate people don’t even have side effects at all!
3) Examples of Daniel Fast friendly protein-rich foods: Beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, peas, kale, and tofu. Beans and rice together form a complete protein, so that gives you an extra boost.
4) Be sure to get your husband’s thoughts on this issue as well. You both should be in agreement as to how you should approach the fasting guidelines. It’s important that you’re unified in the decision.
5. Can I do Cross Fit on the Daniel Fast?
Yes, you can, but you may experience some weakness on the first few days of the fast. After that, your body should settle in, giving you more energy. You might want to supplement with plant-based protein power for smoothies. That will help boost your protein content. Here is a blog post I wrote recently on that very topic: http://www.ultimatedanielfast.com/protein-powder-on-the-daniel-fast/.