Last month, my family and I participated in something called the Daniel Fast. It was my father-in-law, Mark's idea and since he and Treasa (my mother-in-law) were going to do it, and we currently live with them and share all our meals with them, we participated by default. The two anchoring Scriptures where this fast comes from are
1: Daniel 1:12, which reads:
12 “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink..."
(At this time, Daniel was brought to train to be part of the King's service. His guard was ordered to feed him all the royal food, but Daniel would not defile himself in this way. He urged the guard to give he and his fellow Israelites nothing but vegetables (this would have included fruits) and water for 10 days, then compare their appearance with the other servants. After the 10 days, they were better nourished and healthier than the servants who ate the royal foods.)
From this Scripture the first two guidelines of the Daniel Fast were formed:
1. Only fruits and vegetables
2. Only water for a beverage
2: Daniel 10:2-3, which reads:
2 At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. 3 I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.
From this Scripture, the third guidline was formed:
3. No sweeteners and no breads
Two additional guidelines were derived from Jewish fasting principals and the creators of this fast:
4. No leven- Yeast, Baking Powder, etc.
5. No artificial or processed foods nor any chemicals
I will admit that I was not entirely excited about this fast when Mark first mentioned it. I have had mirgraine trouble for years and generally use large amounts of caffiene daily to keep the migraines at bay. I was not looking forward to giving up Diet Pepsi and the headaches that would most certainly occur. But guess what? I did not have any withdrawal headaches. Not One. I took myself off Excedrin as well, so it wasn't like I was even masking the lack of Diet Pepsi with other caffienes. I drank strictly water (I did cheat and add flavor packets). I may not have followed the diet super strictly, but I made every effort to follow most of the basic guidelines.
As I mentioned, I was not overly excited to start this fast, but now that I have completed it, I am SO glad we did it! It has been over a month since we started the fast and we still try to center most of our meals around the Daniel Fast Guidelines. What types of foods do we eat? Here is a glance at what a day in the life of Annie's Daniel Fast would look like:
*Whole wheat tortilla with peanut butter, strawberries and bananas- rolled up. Yummy breakfast on the go!
*Clementines - these were a great snack to always have on hand. Easy to peel and so sweet!
*Veggie soup - my MIL added spicy V8 to her regular old veggie soup recipe and swapped vegetable broth for the chicken broth, then added any veggies we wanted. I could eat this every day for lunch, it is SO good!
*Peanuts, cashews, almonds - take your pick, they are all on the Yes List! I found them to be great fillers to get me from lunch to dinner. Plus, they are crunchy and salty. Yumm (O:
*Whole wheat spaghetti with all-natural tomato sauce - See! You can eat "regular" dishes but make them so much better for you! Add garlic salt, pepper, etc. to taste and it is as delicious as ever!
*Water, Water, WATER! I currently drink at least 72 fl oz of water a day, most days even more. (Yes, I am the kind of girl who is always drinking something...it's so much better/cheaper now that it is water instead of soda!)
Another great thing about eating better is FEELING BETTER. Yes, the first few days were pretty rough. I was super tired and felt somewhat lethargic; I think this was my body dealing with caffiene withdrawal. By day 4 of our official 10 Day Fast, I felt great! I had lots of energy and felt great. I started enjoying and *Craving* fruit for snacks and the thought of soda lost all appeal. I started going to Zumba classes twice a week with Treasa and my sister-in-law, Amy- and Love it! There is something about the combo of eating well and working out that makes me feel so good about myself. (How dreadfully red my face gets and how beyond-nasty sweaty I get are a different story...refer to this post. haha!)
An additional bonus for my personal experience with this fast and subsequent change in lifestyle is weigth loss! I did not intend to really track this as part of the fast, since the fast is not about the physical but about the spiritual. But I did check in from time to time just for my own personal knowledge...and I'm happy to say I lost 8 pounds in 3 weeks and have kept it off! I still have a long way to go, but it feels so so good to be on the right track. I'm not doing some crazy fad diet that will take the pounds off temporarily and then pack them back on if I sniff ice cream for too long. As long as I continue to practice healthy decisions, the improvements will continue to progress. (And yes indeed, I have definitely added ice cream back into my diet- but much less often than before and using a much smaller bowl).
I keep thinking about how this fast came along at exactly the right time. I have only a few months left before we head for our island home, and I had a lot of bad habits that needed to be kicked. I'm thankful to say that caffiene and soda are behind me- they were my biggest hurdles. I am also on the road to reaching my goal weight. I have much left to do, but now that I do not feel "deprived" from food, I know I can get there. I am thankful for the tools this fast has given me as well as the encouraging words of friends and family.
If you have never head of the Daniel Fast before, I encourage you to follow the link I listed above and look into it for yourself. I also encourage you to seriously consider participating- either in the 10-day or 21-day fast. The severed ties to processed foods and chemicals is exactly what I needed to jumpstart my journey to a healthier lifestyle of living. If you have any questions about something I didn't cover, please let me know! I am by no means an expert, but I would love to help you if I can! (O: