And now for something completely different… (Hey, my byline warned you that I have ADD!) Our church is about to do a 21-day fast, and our family chose to follow along with the Daniel Fast. This is a plan that has intrigued me since I learned about it, because our family already leans toward a plant-based, non-processed diet. It can be overwhelming for those who haven’t tried a similar lifestyle, though. I have heard people say that they were hungry the entire time they were on it, and honestly, that’s not how this particular fast is supposed to be.
Daniel 1:15 “At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king’s food.”
Clearly, the Daniel fast is intended to produce a state of superior nutrition, not starvation. In the secular world, many people who have transitioned to a nutritionally-sound vegan diet have experienced similar health benefits. I would personally argue that the Genesis account backs this up. Prior to the Fall, humans were able to subsist entirely on plants. The concession to eating meat came about because of the difficulty obtaining enough produce outside the walls of Eden. (It was also symbolic due to the shedding of blood, but that doesn’t apply to the nutritional aspect here.) My point is that there is biblical evidence to support the idea of humans thriving on a plant-based diet. My goal in sharing our family’s Daniel fast meals is to help others to thrive on a plant-based diet as well, whether they are trying it short-term, or seeking a long-term lifestyle change.
It is important to note that while Daniel 1:12 says “vegetables,” the best translation of that meaning would be “plant-based.” It is unlikely that you will thrive on a 21-day diet of bell peppers and carrots, but with attention to each category of nutrients, you should be able to do quite well.
The easiest way to approach nutrition is to break it up into the key groups that our body needs for health:
vitamins & minerals (fruits & veggies)
If a person’s diet contains these nutrients in adequate amounts, they should have the energy to get through each day without feeling like they are missing something. (Other than plain old cravings!) A diet can be omnivorous, vegetarian, vegan, or anywhere in between, but if it has these basic components, it is complete.
When we first introduced this concept to Kiddo, we actually used plates that were divided into 3 sections to teach her how to set up a well-balanced meal. This was an easy way to visualize the concept, but it is important to note that in plant-based diets, it is common for one “superfood” to fill more than one category. For example, sweet potatoes provide a good source of carbohydrates, but are rich in vitamins as well. Quinoa provides both protein and carbohydrates. Avocados count as a fruit, but are rich in good fats. Walnuts and almonds are wonderful proteins, but also rank high on the “good fats” list.
If thinking of food in terms of nutrients is new to you, you may find it useful to know which foods fit into which category. Once, when I recommended more proteins, a friend responded, “Oh, so should we use more fruits?” (I was proud of myself for not facepalming right then and there.) So, if you’re equally baffled by what’s what, here are some basics:
beans/legumes (including peas, peanuts, lentils, chickpeas, etc.)
many whole grains (especially quinoa)
some vegetables, such as spinach or brussels sprouts
fruits & veggies, including leafy greens (another crossover)
whole grains (crossover again… plants are versatile that way! 😉 )
legumes/beans (notice a pattern?)
starchy roots such as potatoes & sweet potatoes
Fruits & Veggies:
Okay, I’m going to hope you’ve got this one. One of the keys to this category is diversity. Try a lot of different types and colors. Each one brings something essential to your diet.
–This one is so important if you’re going to feel satisfied. Many of us have had a “Low-fat/No-Fat” mentality driven into us, but there are many different types of fats, and our body needs a good balance of them to stay healthy. The “good fats” in particular help our body to metabolize “bad fats” and aid in our brain function.–
coconut, virgin coconut oil- provides saturated fat in a form your body can metabolize
walnuts, almonds, some other nuts- provide Omega-3s
extra-virgin olive oil- provides unsaturated fats
If you work to pull in foods from each of these groups, you should be able to transition to a vegan/Daniel fast diet without any adverse effects on your health. In my next post, I will share some simple meal plans to bring these concepts to life.
***Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist. My information comes from my own experience and the research that I have done as the mother of a family who eats a whole-foods plant-based diet.***
Some useful links:
(P.S. For those who may be concerned about Kiddo during this fast, her breakfasts, lunches, and snacks will remain as they are, so her diet will only differ from her normal routine during family dinner. She’s too young to fast; it’s just easier to cook one meal for us all at dinnertime.)