The Daniel Fast

We went to this great Christian Camp over the summer. Camp of the Woods deserves its own blog post, so I’ll write more about that later. While we were there, we poked around the Christian book store and picked up a bagful of goodies. One of the books I picked up was called, The Daniel Fast by Susan Gregory.

For some time, I have been taking care of myself physically. I eat a pretty healthy, whole foods diet. I’ve been running for the past few years and more recently I bought a bike & started taking yoga classes. But lately I’ve been trying to get stronger spiritually as well. I love to do these weird food experiments (last year I blogged about my whole foods detox diet), so The Daniel Fast was right up my alley. And Earl was excited to try it with me.  This fast is vegan plus. Vegan. No animal products. No dairy. No meat. Plus, we had to exclude all sugar (even honey & syrup), coffee, alcohol and unleavened bread. The only drink we could consume was water.  It’s based on the experiences of the Old Testament prophet, Daniel.  As we were fasting, we were also supposed be studying our bible daily and praying for something specific. Let me tell you how it went:

To start, I stocked my kitchen with all the necessary items: beans, vegetable broth, fresh fruits & vegetables, nuts, seeds, olive oil, almond milk, coconut milk, etc.

Day 1:  We were all “gung ho.”  This was day 1. We were going to do this. No problem.

Day 2:  Picture it.  I took the children to swim class. This is day 2 without coffee. This is the last week of summer. They are poking and teasing each other on the car ride there. We make it to swim class (just barely). The ride home:  poke, tease, scream, repeat. I pull over the car. I turn around and something rises from the pit of my being that sounds like I am possessed. I had reached my breaking point and it wasn’t pretty, folks. We drive home in silence, I send them to their rooms and I fall into a heap on the couch (crying like a little baby for coffee. And cheese.) Note to self: do not make radical changes on the last week of summer when you are already at your weakest.

Day 6: Start the day with two ibuprofen as you have done for the past 6 days. I have NEVER experienced withdrawal like this before. I have cut out everything before except dairy and unleavened bread. I still ate wheat (wheat pasta, matzo bread, etc) so dairy must have been the culprit. I was tired all the time and my back was aching like I had arthritis. Cheese is addicting people. Go ahead, google it.  Makes me not want go back. But then I think of pizza and say, “nah, it’s all worth it.”

Day 7: Withdrawal symptoms finally subside and I’m starting to feel human again.

Day 14: If you are going to become a vegan, do not eat anything but vegan food. Do not make “neatloaf” thinking it will taste like meatloaf. They can’t fool you.

Day 16: I think I’d rather starve than choke down another bowl of oatmeal with unsweetened almond milk for breakfast.

Day 18: Earl ends his fast. An all-day fine arts retreat and a party with wine afterwards beat Daniel. I continue on like the martyr that I am.

Day 21:  I end my fast with a zucchini muffin and a cup of hot chocolate.

At the end of the fast, I’m feeling stronger than I did when I started. I don’t feel like I need a nap every day. I have more energy. And I learned a few things along the way:

  1. Self control: No, I don’t have to reach into the freezer for a few chocolate chips when I’m stressed (poke.tease.scream.repeat).
  2. It made me realize that we really do eat more dairy and wheat than is necessary. We can get protein and calcium from other sources, so it’s my plan to reduce our intake on these in the future.
  3. It’s true. I won’t starve eating plants.
  4. These crazy experiments I do, usually produce healthy habits that stick.
  5. Simplifying is good. I really don’t need very much to be happy. All of the things I missed (coffee, cheese, wine) are just luxuries. I don’t *need* them.

All in all, a great experience. I feel stronger mentally, physically and spiritually.  I’d definitely be willing to do it again, just not too soon.

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