The Daniel Fast is the latest fad diet, but this one has a twist: it’s meant for Christians who “Motivated by both faith and fitness,” limit themselves to fruits and vegetables for 21-day increments, akin to the Biblical Daniel. Olga Khazan reports for The Atlantic:
As a Baptist, January Rowe knew that tough times sometimes call for fasting. Purposefully going without food has long been a part of Judeo-Christian spiritual practice—David, Jesus, the disciples, and many other Biblical figures fasted regularly as a way to show obedience to God. For centuries, Christians have followed the Bible’s example by going hungry for stretches of time as a form of prayer.
In the summer of 2011, Rowe’s husband had just started a business, and “it was a major life change. I wanted to pray and do whatever I could to support him,” she said.
She thought about fasting, but she worried that not eating entirely for days would make it even harder to keep up with her two small children. The she remembered a relative mentioning a modified type of fast—she had called it “the Daniel Fast”—that involved eating only fruits, vegetables, and whole grains for 21 days. For Rowe, a self-described “sugar addict,” it seemed like a meaningful way to deny herself her favorite treats while attempting to channel God’s intentions for her family.
“It wasn’t just me wanting to fit into a size 8, it was me committing to God,” Rowe, who lives near Dallas, explained.
After a few days, she no longer craved sugar, but more importantly, “I was closer to my husband and felt closer to God.”
In the Bible, the Jewish noble Daniel and his companions are captured by the Babylonians and inducted into the service of the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. The Babylonians offer Daniel and his men rich food (“the King’s meat” and wine), but Daniel was wary of God’s prohibition of “unclean foods.”
Daniel 1:8 states: “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank…”
Daniel said he and his friends would eat a diet of only vegetables (“pulse”). After 10 days, they grew healthier and stronger than the Babylonians, and his diet became a small demonstration of his opposition to the King’s power.
This passage is occasionally used to encourage Christians to resist the corrupting influences of the outside world. But several years ago, some Protestant churches began to take the “diet” aspect of Daniel’s story literally.
Motivated by both faith and fitness, today many protestant Christians around the country are, like Daniel, occasionally limiting themselves to fruits and vegetables for 21-day increments. Several such believers told The Atlantic that while their intention for the initial fast was simply to enter a period of Lent-like self-denial in deference to their Lord, they have since found that the fast broke a life-long pattern of unhealthy eating and seems to have set them on a course toward better nutrition even after the 21 days ended…
[continues at The Atlantic]