Saturday, January 28, 2012
My Daniel Fast Experience
As you may remember, I reviewed a book about the Daniel Fast recently (that you can read here) and wanted to give it a try sometime. So when my husband was asked and agreed to go on a juice fast during January, it became the perfect time for me to fast as well. Now I want to share with you my experience...
The Daniel Fast excludes all animal products, fried foods, sweeteners, processed foods, leavening agents, and beverages other than water. What did I eat? While there are many recipes available that fit in these guidelines (especially if you don't mind going the tofu and soy milk route), I wanted to keep things simple....spend less time meal planning and cooking in the kitchen. I still had to cook for my boys of course, but kept their meals simple too. For breakfast I would have fruit, fruit smoothies (fruit/OJ/ice), muesli (hot cereal made of rolled oats, sesame seeds, and dried fruit), or dry Kashi cereal (which is not fast-approved, but close). Snacks may consist of fruit, veggies, nuts, or plain air-popped popcorn. Meals were normally vegetarian chili, veggie stir-fry, roasted sweet potatoes, or whole wheat spaghetti with homemade tomato sauce. I drank water with lemon and fruit juice. I tried making unleavened bread, but the recipe I used had a really strong olive oil after-taste, so I tossed that.
I didn't go through this process perfectly. For example, one day I popped a bowl of air-popped popcorn that should have been 3 servings. Instead of taking out the amount I planned to eat, I just set the whole bowl on my lap and began to read, thinking I'd just eat a third. But before I knew it the popcorn was gone! Oops. From then on I measured out my portions.
Physically speaking, this type of fast was much easier than I had anticipated. A few days before the fast I started cutting out sweets and caffeine. I was also reducing my portions and tendency to snack between meals. During the fast I was surprised that the small amount of food I was eating (compared to normal) was satisfying my body! I didn't experience any of the physical symptoms I had been cautioned about (it may have helped that I'm not a regular coffee drinker). The one symptom I did experience part way through is a weird sensation in my tongue (like it had been burnt at the tip) that could be due to a vitamin deficiency. But the multi-vitamin I tried to take made me light-headed, so I stopped. I lost about 6 pounds, which is just one benefit of eating healthier...but now my pants are too loose...good problem to have I suppose :)
Mentally, fasting is really hard. I realized that most of the time I eat it's because I WANT to, not because I need to. I would see and smell things that I really wanted, but had to make the choice not to eat them. I still had to cook for my kids (throwing away instead of eating their leftovers was difficult). I had company come in from out of town that I cooked for. Yet even this became easier over time. The focus changes to thinking of others first and serving them, knowing that I won't benefit by getting to eat the food also.
Emotionally, there were a few days I would have thrown in the towel if it had been merely a diet. My hormones were acting up and I wanted some chocolate or a cappachino badly. I am an emotional eater, and not being able to comfort myself that way was hard. I really wanted to quit, but I had made this commitment to God, and I knew I had to be faithful to that.
Spiritually, this has been good for me. I didn't choose to fast because these was a major challenge in my life that I needed to hear from God about. I don't expect him to reward me in some way. I simply wanted to show Him that I love Him more than I love food. It was an offering. In the Daniel Fast book, Susan Gregory says "Are we willing to do what Daniel did in order to have what Daniel had?...Daniel didn't start cramming his heart with Scriptures when he found out he was going to be thrown in the lions' den. And he didn't sit inside the cave crying and begging God to save him. No, Daniel had the faith he needed before his enemies ever started conspiring against him. He had his armor on - and he kept it on all the time." I know that troubles will arise in my life and I simply want to build my faith through spiritual disciplines so that I will already be prepared when they do.
While I'm no expert, I certainly have learned a lot about fasting this past month, especially with my husband doing the juice fast. (Maybe I can talk him into doing a guest post about his experience soon!) I am also very thankful for the varieties of food God has made available to us, that I am now able to enjoy!!!
"For the world offers only the lust for physical pleasure, the lust for everything we see, and pride in our possessions. These are not from the Father. They are from this evil world. And this world is fading away, along with everything it craves." - 1 John 2:16-17