So this past Saturday I ended the 21 Day Daniel Fast that I started a few weeks back and I while it was glorious to enjoy a delicious cup of coffee yesterday morning after going so long without.
This fast was hard. There’s no way around it, especially for me, a total junk food junkie. The idea of going with no bread, sugar, dairy, meat and pretty much everything else I loved was daunting, but truly I felt in my heart that this was something I needed to do. So, here’s how it went:
The first week was actually OK, mainly because I was so sick. I came down with the awful cold/cough thing and so I wasn’t really hungry at all. I had to rest because my body was just incapable of doing too much else. And so after the caffeine withdrawal headaches the first few days, I felt like I was going to be alright.
Week two was much harder, after I recovered from being sick, I was SO hungry. I had fruit smoothies and salads but I craved heartier meals badly. I also went out to dinner a few times so some good restaurants and found myself wishing that I could order more than a salad.
It was during this time that doubts started to enter my mind. Maybe I just couldn’t do it, I wasn’t strong enough, and what if I just had one bite. . . and so on. But because I was doing the daily devotions and spending time daily in the word and in prayer I firmly believe the Lord sustained me and gave me strength to persevere. There was even one day I felt so good I thought I could actually go out for a run. . . and I SO don’t run people. Like ever.
The final week was OK. I was in the homestretch and there were still a few doubts but I was able to focus on finishing well.
Overall, I physically felt really good (other than the sickness week) and I had a lot more energy than usual. I tried foods that I didn’t normally eat and I honestly was amazed and how good and healthy I felt considering I was actually consuming very few calories. And an added bonus was that I lost about 6-7 pounds. But that was a bonus, not what the fast was about for me.
And going forward? Well, like I said I had coffee and some other good things this weekend but I am committed to continue to eliminate processed foods, sugar, etc. as much as possible from my diet and focus on eating more whole foods. Will I ever drink a coke again? Yes, I probably will but not every day, probably not even once a week; my drink of choice is now water.
So here’s what I learned from fasting:
- Food can be a huge distraction- I spent a lot of time pre-fast thinking about food, and I was a total emotional eater. It I was sad, bored, tired, depressed, I thought about food. During the fast my food choices were so limited that I didn’t really think about food all that much. I knew I could either snack on an apple or some plain, air-popped popcorn. Not terribly exciting so I found myself thinking about food much less and thus having more time to think about other more important things.
- I can really survive on less food than I think I need- before when I felt hungry, I thought I was starving and so needed to 1) eat something immediately and 2) eat a lot because clearly I was starving right? But NO. During this fast, I realized that I can not only survive but also be healthy and have energy with small, healthy meals and snacks. Who knew?
- Whole/natural foods can be really delicious- I mean I’ve always had fruit and veggies but when you’re limited to few food options, you realized just how delicious that fresh mango tastes. Or how wonderful and artichoke can be.
- His grace is sufficient- how else can I put this? When I felt like I was going to fail, when I thought I had to have sugar or meat or a piece of cheese, I didn’t. Not because I didn’t want to but because I prayed earnestly that God would sustain me, I needed Him to be enough and He absolutely is.
What I suggest if you’re thinking of fasting:
- Follow a book or website guide of some sort- I followed the Ultimate Daniel Fast book and so was able to read the devotions and have recipes available and also receive encouraging emails daily through the web site. There are other books and web sites available that can be great sources of information and support.
- Get off of caffeine a few days early: I highly encourage that you wean yourself off from coffee or other caffeinated beverages before starting a fast; it will make the transition smoother.
- Get friends and family to support you- find some support. Maybe your spouse or friend would consider doing a fast with you? Having accountability would be a great help. Even if no one else wants to join you in the fast, enlist friends and family members to be praying for you during this time. I promise, knowing that there are others who are covering you in prayer and supporting you on your journey will make a huge difference in your fast.
- Keep a journal- maybe you are looking for breakthrough in specific areas of your life during a fast or you might be looking for answers for prayers. Write them down, write out your prayers and petitions, and write out what you hear the Lord speaking to you. Then later you can look back and see specific examples of His faithfulness.
I highly recommend considering a fast, if not food then perhaps other areas of life that may be distractions. I am confident that fasting from such things for a period of time will lead to breakthrough and simplify life in many ways.