The Daniel Diet is a popular diet based on the account of Daniel in the Bible. It is also known as the Daniel Fast. It breaks away from fast foods, processed foods, and meat. What does that leave? A diet rich in vegetables and fruits.
The Story of Daniel
In the time of Daniel, Jerusalem was taken over by Babylon. The king of Babylon at that time was Nebuchadnezzer. He captured the king of Judah, carried off vessels from the house of God, and ordered some of the young sons of Israel to be brought to Babylon. This included some members of the royal family and of nobles.
These young men served in the king's court and were taught the Chaldean ways and language. As part of their keep, the king provided a daily ration from his choice food and wines. Along with the king's food, they were to be educated for three years to prepare them to serve the king personally. Daniel and three of his friends were part of this group of captives.
Daniel decided he would not defile himself by eating the king's food or drinking his wine. He talked about it with the commander who oversaw their care. The commander feared that if Daniel did not eat according to the king's decree, his appearance would be haggard compared to the others. The commander could lose his head for such an offense. To ease the commander's concerns, Daniel suggested a test for 10 days. “Please test your servants for ten days, and let us be given some vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance be observed in your presence and the appearance of the youths who are eating the king’s choice food; and deal with your servants according to what you see” (Dan. 1:12-13) (NASV).
The commander agreed to the test and 10 days later, Daniel and his friends looked healthier than those who had been fed the king's choice menu. The overseer continued to feed them their vegetable diet. When the time came for Daniel and his friends to be presented to Nebuchadnezzar, the king "found them 10 times better than all the magicians and conjurers who were in all his realm" (Dan. 1:20).
Foods to Eat on the Daniel Diet
Our 21st century diets offer more choice foods than ever before. The Daniel Diet takes a step away from all that and returns to a simple diet of vegetables and fruits. It is considered a partial fast.
Exactly what foods can or cannot be eaten is debated among proponents of the Daniel Diet. Some want to limit foods to strictly vegetables, while others include fruit, seeds and nuts. Some even consume vegetarian meat substitute products. The following lists take the broader approach to what foods can be eaten:
Fruits (fresh, frozen, canned, or juiced)
Vegetables (fresh, frozen, dried, canned or juiced)
lettuce (darker green is better)
peppers (all varieties)
squash (all varieties)
Water and Other Foods Permitted
- Water is the beverage of choice on the Daniel Diet. This water should be pure, filtered, spring water or distilled water. Other foods permitted include:
- Legumes such as beans, lentils, kidney beans, black beans, navy beans, etc.
- Quality vegetable oils (olive, grape seed, sesame)
- Whole grains - some like to include products like whole grain pasta while purists do not allow processed foods at all.
- Nuts and seeds
Some dieters allow for soy products such as tofu as well as seasonings like salt, herbs, vinegar, and spices. Others add protein powders to the diet.
What Not to Eat
While I've concentrated on what you should eat, it becomes clear quickly that the Daniel Diet doesn't contain meat, sweeteners, or processed foods. For a fast, it allows a wide selection of foods. This is not meant to be a weight loss diet, but it does usually result in weight loss as a positive side effect.
If you're considering the Daniel Diet or fast, be sure to talk to your doctor first to be sure it is a smart choice for you.
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