Recently I participated in a study of the Old Testament book of Daniel. Probably the most prophetic of all Old Testament books, Daniel is full of insight into Jewish customs, Middle Eastern history and some of the most important of all Biblical characters.
For the first six weeks of the 12-week study, attendees were encouraged to give something up. Daniel, after being taken captive in his native Jerusalem and transported to Babylon, refused to eat the food King Nebuchadnezzar provided. Instead he asked for permission to eat only foods that we would call “healthy” today.
For six weeks, I gave up caffeinated soda.
While I definitely have a thing for food and it is true that my once-lighting-quick-because-of-genetics metabolism is starting to slow down, I don’t take issue with my weight. In that regard, I guess I’m lucky. Some people would ask why I worry about my food intake if it doesn’t end up on my hips. That’s probably the reason why I’m worried.
Thanks to good genes I can maintain a certain size while eating unhealthy food in unhealthy quantities. BUT (!) I am turning to food when I’m happy, sad, excited, nervous, stressed, insert any emotion here, and am able to hide it. I’ve spent a lot of time processing this lately and I recognize this food thing has been a problem since childhood.
I’d count down the hours on a Friday until I could walk to the corner market and stock up on copious amounts of Lemon Heads, Boston Baked Beans (the candy kind) and Snickers bars so that I’d have something to eat while watching NKOTB on Arsenio Hall (don’t judge me).
In elementary school I was known as the girl who ate pickles at the park. Seriously, I’d buy a jar of pickles on the walk home from the bus stop and be done with them by the time I hit my front door. Then I’d drink the juice.
One day after school when I was about 10 I made cookie dough (obviously I was home alone, a lot). I was so happy to have this giant ball of fat and sugar that I threw it up in the air in a fit of joy and it stuck to the vaulted ceiling. I was distraught. I had to use a broom to knock it down, where it landed on the carpet; I promptly picked it up and ate it.
A few days ago I had an entire loaf of Hawaiian bread for dinner. This morning, I was putting stuff in the recycling can and saw the wrapper. I noticed a piece of bread inside that I’d missed. Again, yes, I ate it. It was the recycling can! I put pull-ups in the other can.
I have dozens of stories like this.
Which brings me to today.
I’ve been gearing up, planning and researching for several weeks now.
When a lot of people think of fasting, they think of someone going without food. They may also consider the person doing the fasting a little…weird.
People can fast from all sorts of things for all sorts of reasons. Like I mentioned before, I stopped drinking soda, I have friends who fast from Facebook, I’ve known people who went on a strictly liquid diet for 40 days; the practice of fasting runs the gamut.
The Daniel Fast is based on the idea that Daniel spent three weeks fasting from “choice food”- what most scholars consider alcohol, meat, bread and sweats- and praying. I fear this is where my non-Christian friends might start getting a little ooged out. Stick with me.
Basically, John and I will be on a vegan diet, We’re not eating refined sugars or any processed foods either. We’re eating fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains and quality oils. We can also use spices, almond milk, soy products and tofu. We (“I,” since my husband is so good at this already) will also spend more intentional time praying for various things in our lives. My list includes things like my daughter’s struggle with math, the health of our church, the ministry I volunteer with, this blog, my job, my attitude, etc.
It’s important to me that my blog posts are funny. Trust me, taking bread and chai tea away from me will produce some epic hilarity…for everyone else.
(Warning! Warning!) I’m pretty even-keeled, unless I’m tired or hungry. I’m almost positive the only time my husband has had the impulse to shoot me with a tranquilizer gun is when I’ve been overly-hungry.
The good news is, with the right planning, I shouldn’t be hungry on this meal plan. You can see by the picture below that there are a ton of things we can eat.
That doesn’t mean this is going to be easy though. It’s probably going to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Remember, I have a very unhealthy relationship with food.
I can’t tell you all how hard forgoing my morning cup of vanilla chai is going to be.
You can see from the picture of the foods I typically eat though, that I’m only improving my diet with the Daniel Fast.
Here are the commitments I’m making for my Daniel Fast:
1. I am going to follow the guidelines.
2. I am not going to complain about being hungry because if I plan and stay organized, I’ll have plenty of food options on hand. Plus, complaining defeats the purpose of the whole process.
3. I’m going to spend more time in prayer and reading my Bible because participating in a fast without doing these things is just me on a diet.
4. I am not going to weigh myself during the fast. This isn’t about my weight.
5. I’ll try to post recipes that I did and didn’t like.
6. I will be brutally honest as I learn things about myself and my hang-ups.
7. I will blog funny about this.