When I think of fasting, two things come to mind, giving up something I love or an act for a purposeful reset. When I ask my friends about the idea of fasting, a couple of reactions follow, “Oh, I had to fast for a medical test…” or “…do you mean like for Lent?”
Fasting, in most cases, is extreme, challenging, and not meant for an extended period of time. It can affect a person both personally and those around them in many ways. It can be powerful, life changing, and in some cases even world altering. Consider for an example, that Ghandi used fasting as a political means to protest against the British.
Fasting is a tool with a specific purpose.
My point is that fasting is typically recognized as a tool with a specific purpose. When this topic came up on our recent podcast with Dr. James Thompson, I became intrigued with the idea of using a fast as a launching point for improving eating habits related to diabetes management.
long term food changes after a more restrictive fast, now that’s an interesting idea.
When attempting diet changes, many people either take massive, extreme measures that in most cases don’t last, or they make small changes that can be deceivingly successful in the short term. It can be easy to fall back into old habits when all you’ve done is take away things from yourself during a diet. But, long term food changes after a more restrictive fast, now that’s an interesting idea.
After a specific amount of time where you gave up so much, you are now giving back to yourself some of the foods that you loved pre-fast. What may have been seemingly harsh changes do not seem quite so drastic because you have the experience of giving up even more during your fast.
His addictions were gone
The benefits of fasting are rooted in the idea that by committing to some temporary, extreme changes where you give up far more than you want or may need to long term, you appreciate those things when you can have them again. Additionally, you may not want some of those “bad” foods any longer. Dr. Thompson told us that he lost his taste for many unhealthy foods after his fast because, in part, his addictions were gone, but he also felt better. This is where the hidden power of fasting comes into focus.
By eliminating more than you need to for a short specific amount of time, afterwards, you can now give yourself back some of the foods and choices that you went without during the fast. Your ideal way of eating may actually seem easier because its less restrictive than the fast you just completed.
The very popular Daniel Fast
The Daniel Fast has been used by many people for hundreds of years, particularly by those of the Christian faith. Because this fast is Biblical in origin, it has a unique ability for many people to be successful because their reasons for starting the fast may include bigger reasons than simply wanting to be healthier. These can include: a closer connection with God, their church and even their community. All are very powerful motivators that are much greater than simply eating better.
To better understand the Daniel Fast we reached out to Kristen Feola, author of several books including “The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast”. We had the pleasure of having Kristin on our podcast where she shared some advice and a few of the points about the Fast highlighted below.
Kristen Feola and her story
Kristen started her first Daniel Fast in 2009 through her church. During the fast she began journaling and sharing her experience with others. This lead to her book, “The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast”, a website and a large community of others looking for support, education and connection.
Origins of the Daniel Fast
The Daniel Fast dates back to the origins of the Bible, some consider as early as 450 BC. The first mention of Daniel fasting was when he decided to not eat foods considered to be off limits by Jewish law. So Daniel chose to eat only vegetables and water. Fearing for his health, a guard charged with managing for Daniels care, questioned his choice.
Daniel relented and decided that a short test of the diet would be warranted. This test was only 10 days, and to everyones surprise after 10 days, there were improvements in Daniels physical and mental health and his appearance. Years later Daniel again fasted, this time for three weeks. This three week fast became the basis for what we now know today as the modern Daniel Fast.
The fast in modern times
Today, this fast is a popular weight loss method particularly in the Christian faith. It limits food choices to whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans and nuts and seeds. Foods that are off-limits include meat, processed foods, preservatives, sweeteners, caffeine and products made with white flour.
How to prepare for the fast expected side effects
Kristin has been practicing variations of the fast annually since 2009. Today, she leads an online Daniel Fast which has been incredibly popular at the beginning of each year. She prepares for the fast by taking supplements and digestive enzymes to minimize the effects the fast can have on your body such as digestive discomfort, headaches and lethargy.
When one considers the standard American diet that is low fiber, high sugar, high carbohydrate and high in salt, the Fast can be can be disruptive, uncomfortable and even painful, particularly in the first week. If you drink coffee as an example, you should anticipate caffeine withdrawals, and the increase in fiber may have an effect on on your digestive system.
It’s critically important that if you’re considering doing a fast or a diet change of any kind to consult your doctor and medical professionals for the advice given for your individual medical condition. If you were on medical prescriptions, living with a chronic condition like diabetes or other considerations that have a direct relationship with diet and digestion seek advice before starting any diet or fast.
Room for modification
A few additional things to consider with any fast or diet change would be to follow your conscience. Kristin states, that there’s room for modification with the fast. Modification can include the length of time that you’re on your fast, the foods you give up and the use of even relievers to support you through the process.
Mood swings and support
Kristen cautions one to “expect to be uncomfortable, moody and challenged”. If you’ve been eating a certain way for many years, a sudden change in your diet could be traumatic. The effects on your mood or personality or energy levels can be extreme and unexpected.
“I recommend doing the fast with someone like your family, friends or even our online community.” Kristen says.
Therefore it’s important to have a support system. “I recommend doing the fast with someone like your family, friends or even our online community.” Kristen says.
Be open and honest
We asked Kristen her advice regarding those families where some members of the family may not be fasting or supportive. “…Be transparent with those that may be impacted by your fasting, [they will], be going through the fast with you (and be impacted) as you fast.”
At the time of this writing, we are still living with COVID-19, related lockdowns and limitations relating to social distancing and being safe. Be mindful of these restrictions and considerations before starting the fast. Forethought and considering your needs and resources available in the worst case scenario is important to remember. Better to be safe than sorry.
Testimonial success with Type 2 diabetes
While not touted as a medical regimen, the Daniel Fast has been credited for successful type 2 diabetes management. Kristin has received many testimonials from her community where they have seen dramatic improvements in their diabetes symptoms and blood sugar levels as a result of being on the fast. The Daniel Fast may be too extreme for many long term, but there is certainly compelling evidence suggesting that being more plant-based and restricting processed foods, carbohydrates, sugars, caffeine have very positive effects on diabetes.
Is fasting worth it?
With these considerations in mind, Kristen says that “”Fasting is completely worth it.”” Not only has she seen her life completely changed from a health perspective, but she has also benefited from a greater sense of community, a deeper spiritual relationship with God and the opportunity to have helped so many others through her books and website.
Where to follow Kristen and her work
If you’re interested in finding out more about the Daniel Fast and Kristen’s work, please listen to our podcast. You can find all of her information on her website www.ultimatedanielfast.com. Below are links where you can buy her book on Amazon and your purchase helps support this website and the work we’re doing for the diabetes community.
Where to find Kristen:
Buy her book here:
The ultimate guide to the Daniel Fast at Amazon
Follow Kristen below at:
Where to find us at DiabeticSAVVY, LLC