What Is the Daniel Fast and Is It Healthy? Here's What a Dietitian Says

Here's what you need to know about the Daniel Fast.

How to Make Quinoa-Avocado Salad

Following a diet or participating in a fast is often done with a weight-loss or health goal in mind. But for many, certain dietary practices and restrictions serve more of a spiritual purpose than a health purpose.

Religious-based fasts and faith-based dietary restrictions are not new concepts by any means. From Jewish people avoiding pork products to those of the Hindu faith practicing a vegetarian lifestyle, eating in certain ways is one common religious practice that unifies, allows for reflection and helps people connect. And although some faith-based ways of eating have been practiced for centuries, certain practices have develop in recent years too, as people explore various ways to find a spiritual connection based on interpretations and trends.

The Daniel Fast is a newer way of eating that is steeped in faith and promises to help people become more devoted to their religion. Read on to learn more about the Daniel Fast rules.

Pictured Recipe: Quinoa Avocado Salad

What Is the Daniel Fast?

Based on principles found in the Torah or Old Testament's Book of Daniel, the Daniel Fast is one that resembles the way Daniel ate during certain points of his life, and following it may help people feel more vigor, experience better health, and feel a greater connection to their faith.

According to the Book of Daniel, he practiced the concept of fasting two times during his life. And during other periods, he refrained from eating certain foods due to his beliefs and messages that he was trying to convey.

Per Daniel 10:3, Daniel said, "I ate no savory food, took no meat or wine, and did not anoint myself at all until the end of the three weeks," meaning that he avoided foods like bread, meat and wine, as he felt these foods would "defile" him. Other sections suggest that he said to test God's servants for 10 days on a diet of vegetables and water.

Using Daniel's words as guidelines, those who adopt the Daniel Fast don't refrain from eating (as most fasts dictate). Instead, they eat essentially a plant-based diet and other foods that Daniel ate during his lifetime. Foods like meat, wine and bread are avoided, while nutrient-dense and minimally processed foods are enjoyed for 21 days.

Daniel Fast Food List

Following the Daniel Fast means that you will be eating a plant-based diet that limits certain foods and all drinks except for water for 21 days. While this may sound daunting for some, finding foods to nourish your body while following these guidelines can be quite simple with a little effort.

For people who are following the Daniel Fast, here are some foods that are included:


Any fresh, frozen or dried fruit with no added sugars. Some choices include apples, berries, bananas, oranges, dates and grapes.


Starchy and nonstarchy vegetables with no added salt or preservatives. Fresh, frozen and canned vegetables are all permitted. Some choices include asparagus, celery, carrots, lettuce, beets and potatoes.

Nuts and Legumes

Nuts and seeds are all permitted on the Daniel Fast, including peanuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds and nut butter. Soy products with no preservatives or additives (like edamame) are also allowed.

Beans and Peas

Canned or dried beans or peas with no added salt are permitted.

Whole Grains

Unleavened bread and minimally processed whole grains are permitted, like sorghum, quinoa, brown rice, millet and spelt. Whole-grain bread and whole-grain pasta are not permitted on the Daniel Fast, as they are leavened.

Healthy Fats

Healthy fats can be enjoyed in moderation. Olive, avocado, canola, grapeseed and other healthy oils are all permitted.

Herbs and Spices

Herbs and spices like basil, cinnamon and other calorie-free and salt-free choices can be used to enhance meals. Salt is permitted in moderation.


Only water is an approved beverage on the Daniel Fast. No alcohol, tea, coffee, juice or soda is consumed.

What to Avoid

Of course, some foods are not permitted when following the Daniel Fast. Animal products (including dairy), sugars and alcohol are all completely avoided when following this spiritual dietary pattern. Leavened bread, like sandwich bread, crackers and wraps, is not permitted on this diet either.

And while many trendy vegan food options may help fill your need for chicken nuggets or cheeseburgers when avoiding animal products, these foods are typically not enjoyed when embarking on this fast, as the goal is to eat foods in their most minimally processed form. Instead, people can get their protein fill by eating nuts, seeds, grains, edamame and other similar plant-based and minimally processed choices.

Sample Daniel Fast Menu

Unlike some popular diets out there, following the Daniel Fast doesn't require complicated recipes or caveats. As long as you are sticking to whole foods and avoiding the small list of items that are not permitted, you can quite easily adopt this way of eating for 21 days.

Here is a sample menu with meals and snacks that can fill your plate for an entire day following the Daniel Fast:


A.M. Snack

  • Apple
  • 8 pecan halves
  • Water



  • 3 pitted Medjool dates stuffed with walnut butter
  • Water


The Bottom Line: Is the Daniel Fast Something You Should Try?

If you are a Christian or Jewish person who is looking for a way to feel a stronger connection to your faith or if you want to express your devotion through food, the Daniel Fast may be something to explore. While it is not meant to be a diet for weight loss, heart health or other positive health outcomes due to its short duration, people may feel better after embarking on their Daniel Fast journey as a secondary benefit. However, these effects may not be long-lasting once a person goes back to their old dietary habits.

As a short-term way of eating, this diet appears to be safe for a healthy adult who does not have any underlying medical conditions. Following a plant-based diet is linked to many health benefits, and avoiding foods like refined sweets, wine and fatty meats is something that many people could also benefit from.

Although following this fast appears safe for most people, certain groups may not be the best candidates. Older adults, children, pregnant people and people with diabetes should not follow this diet unless they get the explicit green light from their health care provider.

Ultimately, as spirituality and religion have been identified as important determinants of health and longevity for adults, per a 2020 review published in the Journal of Holistic Nursing, finding any way to connect to your faith may help you live a healthier life in the long run. And if following the Daniel Fast for 21 days helps you feel more connected, then it may be worth exploring.

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