My daughters, husband and I are doing something we haven't done before - fasting. For 21-days, starting tomorrow, we are going to deny ourselves the things we really like the most (they all slightly rhyme)- cheese, meats, sweets, wheat, treats and a host of other little things. (Yikes! Did I mention no chocolate or coffee?) We are gingerly attempting the Daniel Fast, a 21-day, Biblical approach to the denial of "choice foods, meats and animal by-products" as suggested in the Holy Scripture in Daniel.
Why are we doing this?
For one, our church leaders suggested it. As a church, we are all embarking on a fasting journey hoping to generate regeneration in our church family. Two, as a family we are asking for a spiritual, physical, emotional, physical and mental jump-start. Three, I want to focus on a larger cooking variety, eating cleaner, back-to-basic foods, and tending to my family more than I have in the past. Finally, we are desiring the Lord more than we want cheese and chocolate - and other things that have become our normal ways of life. My sixteen year old said "when I get hungry, I am going to write a prayer request on a notecard, and focus on that until the hunger pangs die down." While I have obstained from things in the past (caffeine, chocolate, Facebook), I haven't ever done a strict food-forbidden fast before. This is a really a new experience. And my whole household is embarking with me.
Why does it feel like we are standing on the edge of cliff?
In her book, "The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast," Kristen Feola writes about the many advantages of fasting and ways to really enhance your fasting experience. She guides you through the oxymoron of fasting. Fasting empowers us while enabling us to be dependent on God. Fasting is about food and fasting is not about food. Fasting is about you and fasting is not about you. Fasting is a battle and fasting is about getting the victory. And first and foremost – fasting is about Jesus and will be life-altering if we fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfector of our faith (pages 19-22).
We feel as if we are getting our hearts ready, now we need to commit our heads as well. We started by cleaning out the fridge and the pantry. We found a big box and labeled it “forbidden.” We put all the things we truly love eating in that box. Foods in the fridge that are now off limits we tucked in the corner and covered with red tissue paper signifying “stop!”
So let the Fast begin.
And now the sequel…
We completed the 21-day fast. We survived. Really. More than surviving, we were thriving! And now that it is done my husband and I can honestly say, “w e w e r e f e a s t i n g w h i l e f a s t i n g .” My husband agreed that he never felt better. My headaches were virtually non-existent. (Hard to say if it was the Daniel Fast and the absence of caffeine and chocolate or dairy OR MyPillow.Com pillow that I received for Christmas!) We feel stronger, clearer, more intentional and above all – experienced the promised “fast forwarding” that fasting brings. The results were undeniable. Events, conversations, appointments, ideas were plentiful and it seemed that everyday there was a deluge of heavenly blessings.
Healing happens at the table of the Lord!
We found Jesus in the Fast and learned He is the Lord of the Feast!
We spent quality time together cooking, baking, trying new recipes. We encouraged one another and really cared how each other were faring along the way. It was an incredible family experience.
And now that it is over, what do we do next? Did we learn anything about ourselves or our three-times-a-day routine? Yes, we did. Here’s a few “take-aways” from the fast, which have now become apart of our health and wellness lifestyle:
1) Vegetables are the main part of the meal. Repeat – vegetables are the main part of the meal. We have had zucchini and squash-spaghetti which are now a family favorite instead of pasta. That says something coming from an Italian!
2) Fruit and nuts and seeds are now a main stay for breakfast and snacks instead of cheese, cheese, and more cheese.
3) The three ABCs of brain-health are avocado, beets (either juice or pickled), and coconut oil/products. We are putting these three things in many things!
4) Drinking spring water first thing in the morning and throughout the day is essential.
5) Deliberately cutting out all “added sugar” as much as humanly possible. This really is the silent killer and seems to be in everything! This takes work but there are granolas without sugar and peanut butters without sugar. This does not suggest going “sugar-free” which is a chemical alternative. This means going without.
6) Popcorn and baked chips with salsa are the go-to snacks.
7) We can eat a whole lot less than we thought and still be plenty full and satisfied.
8) Smoothies with almond/coconut milk are really good and good for you.
9) Date honey is the best replacement for a sweetener.
10) We absolutely need meat and eggs as protein sources. Beans do not cut it.
11) Kale, brussel sprouts, spinach, asparagus, broccoli, green beans and green peppers are all must-haves on the shopping list.
12) Cheese and chocolate and coffee are good. They are feel good foods – and I really like them. Plus, I am in love with alliteration, so it works for me!
And the list goes on as we discover and try new ideas. I just made a smoothie today: coffee (fair-trade, Columbian), almond/coconut milk, hemp seeds, cinnamon, and one banana. All I can say is “more please!”
It’s just another way that once again, God’s ideas of clean eating and living, as described in the Bible and especially the Daniel Fast, allow His People to feast while fasting. There is peace, grace and healing at the Table of the Lord.
Enjoy this amazing Chris Tomlin song with video sounds and sights of the “Table of the Lord!”
Come and feast friends.