I ended my fast on Maundy Thursday – not the traditional end of Lent, but it was the time that was right for me. I wanted to celebrate a Maunday Thursday dinner with my family and friends, and while cooking and praying about exactly what was okay for me to eat, I clearly felt that continuing to fast over that day would be more about me that about Jesus, so I stopped my fast. (Funny, I walways knew I’d end on Thursday and not on Sunday.)
Overall, my fast went well. I broke the Daniel Fast hugely once by eating meat at a Mission’s Dinner (I felt that it’d be to the detriment of the group to abstain), and there were several other minor rule infractions (which were basically having balsamic dressing on my salads when I went out to eat with people, and occasionally having some preservatives in food like tomatoes or beans, because it was insanity to avoid it in certain situations).
The first few days were hard because I didn’t really know what to eat, but I ended up getting the hang of it pretty quickly. I set up a pinterest board for Daniel Fast food (note, there are a lot of “Daniel Fast recipes” with honey or date sugar – NOT OKAY! It’s no precious foods, which includes honey, so those recipes are totally not okay if you are following the strict fast.). I found that Trader Joes was A-MAZ-ING. I could buy soups, beans, tortillas (and of course the fresh stuff) without any preservatives in it. My favorite things were potatoes coated in olive oil and baked and refried beans layered with bell peppers and tomatoes (simple 7-layer dip) with baked tortillas to make chips. Then I figured out I could make guacamole and I was in heaven. Drinking water was fabulous. When I craved sweet things, I made sorbets in my Vitamix or ate fresh berries. I ate a lot of nuts and peanut butter with apples and bananas. I discovered oatmeal with flaxseed, chia seed and bananas (best power breakfast ever!). I did find that salads did not work at all, which is what I expected to survive off of – I got bored of olive oil and vinegar REAL quick.
I did have a bit of troubles with potlucks, visiting friends, and eating out. I (frankly) showed up late to the potluck so no one would notice me avoiding the food, asked for water at friends houses (and ate nuts and fruit when provided), and when eating out, stuck with fajitas and beans (probably had some preservatives, but best I could do, salads (with oil and vinegar or balsamic – a slight cheat), or “bowl” type food.” While for the most part I did try to adhere to not telling anyone I was fasting, there were a few people I told: 1) my husband (duh), 2) my daughter (who is 4), 3) one of my best friends, who constantly brings me food, and both my parents and in-laws. While I didn’t intend to tell either sets of parents, it was necessary for the amount of meals I spend around them. I decided to fully explain to my daughter as a way of demonstration, and I needed to tell my friend for practical reasons. I later told two other close friends for purposes of discussing fasting and lent.
Overall, there has been a dramatic improvement in my prayer life. This has had a lasting effect (even a month later – noted on 5/13)! I find that when I don’t know what to think or when I have a problem, I defaulted to prayer, rather than practical solutions. Generally, when you are hungry, you eat. But when you are unable to do so for more than a month, you start to think differently. When I replaced the hunger with prayer – every time I felt hungry, I tried to pray instead, I found that I became accustomed to it. In fact, when I injured myself or had other problems that I’d typically solve myself (especially if there was delayed gratification involved), I found it quite easy to be content with prayer, whereas before my fast I’d be impatient or angry.
In general, I’ve felt better overall after. I’ve felt healthier and more aware of things – more at peace, and more whole: aligned in body and spirit. I returned to eating meat, dairy and sugar and within a few days, I felt ill and run down again. I keep telling myself I need to return to at least partially observing the rules of the Daniel Fast (likely it was the no sugar) because I felt so so much better. In fact, one of the lasting effects is that I haven’t been interested in soda, tea, lemonade, etc. The fast effectively killed my desire for flavored beverages, except in extremely small quantities.
I know that I will definitely fast again, and definitely do the Daniel fast as well. It’s been nothing but a blessing and a growing experience for me, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. I do recommend having a few people to talk about it with (or even to do it with you!) because it’s something that it hard to do alone without prayer – not just your prayer, but the prayer of friends covering you.