Observant Jews traditionally fast on Yom Kippur, to focus bodies, minds, and spirits completely on repentance. But a new diet trend inspired by a prophet from the Tanakh proposes that religious fasts can benefit the waistline as well. Health experts, however, are skeptical of the long-term effects of the spiritual-inspired eating restrictions.
The Daniel Diet, sometimes called the God diet, is based on the Biblical story of Daniel. Daniel was a Jewish nobleman taken prisoner by the Babylonians, who attempted to make Daniel assimilate. He refused, and became a powerful adviser and interpreter of visions to the Babylonian rulers.
Several times in his story, Daniel refrains from certain foods for religious purposes. After first being captured, Daniel refuses to eat at table of Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar: “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank.” (1:8) Instead, he ate only vegetables, and grew strong.
A later chapter describes Daniel abstaining while seeking visions from God: “I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks.”
Daniel was also the beneficiary of others’ picky diets: he famously survived being thrown to the lions, who refused to eat him due to his purity, according to interpretation.
Olga Khazan at The Atlantic reports that American Protestants have used a 21-day “Daniel Fast,” a strict diet of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, as a spiritual cleanse for several years. But more recently, some have proposed it (or modified versions) as a year-round diet plan. A variation called “the Daniel plan” has been supported by influential evangelical Rick Warren at his Saddleback Church in California.
Susan Gregory, author of “The Daniel Fast,” describes it as “a vegan diet with even more restrictions,” including cutting out caffeine and sugar.
Nutritionist Zoe Harcombe applauded the plan for cutting out unhealthy and processed foods, but told the MailOnline that following the diet for more than a few days could cause vitamin deficiencies.A new diet fad is based on the Jewish Biblical figure Daniel.