You recently began the Daniel Fast, but now you’re feeling sick. Your head is pounding, you’re tired, and you’re even a little bit nauseous.
Can the Daniel Fast make you sick? In short, yes, it can make you feel like you’re sick. As you go without caffeine, sugar, and processed foods, you may experience withdrawals. Because of this, you may feel sick for a couple days, but it will subside as your body adjusts to the fast.
Let’s take a deeper look at why this happens and how to get through those first few days with the least amount of discomfort.
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Can the Daniel Fast Make You Sick?
“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and he shall lift you up.” James 4:10
The early Church fasted and prayed regularly after they received the power of the Holy Spirit because there was a constant battle between the carnal and the spiritual.
The Bible tells us that “…we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).
Fast forward more than 2,000 years later and things haven’t changed so much. There is still a constant wrestling between the physical and the spiritual realm, and it becomes evident in our flesh when we commit to a fast.
So, if there is a war raging around us…
- How do we combat it?
- How do we fight?
- How do we stay strong and overcome?
The Apostle Paul said he “died daily,” meaning he presented himself a living sacrifice to the Lord EVERY DAY. He realized he didn’t have the strength alone but with the power of God brought on by prayer and fasting, he could do all things!
Fasting Isn’t Easy! Not Even The Daniel Fast
Fasting kills our inner man; it changes us. We see things from God’s perspective; He puts His desires within us when we push back that plate and put Him first.
Fasting wasn’t meant to be easy, it was meant to be a sacrifice. A laying down of our will so that we can become like Jesus. But… this God-given method comes with its own physical challenges and one of them is the negative reaction you will get from your own body when you begin any fast.
You may think if you are on the Daniel Fast that you won’t be affected since you are not actually going completely without food. But you are eliminating many things from your diet that your body is used to consuming every day and you may have physical reactions as toxins leave your body.
Drinking Water During Your Fast
It is important to note that you must drink plenty of water, no matter what kind of fast you are partaking in. It will flush the aforementioned toxins from your body as you deny yourself things that you love that may not have been so good for you.
As you go without caffeine, sugar and processed foods, you may experience withdrawals and your body is not going to be happy. The first day or so you may have stomach issues as impurities are washed out of your body. This will subside quickly. Try to keep your meals simple, remembering it is a fast, not a fancy diet.
Your gut will start to go through a healing process but it might grumble a bit along the way.
Caffeine is such a part of our diet that going sometimes just a few hours without it will cause headaches and maybe even nervousness and shaking. The headaches shouldn’t last more than a couple of days unless you consume more than most.
Gradually reducing caffeine intake before your fast
A good way to possibly ease the withdrawal would be to gradually begin to cut back your caffeine consumption the week before your fast. Decrease your caffeine intake a little each day leading up to it.
For instance, if you normally have two cups of coffee, go down to one. If you drink five or six sodas each day, cut one or two out every day until you get down to NONE. That will help the severity of your headaches and even the nervousness that comes from a caffeine withdrawal.
Caffeine withdrawal may keep you from getting enough sleep
Denying your body its beloved caffeine can also cause insomnia. We all know we need our sleep! Try to get plenty of rest, even those first few days when you are jittery and feel as if you cannot sleep, there is one remedy that works every time: prayer.
God sees you; He knows you need your rest while you fast and if you lean on Him, He will come to your rescue!
Prayer and scripture reading before bedtime truly helps calm the mind and the body and prepares us for sleep. Ask the Lord to strengthen you and give you rest. Read the Psalms and even listening to The Word being read can bring such peace and serenity to your mind that you will be asleep in no time.
A good night’s sleep will go a long way in helping the body refresh itself as it begins to wean off of processed foods and additives.
Using pain relievers
Sometimes you may need an over the counter pain reliever, especially if you have really bad headaches and are trying to work. This is acceptable for most people during the Daniel Fast.
If you have time to lie down for a little while, a cold compress to the forehead also feels wonderful and is very soothing. Again, the headaches shouldn’t last long and the benefits are your reward!
We love sugar! And sugar loves us but that doesn’t mean it is a good thing. When you begin the Daniel Fast and eliminate white sugar from your diet, your body is going to want to know what in the world you are thinking.
You will likely first have sugar cravings, then a headache, followed possibly by mood swings, fatigue, anxiety and maybe even body aches. You want something sweet and you are just a little aggravated that you have embarked on this crazy thing called a fast.
But… if you can get through these withdrawal symptoms, which do not last but a day or two, depending on how much sugar you are used to consuming, you will come out victorious in so many ways!
Eating more snacks
You can eat healthy snacks such as fresh vegetables or nuts to help replace the sugar-laden choices you would normally make. Sometimes having something salty to eat helps a bit. Try some of the ideas on our list of Daniel Fast snacks. By the third day, if not sooner, you will begin to feel so much better.
Curbing your sweet tooth
There are many desserts that are Daniel Fast approved. While they don’t have processed sugars or be quite what you’re used to, their natural sweetness may still help give you a bit of relief. Try enjoying fresh fruits, especially grapes, since they tend to have a higher sugar content. Be sure to check out our list of favorite Daniel Fast desserts, too.
Drinking more water
As with a caffeine withdrawal, it’s important to drink plenty of water during your fast. It’s especially helpful the first few days while your body is adjusting to going without sugar, and can help you recover more quickly.
This all can seem overwhelming, but keep in mind not everyone will experience every symptom. We are all different and our former diets are different. So, if you’re wondering, “Can the Daniel Fast make you sick?” then the short answer is that it can make you feel like you’re sick.
As with any fast, consult your doctor if you have underlying health issues. Most physicians will be thrilled because they know that your body will also experience positive results. If you are a diabetic, you will most likely see your numbers go down while on the fast. Your cholesterol will probably decrease as well.
As the fast progresses and you get past the withdrawals, you will have more energy, will sleep better, and feel better all the way around. You may also lose weight! Of course you are not approaching it as a diet but your body is going to react to all of the good things it is being fed and it will respond in kind.
The body’s ability to cleanse itself truly is a healing process which brings fantastic results.
But even better than all of that? You will draw closer to God, hear His voice more clearly and be more sensitive to the needs of others around you.
Remember, prayer must accompany fasting and when you push away from things that you think you cannot do without, God will honor it and you will become consumed with HIM instead of food.
Be blessed as you fast unto the Lord.
This post “Can the Daniel Fast Make You Sick?” was written in conjunction with our guest contributor, Nannette Elkins. Nannette has served as a pastor’s wife, missionary, speaker, and teacher. She is the author of The Daniel Fast Devotional: A 21 Day Journey of Faith, available on Amazon. Click here to check the current price.
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FREE MEAL PLAN
See an example of what our family’s Daniel Fast meal plan looks like in a typical week.