I've always felt so deprived when dieting. I know; I'm ridiculous. But, always, in the back of my head, I've asked: when will it be appropriate for me to eat a piece of chocolate-on-chocolate cake as big as my head? I've remembered over and over: the answer's "never," and that's just ticked me off beyond your wildest imaginings.
I wrote more about it here, but I started the Daniel Fast because I looked at it as an opportunity to reset my eating habits, to start from scratch. I wondered if dieting has frustrated me because I've worked so hard to appease my sweet tooth (by limiting my portions of sugary foods, also by consuming mass quantities of sugar substitutes) and found, instead, that my sweet tooth grows until it's about to jut out of my mouth. I wondered what would happen if--for 21 days--I gave up not only sugar and sweeteners, but also dairy, meat, eggs, leavened and white breads, pasta, white flour: everything, basically, except fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and water.
Here's what happened. (You may receive some of this as TMI.)
- I expected the water-only thing to drive me crazy. Surprisingly, it may have been the easiest part of the fast, for me. I flavored it, generally, with True Lemon or True Lime (each packet of which consists only of a powdered fruit slice). In all fairness, I did end up drinking very small quantities of 1% milk because I found out I was pregnant after I started the fast. I plan to continue drinking only water and small quantities of 1% milk.
- I also expected the no-sugar/sweetener thing to drive me crazy. I had a killer headache the first day, and I believe it was a sugar-detox headache. After that, nothing. I really didn't even think about sugar, which proves to me that 1) sugar poisons me, 2) I can live without sugar, and 3) I'm better off to avoid sweet stuff altogether than to torture myself with sweeteners and small quantities of sugar; moving forward, that's my plan. Honey only.
- I got very hungry at mealtimes, but I didn't have to stay hungry. I just had to fix myself something Daniel-Fast friendly to eat. I discovered that tofu satisfied my hunger like none of the other appropriate foods but tried to limit my consumption of it to 3x/week.
- Within days of being on the Daniel Fast, the stiffness in my fingers went away. I don't even know what the stiffness in my fingers was, but it's gone.
- Within days of being on the Daniel Fast, my eyes felt less dry, like they were moving more freely around in my head. Also? I had a great deal more energy. (I'm feeling very tired, again, as of the last few days, but I think it's because the pregnancy's kicking in.) I'm pretty sure I was dehydrated.
- Within days of being on the Daniel Fast, I started--*cringe* I'm just going to say it!--having bowel movements once or twice a day instead of once or twice a week, which has been my body's pattern my entire life.
- I feel much more confident in the kitchen, now, when it comes to preparing healthy foods. I've experimented with soup, tofu-based smoothies, stir-fries, pizza (Yes: believe it or not, there's a way!), homemade hummus and salsa, homemade tortilla chips, and baked oatmeal. I will absolutely continue preparing these foods for my family.
- The hardest things, for me, were 1) eating out (I pretty much had to go the salad route!), and 2) no sandwiches. I guess I'd never realized how much I count on sandwiches.
So, it's too soon to say if the Daniel Fast has been a life-changing experience for me. I feel like it could be life-changing. I've absolutely stripped my diet down to the point that lunch meat and cheese on whole wheat sounds like an indulgence. Scrambled eggs and healthy cereal sound like indulgences. Wheat pasta sounds like an indulgence. Fish and shrimp sound like indulgences. (I allowed myself small quantities of chicken after finding out I was pregnant.) The hamburger I plan to eat tomorrow sounds like a HUGE indulgence!
Realistically, if I'm able to limit myself to eating red meat and white bread once a week, otherwise incorporating only healthy foods back into my diet, my life and health will change forever. Over the last 21 days, I've prayed consistently for this kind of strength.
Any prayers you offer up on my behalf will be dearly appreciated. I don't want to suffer with gestational diabetes during this pregnancy, and I'll be honest with you: I'm a little afraid. It was a terrible disease to navigate when I had only an eight- or nine-year-old son. I don't know how I would manage, now, with the little girls in addition to Cade. Furthermore, I don't think my husband will mind my saying: he struggles with his weight, too, and my choices in terms of what foods I prepare and bring into the home impact him tremendously.
For me, it had to be cold turkey on sugar and sweeteners...just like it had to be cold turkey on cigarettes. If there's any hope for me, it will come in this form: cold turkey, and with the help of Christ.
If you're interested in reading more about the Daniel Fast, you might check out this website, which was my primary resource for recipes. I loved every one I tried and have since ordered her [Kristen Feola's] cookbook. I found help at this website, too.