Monday, February 17, 2014

Daniel Fast Day 14 & 15: Surviving Antipasto & Some Stats

Day 14 (Sunday)
Today’s Devotion: “I Shall Not Want - Psalms 23:1-6 ‘The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.’
I shall not want. Want in this verse means ‘to lack, be without, decrease, be lacking, have need’; because the Lord is my Shepherd lets me know the certainty of his provision. My God shall supply all of my need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Every verse in Psalms 23 gives us the confidence we need to know how great our God is. He has provided for the things ahead of us as He leads us down a righteous path, but also lets us know that following us ( that speaks of where we have already been) goodness & mercy will be there all of our lives as we dwell in His house. Because He is my Shepherd I will have peace!

It is interesting how frequently we as people confuse “want” and “need”; yet, here in this verse, they are synonymous.  When you’re on a fast, it’s the “wants” that tempt you, and yet, with the Daniel Fast, you have all you “need”.  There are protein sources, filling carbs, healthy fats, plenty of vitamins, and no restrictions on spices, so even flavor isn’t lacking.  Sugar cravings can be crushed with some fresh fruit; and yet, those donuts in the office break room still tempt me.  I mentioned before that our daily calorie intake has gone way down (typically 1500 calories/day before the fast, and now an average of 1000 while on the Fast).  I mentioned this to a coworker and she couldn’t believe I wasn’t hungry, and said that our stomachs must have just shrunk.  Well, while I don’t doubt that our stomachs probably have shrunk a little, the VOLUME of food we’ve been taking in hasn’t really changed all that much.  You’ve seen our plates every day of this fast—have they ever been “small” portions?  Not really—we’re still eating a full plate of food at each meal.  We’re not hungry because we have more than enough sustenance.  We aren’t deprived.  Our fridge isn’t empty.  Our stomachs aren’t growling.
Now, admittedly, I’ve cut my workouts down to about 1x/week while we’re on the Fast, just because we’re taking in so few calories—if I was still working out 2-3x week, I would probably be getting hungry.  But I’ve been spending that gym time in prayer & devotions while on the Fast.  I’ll probably lose some muscle mass—but that’s not the point.  This isn’t a diet.  It’s a spiritual commitment.  And I’m sure we’ll have no trouble getting that muscle back when we resume our regular diet next week.
Now—some nerdy stuff.  If you’re considering a Daniel Fast, but you’re concerned about protein, I got bored the other day and created this handy-dandy table of various protein sources (vegan & non-vegan, for comparison), so that you can try to pick the best protein sources while you’re fasting.  The highlighted items are Fast-Approved. (Also, please note, if you’re preggers and want to do the Fast, pretty much all of the Daniel Fast books & sites out there say you should still eat small amounts of lean chicken & fish in order to get the required amount of protein for baby-making.)
While we haven’t tried seitan since starting the Fast, I’ve heard good things about it from my vegetarian friends.  And it’s actually easy to make at home if you can’t find it at the store.  And if you want to add the nutritional yeast that’s in most recipes for seitan, that’s also Fast-approved, since it’s deactivated & not actually a leavening agent.

Breakfast:  Oatmeal w/raisins
Lunch:  We had a baked potato bar with our small group from church.  We threw together a delicious chili using black beans, a seasoning packet, a can of tomatoes & some crumbled up Boca burgers that a friend left in our freezer over the summer after a BBQ.
Dinner:  Our friend decided to host an antipasto party at her house.  If you’re not familiar with “antipasto”, it’s basically Italian tapas or finger foods.  Everything BUT pasta, sort of.  Yummy meats & cheeses, dips & crostini, Tiramisu cupcakes from AmyCakes, and some homemade limoncello… all of which we couldn’t have.  *sad face*  So we brought a Mediterranean fruit tray:
(cantaloupe, grapes, figs, dates, pears, and blood oranges)
…and a relish tray with some pickles, olives & nuts.  Chels also made a really yummy white bean dip that we were able to nom on with some mini sweet peppers.  Much fun was had, and we didn’t feel deprived.
Day 15 (Monday)
Today’s Devotion: “Psalms 150:1-6 ‘Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.’
It’s time to Praise the Lord! Do you realize you have finished week two & are beginning the final seven days of your fast. God is so good. You need to take a few moments today & reflect on what you have already seen the Lord do during this fast. Isn’t it incredible, how can you keep your mouth shut? Scream, Shout, Jump up & down, give Him a wave offering, dance like a man on fire, that’s it---Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. He’s not nervous, backward, timid, shy, bashful, or religious so go ahead Praise God!!! He’s worthy of all of the praise you will give him. When I read this Psalm I can see each musician giving the Lord a solo praise on each of their instruments, it’s loud, it’s from the heart, & it truly blesses the Lord. What are you willing to give Him?”
Only five days left!  Is it odd that I’m more anxious to make sure I try all the Daniel Fast recipes I have pinned, than I am about getting to have coffee on Saturday?  It’s been a real blessing to be able to share this experience with our friends, family, and you readers!  I think our Life Group from church might even try to do the Fast together again at some point.  While we’re still waiting on answers for our big decisions this year, I can say I have much more peace about it than when we started.  Even though we don’t know what’s in store for 2014, we do know that God knows, and whatever happens, he’ll guide us through it.
As far as those who wonder about the potential health benefits/ramifications of choosing to do a Fast, I have to say—so far, there are no “bad” ramifications.  I mentioned that I gave blood last week; my test results came back, and in the 8 weeks since my last donation:
  • My iron level actually went UP, despite not having any meat in our diet—likely because we weren’t drinking any tea or soda, which can leach iron from your system.  But we’ve had plenty of beans & spinach (excellent iron sources), and plenty of Vitamin C, which helps your body absorb more of the iron from foods when you eat them at the same time.
  • My blood pressure dropped from 122/69 to 98/63.
  • My pulse rate dropped from 96bpm (high) to 66bpm.
  • My cholesterol dropped TWENTY-ONE points, from 185 in December to 164 in February.  For comparison, it was at 196 in July while The Scoop was still open (hot dogs & ice cream aren’t great for cholesterol, shocker, I know).  They don’t break it out into HDL and LDL, but still…an overall 164 is pretty awesome.
So, for those who have ever been concerned about the health of their vegan friends because they weren’t “getting enough protein”…you can probably stop worrying about them.  And for those vegans who are reading this and think, “Aha!   Now that you’ve seen the wonders of our diet, you MUST be considering staying on it, right?”
Umm…no.  Sorry.  I love cheese & bacon.  And I don’t believe in cramming a bunch of weird crap together into super-processed “vegan” version of meats or cheese. But I can say that all the label-reading we’ve been doing has made me much more aware of what goes into pre-processed foods.  For example—almost EVERY prepackaged food has sugar of some sort.  Some may use “cane juice”, or “molasses”…but it’s still sugar, folks.  We all have a sweet tooth, and the food companies have figured out that we think sugar makes everything taste better.  Even my canned “sweet peas” had sugar added.  Most of the canned beans—yup, sugar added. Even some of the flavored boxes of Triscuits I looked at had sugar.    Now…I don’t think sugar’s evil.  I love sugar.  Take a look at that tag map to the right of this post—you might notice that “desserts” is one of the most common tags.  But if you’re watching calories, or diabetic, or trying to go low-carb, you’ve really gotta watch out for any extra sugars that don’t NEED to be there.  So just be aware, and read labels.  There ARE products out there, even some generics, that don’t have added sugar.  My favorite examples for this Fast:  Original or generic Triscuits (aka Woven Wheat Squares), Kroger brand Greek dressing, Vlasic dill pickles, most yellow mustards (not honey or Dijon),  Smucker’s Natural peanut butter, Polaner AllFruit jams, Red Gold salsa, Bush’s black beans.
As for the whole food fans who are reading this who wonder if we’ll decide to go all-natural & organic and cut out all of the preprocessed foods from our life?  Also no, sorry.  If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you probably already know that we like to cook healthy, wholesome versions of bad-for-you things.  But with working 45 hours a week, PLUS having The Scoop to contend with when it reopens, we just don’t have the time to cook everything from scratch all the time, even though I do PREFER cooking from scratch and using natural, organic foods when we CAN.  But when you have a crazy hectic life, sometimes you really need shortcuts (all my mom readers out there, holla!).  But you can make smart choices when you’re buying pre-packaged, and it’s pretty common sense stuff:  get things without a lot of added ingredients or preservatives.  If you can read the list of ingredients, you’re probably in good shape.  Aim for whole grains and whole wheats, avoid added sugar, and go natural when you can, but don’t break the bank doing it.  Your life is YOUR life, and I’m not going to tell people who make $30k a year that they need to start spending their entire paycheck to go organic.  You are NO LESS of a person if you can’t afford a whole foods diet, or even if you CAN afford it but CHOOSE not to because it doesn’t fit your life. Just make the smartest choices you can afford to make.
Breakfast:  Leftover garlic mashed potatoes & peas (we’re trying to clear out all the leftovers) and a cup of fresh cantaloupe with salt
Lunch: The last of the veggie minestrone
Afternoon snack:  about a cup of fresh pineapple, and a bunch of grapes
Dinner:  The leftover crab boil veggies.

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