The prophet Daniel has been one of the most acclaimed prophets of God. He has been known for interpreting dreams, having visions, for being locked up in a
lion’s den for praying, and his notable 10 day diet challenge (see Daniel 1:12). In the story, Daniel challenged the guard in charge of the captured men to test his servants for 10 days, to give them nothing but vegetables and water, while the others ate “royal food” (meaning meat, fats, wine, unhealthy food). In the end Daniel and company Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (their Babylonian names: Daniel – Belteshazzar, Hananiah – Shadrach, Mishael – Meshach, Azariah – Abednego) where healthier and in a better shape than the others. Now there might be confusion in other versions because in KJV it is translated as “pulses and water”. Pulses is another name for legumes. So to avoid any confusing terms let’s stick to vegetables (meaning both
pulses and vegetables). Their diet brought them in peak condition, physically, mentally and spiritually. In the modern-day only one thing stands in their way; the food pyramid. The food pyramid is a pyramid-shaped nutritional guide published in Sweden on 1974. The food pyramid consisted of fats and oils, sweets and dairy products, meat, fruits and vegetables, rice and bread, and water. So HOW did Daniel achieve optimal health if he only ate 1/3 of it? What food did he eat? What nutrients did he get on eating only vegetables and water? And what was the effect of the diet?
Date: 605 b.c. Location: 32°32′11″N 44°25′15″E (Babylon, Babylonia, present day Iraq)
Let’s start with the food he ate in Babylon (it was a major city in the country of Babylonia). In accordance to Iraqi cuisine, Daniel must have eaten eggplants, tomatoes, turnips, beets, shallots, okras, cucumbers, onions, cress, potatoes, cabbages, courgette or zucchini, spinach, lettuces, leeks, artichokes, garlic, peppers and chili for his vegetables. While he ate pulses and legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, green beans, green grams, and cannellini. Next, how did he get all the nutrients needed for energy and normal bodily functions. Legumes and vegetables have the necessities like protein for muscle-building (spinach and chickpeas), carbohydrates for energy (lentils) and fiber for stool movement in the intestine (artichokes and cannellini). They also contain various minerals and vitamins such as iron from spinach and beans (helps with the production of red blood cells), zinc from chickpeas (metabolize nutrients), magnesium from spinach and black beans (neurotransmission), and potassium from spinach and cannellini (proper function of cells, tissues, organs), Vitamin C from tomato (boost the immune system),A
from lettuce (maintain good eyesight) , E from turnips and spinach (protection from eye disorders and neurological diseases), K from onions and green leafy vegetables (prevents blood clots), and B from spinach and okra (absorption of nutrients). They even include extras: antioxidants from chili and artichoke (stop oxidation of cells), lycopene from tomatoes (impede heart disease) and beta-carotene from spinach (preserves healthy skin). Drinking water was also another factor to their health. Water replenished their bodies and cells, sustained balance on bodily fluids and it kept them from getting dehydrated. Daniel’s diet brought him the necessities like protein for muscle-building, carbohydrates for energy, and water for rehydrating.
Based on my assumptions, he and his friends had enough of the nutrients essential for optimal health. So, what were the effects of it physically, mentally and spiritually? The bible says:
At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.
To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.
At the end of the time set by the king to bring them into his service, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s service. In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.
Daniel 1:15-20, NIV
They looked so healthy that the guard was convinced and changed everyone’s diet! God also gave them knowledge, wisdom, and discernment, that placed them in high places in the government.
The story of Daniel teaches us many things. For instance, it teaches us not to defile our bodies by eating unhealthy food. Our body is not ours, it is God’s, He gave us the responsibility to take care of our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19). So don’t be surprised if you have high cholesterol, heart disease, high blood pressure, or over weight (obesity). Daniel’s diet proves to be really effective, it boosts your physical and mental performance. He kept his body pure and the result was incredible. Daniel, having the ideal health, needs not only to keep his body in good shape but also his spirit. Jesus once said “It is written: Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.“( Matthew 4:4).
I therefore conclude that they didn’t just rely on the food that they ate but they relied on God’s word, prayer and meditation. It was the secret of people to have long life, and that was before Coca-Cola, fried chickens, new year’s resolutions and cars were introduced. Before the unhealthy “stuff” were introduced, people used to live for 80-100 years. The age of which people die or life expectancy recently decreased tremendously from 900 years to 67.2 years old! So we can imagine Methuselah (the Bible’s oldest man) living the same lifestyle and eating the same diet for 969 years. “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” 1 Corinthians 15:32, this verse is widely misinterpreted, eating and drinking whatever & whenever we want, after all we will die, that is a ridiculous mindset and it is entirely not true. Yes, we will all die someday but it is not a good reason to waste your body by eating and drinking (alcohol) excessively. Disregarding the responsibility given by God has it’s own consequences like the ones that I mentioned above. He gave us our bodies, and we can show our gratefulness by eating and thinking healthy. So let’s follow Daniel’s example by eating right, praying consistently, and keeping our bodies pure from worldly things. So start your year with a new goal by living a healthy life. Happy eating! (Now where was that bag of chips? *grin*)
(For the whole story check out Daniel 1)
“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” 3 John 1:2 NIV
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God”
1 Corinthians 10:31 NIV