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A person who is living well can be said to be “making lifestyle choices with God’s help to support optimum physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health and experiencing His gift of abundant life” (Tryon, 2009). All of these “dimensions” of health are interrelated, and in order for a person to truly flourish, each area must be nourished. Dietary choices can have an especially interesting impact on these dimensions. Eating healthfully is not always viewed as a joyous endeavor, but when viewed from a multi-dimensional perspective, it can become a more rewarding and intriguing pursuit.

One way to promote a nutritional experience that is enjoyable, sustainable, and beneficial in all three dimensions of health is through a type of religious fasting known as the Daniel Fast. As a dietary restriction fast, the content of the diet is modified while the quantity of food remains unlimited. The restriction to unlimited quantities of plant-based, nutrient-dense foods allows individuals to experience enjoyment and satisfaction during the fasting experience.

Ministry leaders on the campus of Southern Adventist University observed participants in a 28-day Daniel Fast and explored whether or not the fast was an effective method for promoting healthy lifestyle choices spiritually, mentally, and physically. All participants were invited to provide feedback about the spiritual and mental dimensions, and a specific group was selected for studying the physical effects.

By focusing on the development of sustainable lifestyle habits regarding spiritual growth and healthful eating, the fast went beyond dieting for weight loss. Participants were found to experience spiritual progress, academic improvement, increased mental clarity, and physical benefits. Ultimately, the observations reinforced the connection between spiritual, mental, and physical health and showed that each dimension can be positively impacted by spiritually-based nutrition choices.