Italian Odyssey 5: Feminine Leadership 5 Day Workshop: Yikes the food!

I used to go on quite a lot of retreats in the past.  About six months ago it occurred to me that I would no longer be able to participate in one of my favourite retreats.    Why? Because the meals are all vegetarian.  My retreat leaders believe that eating meat is not right for spiritual growth.  Wow,  I am excluded simply because I cannot eat  grains and pulses that are a substantial part of the fare provided.

And now I am here in this wonderful location in Italy, at this wonderful Feminine Leadership workshop, and it’s 5 days long.  We are all going to eat together.

Sounds like a Paleo eaters recipe for disaster right?  Here I am with people who all willingly and happily are eating a healthier form of the SAD diet.  It is a bit healthier in that  there are not the packaged foods with lots of chemicals that is usually part of the SAD diet but none the less it has plenty of wheat and other grains and plenty of sugar. One great thing though is that only good olive oil is used in cooking and in salads, thank you Italia.    Phew!

My hostess is aware of my ‘problem diet’ and she does understand that I can’t eat grains or sugar.  She has often commented that she has no idea of what I eat many times.  I tell her many times I eat meats, fish, eggs, fat and vegetables.  It’s seems a very hard concept to understand.

Very luckily I have my own kitchenette which means I can make my own breakfast.   Meanwhile everyone else is eating “healthy’ chocolate muesli, yoghurt, milk, bread, fruit and jams.  Typical breakfast in the west right?

One woman in the group does comment that she can’t really eat that kind of food as she has GERD so I offer to cook her breakfast.  But then I notice that throughout the day she is snacking and eating all the foods she told me she cannot have.  I realise she does not really have the desire to eat differently than the rest of the group.

I tell my lovely new friends about the Alkaline Paleo diet but I can see no one is interested and they seem to roll their eyes in a metaphorical kind of way as I explain it a little.  Another diet, they seem to silently say,  just another darned diet.

Everyday out comes the biscuits and sugary snacks for morning and afternoon repast.  After dinner out comes the dessert.  So much sugar!  As we discuss all the things we are there to discuss there is sugar and wheat, in some form of another, right there in front of me for most of the day.

By day 4 I am looking at some liquorice and finally I find it hard to ignore, everything else hasn’t tempted me, but now with this scent rising to meet my nostrils  I take a small piece and eat it.  Then and only then I remember it’s got wheat in it and in the next few days I have to bear the brunt of my memory lapse.  The worst cheat for me as it’s so nasty in the way I react to it.

A few days later. for me. a miracle occurs.  The host’s daughter arrives.  I am given a wonderful gift because she, a lovely 30 year old woman, is on the Paleo diet.  And not for any small reason, she is on it because she has breast cancer.  Her doctor has told her that is the best diet for anyone who has solid cancer tumours.   The host, her father, as I have previously written about, is a diabetic type 2 in denial and constantly eat sugary snacks to get a bit of energy.

She has been vegan for 3 years and this has not led the cancer into remission.  She tells me being vegan was not good for her but that it’s what everyone seem to recommend to get rid of cancer.

Most of the women have left by now but I feel like I am being supported in some way, given a boost, my this lovely young women who just wants to live and will do anything to achieve this.

She has found a doctor who prescribed this diet,  his blog is here .

I feel some relief as I finally have a feeling of having a ally.

So the finale of this wonderful retreat was I understood it was up to me to ask for what I needed!   And that was that the biscuits and lollies could be on another table separate from the one we were working on and that my colleagues could get their lollies by walking to this table and getting them as they needed!   

I think with this request I would not only be helping myself but others who were tempted and found it hard to say no when they kept looking at the so called ‘treats’ right in front of them.