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.






  1. Hello Cassie and hello to Ian, thank you Cassie for your blog. Tonight I sit on the street in Rome eating mozzarella prosciutto and salad….thank you.. I loved my Italian adventure and feel blessed to have met you both and especially Lillian an absolute example to us all. As I got on the train this morning I had news that a very dear friend had passed away last night so today has been a challenge and a lesson. My sons have been great! Hurray for sons – how special they are…. However they display it they love their mums..don’t forget.! Friends have been lovely too and I was able to say goodbye to my friend by lighting a candle in his honour in a beautiful church. He would have liked that. What a privilege to have known him. I hear you Cassie in what you write and I honour you. I hope I can be inspired by your example. These past four days have been so important. Not so much for the exercises but for the experience of meetings such courageous people and the privilege of sharing some time together, thank you. I hope to see you in London… You are both so welcome .. With love Sarah x

    • Thanks so much Sarah! I missed the most important part of my blog totally forgetting what I had learnt, so please read it as I have amended it!

      I found out about your beautiful friend dying. My heart and love is with you.
      Good to know you have such lovely support. I also am up and underneath you in your quest and journey of truth and integrity.
      Lots of love

  2. I am so honored to get a little mention on your blog! Yes, it is hard here with many many temptations all around and I haven’t been 100% paleo. But I am so glad you are both here…and offering me delicious bacon, and helping me stay on the right track.. I thought it was going to be almost impossible! It’s fate, isn’t it, that we are here together?

    Your neighbor,

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