Friday 18 November 2011

Eating in a non-Beyond Chocolate way?

Gretel Hallet, is a Trained Chocolate Fairy and is running the Getting Started half day workshop in Norwich - perfect for beginners to experience the core principles of Beyond Chocolate and equally great as a refresher for any Beyond Chocolater. If you live in East Anglia and want to know more about Beyond Chocolate or her workshops, get in touch with Gretel. 

In my week away at a recent retreat I encountered a situation that might reasonably be described as a Beyond Chocolater’s worst nightmare (apart from waking up to find ourselves in a diet club meeting, of course!!). 

The food on the retreat was all provided. It was vegan. There were 3 set meals a day at set times. There were no snacks in between apart from fruit, plain digestive or rich tea biscuits. There was no choice on the menu; one dish was prepared for each meal. Meals were dished out and served to the tables on a volunteer rota basis.

All of which sounds very ‘un-Beyond Chocolate’, but actually, it wasn’t.

I guess I have been working with Beyond Chocolate now for long enough to be able to be flexible with how I manage the principles. At least flexible enough to cope with the conditions described above, and I found it was perfectly possible to continue working with the Beyond Chocolate principles during that week.

I was very tuned-in during that week. Spending a week in meditation, in communal activities and in silence, having time to myself and time spent working in groups – I was very focused on myself, how I was feeling (emotionally and physically), what I was thinking etc.
Although I didn’t have any obvious choice about the food I was eating, I did have a choice whether to eat it or not. I found I was naturally hungry at the meal-times (particularly as I wasn’t interested in the snacks on offer in between meals), and that I could exercise choice by eating the bits of the meals I liked and leaving anything I didn’t. I could also eat to satisfaction and leave any food which was extra to that.

Some meals we took in silence and that really gave me an opportunity to really focus on the food I was eating, rather than absent-mindedly forking food in to my mouth in between conversations. All meals were taken at tables, all food was on plates. I never found myself wandering around mindlessly snacking as I sometimes do at home.

I was able to take walks through the beautiful countryside during my ‘time off’ from meditation or helping with communal living tasks. Being on a meditation retreat is probably one of the best things I could do to Support Myself. It gave me a week away from home and work, away from the pressures of modern life (no mobile, no computer, no novels, no ipod, no tv, no newspapers), and a chance to really focus on myself.

Above all, I enjoyed the week. I certainly plan to go again when I can next year. Finally, I have been able to take from the retreat what suits me and what I would like to work with and leave the rest – I am my own Guru!

PS if you’re wondering about the vegan bit – I thought I would miss cheese and butter, but I didn’t. I am now experimenting with meals that aren’t as dependent on dairy produce as previously – I’m enjoying the challenge and the food is good too!


  1. I need one of those retreats! Where was yours? Interestingly, I've been trying out veganism too, recently! Pls write more about that if you can, I'll be very interested in recipes, tips, how it fits in with BC etc. There is a Waitrose in the town where I live and they don't have vegan cheese. That's the only thing I'd miss if I went vegan full time - cheese. And I doubt I'd like vegan cheese (is it soya-based?), but would like to try it. I'm very interested in the whole philosophy and ethics of veganism. In the meantime, I think if we ALL just REDUCED our meat, fish and dairy product consumption, the planet would be much better for it - as our bodies, possibly. Keep writing, Gretel! Thank you.

  2. Hi Truffle35 - I went to Taraloka the Triratna Buddhist Centre for women on the Welsh border. They run a series of different workshops throughout the year and on beginner ones there's no expectation that you do anything Buddhist if you don't want to. It's a lovely setting, the women who run it are lovely too and the whole experience is completely self-nurturing. I couldn't recommend it highly enough. Google and Go!


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