Despite losing her stomach to a tumour, Natasha Diddee swears by the mantra "listen to your body and feed it what it needs"

June 27, 2019

Picture Courtesy: Neville Sukhia Photography

'You eat with your eyes first' is a fitting statement to make in the era of Instagram. After telecommunications, I believe it is the food industry that has been revolutionised by the internet boom. I was born in the 70's and my undying passion for food found meaning when I started pursuing a full time career as a Chef. Besides working in hotel kitchens at Mumbai and Delhi, I also pursued a career within the embassy circuit and expat rentals. My professional life entailed erratic eating schedules and long working hours. Around 2012, owing to a stressful professional life and personal turmoil my health suffered and I was diagnosed with perforated ulcers and a tumour around my stomach which had to be operated. I am Natasha Diddee and this is my story.

As a compulsive foodie and a professional chef it seemed like a cruel twist of fate, that my stomach was surgically removed, in order to save my life. Everything that I knew about cooking, eating and digesting food up until that moment held no more significance as I had to relearn to feed and nourish myself without a stomach. My endless searches on the internet yielded no results on what was the right food to eat if one did not have a stomach.

For someone whose life revolved around food, the initial days after my surgery led me to believe that my relationship with food would be scarred for life. The transition from fearlessly experimenting with cuisines and ingredients to struggling to understand what to eat was a daily battle. The aftereffects of living life without a stomach played havoc with my emotional and physical well-being.

Slowly but steadily I started with a monitored diet that included 6 to 7 meals a day. Not having a stomach meant  I never 'felt' hunger and each time I ate it felt like the food literally 'dropped down' into my body. Eating is an involuntary act for most people however without a stomach I need to watch what I eat, how much I eat and even the speed at which I eat or I end up with the 'dumping syndrome' or I feel dizzy and nauseated.  

Reflecting on the last few years there is no doubt that my surgery was life-saving but it was life-changing in more ways than one. However I choose not to cry over what happened, rather looked at what best could I do with what I have. 'The Gutless Foodie' page was born out of the luxury of free time and my constant experiments with home-made food.

Picture Courtesy: @thegutlessfoodie

Instagram happened to me at a time in my life when I was rebuilding my relationship with food and the fact that I was technologically challenged did not help much! However somewhere in between cooking simple Indian food for my family and posting it on Instagram, my story as 'The Gutless Foodie' who ate hearty Indian food resonated with close to a 100,000 people who have been following my journey with food, since 2015.

People tell me I am a 'food influencer'. While I do not fully comprehend the technicalities of the term, if there was one thing I could influence the world about, it would be, "listen to your body and feed it what it needs, not what you want to eat. Whether you like it or not your body is where you live and you owe it to yourself to eat clean."

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