The new age celebs are Bloggers, YouTubers, and Instagrammers! They are the ones who use social media to get thousands of real fans and followers. One very famous food Instagrammer is ‘The Gutless Foodie’ or Natasha Diddee. She is one of those popular food Instagrammers who woo you with their tempting food spreads and recipes. In last few years, these food accounts have become extremely popular. As a result, a number of online communities of food bloggers, YouTubers and Instagrammers have been formed across the world. One very popular name among Indian ‘Food Instagrammers’ or ‘Foodgrammers’ is Natasha Diddee. She is a 40-year-old woman who founded ‘The Gutless Foodie’ — an Instagram account with a rapidly growing fan following of over 78,000!
What makes Natasha different from other Foodgrammers and bloggers is the fact that she doesn’t have a stomach! This rare health condition would have discouraged most of us but Natasha like a true chased her dreams and followed her passion. It’s no more just a hobby for her but she makes a handsome amount of money through it!
Natasha Diddee was born to a Punjabi-Parsi father, Dr. Ravindra Diddee. Her mother Neelam Diddee is Maharashtrian. Natasha always loved cooking. After she completed her schooling, Natasha was encouraged by her mother to pursue a career in the food industry.
“I loved doing theatre in school and my mother was terrified that I would become an actress (back in the 70s, it wasn’t considered a good profession)! She knew that I liked the food and food-related pursuits, so she insisted that I focus my attention on becoming a chef. Excited about learning how to make what I loved eating, I accepted her suggestion and joined Mumbai’s famous Institute of Hotel Management at Dadar. Later, I also joined a cooking course at the Sophia Polytechnic’s chef school” – Natasha Diddee
After Natasha completed her training as a chef, she worked in famous hotels, restaurants, and organizations in Mumbai. Soon she was married and moved to Delhi where she continued to work. Natasha worked as the social secretary to the ambassadors of the embassies of 3 different countries. “This would give me an opportunity to interact with their chefs to learn about the different food cultures of different countries,” she tells. Food was still an integral part of her life. Slowly, life started taking a toll on her. Her long working hours, adjusting in a new city, her ‘unhappy’ married life, troubles with her in-laws, her unhealthy eating habits, everything started to build up high levels of stress in her body. Like most of us, Natasha ignored it!
In 2010, Natasha started experiencing weird symptoms. As soon she ate, she experienced a piercing pain, like many pins pricking at one particular point, in her left shoulder. She immediately consulted one of the best orthopedics in Bangalore, who promptly asked her to do an X-ray. “He told me that my tendon had snapped and I believed him. I had 2 reconstructive surgeries on my shoulder followed by 6 months of intensive sports physiotherapy. I just wanted to recover as quickly and safely as possible and of course, there were huge costs involved.”
Despite all this treatment, there was no change in her condition. The pain continued. When Natasha complained about no improvement, she was told there was completely fine now and that she had become an addict to painkillers! Her weight turned from 83 to 38 kilos! Her hemoglobin dropped to 4 and she could not even drink water. She threatened to sue the doctor who left the country. She went to Sweden to consult experts but got no help. By that time, Natasha Diddee had shifted to Pune. Even after consulting the best doctors and undergoing so many ultrasounds, X rays, sonographies, Natasha’s condition remained same.
Dr. Bhalerao saved Natasha’s life
After traveling the world to find a cure for herself, Natasha gave one last try on her relative’s insistence — KEM hospital in Pune. The treatment she got here changed her life forever.
“One day, I was sitting on my hospital bed in vajrasana and with my body crouched in front because that was the only way I felt relief. I was alone in my room when one very unassuming man walked in and started studying me. When my father came in, he introduced himself as laparoscopic surgeon Dr. SS Bhalero and proceeded on to tell us exactly what was happening with my body. He said that from the pose I was sitting in, he could understand that I had bleeding ulcers around my stomach which was causing great pain in my shoulder area and that I was unable to retain any food. My father and I were both shocked because he had accurately described what was happening in my body.”
When Dr. Bhelrao examined her body through laparoscopy, he saw perforated ulcers and a tumor around her stomach. The only solution to this was to do a total gastrectomy and immediately remove the stomach entirely to save Natasha’s life!
“Dr. Suryabhan Bhalerao of Pune’s KEM hospital saved my life by performing this very intricate eight-hour surgery. I owe him my life,” Natasha Diddee
Natasha’s life had not just been saved but also changed forever. As she doesn’t have a stomach, the food that she consumes just ‘goes out’ of her body within an hour. So, she has to take 8 to 10 nutritious mini meals every day to provide the required energy and nutrition for her body.
Since Vitamin B is produced in the stomach, Natasha’s body is deficient in it. She suffers from a low memory retention as vitamin B directly affects the memory. So she takes injections of Vitamin B. Due to the absence of a stomach the great foodie never feels hungry! Natasha finds it quite scary.
Natasha says that though there are days when her health begins to deteriorate, for the rest, she is on no medication and continues to heal herself through good food.
“Before my surgery, I was just existing like many of us do. Post surgery, I realized that I had been gifted a second shot at life. That’s when I decided that I was going to live, not just exist. I think the biggest challenge in doing this was to understand and accept that I actually don’t have a stomach. As a trained chef, it was just so ironic. I had to relearn things and retrain myself. Thankfully, God is kind and our bodies wondrous. With effort in the right direction, my body began to adapt,” Natasha Diddee
Natasha also realized that she should be eating healthily. Soon, she set up a Facebook group ‘The Gutless Foodie’ where she posted pictures of her beautifully-plated dishes, along with the recipe and interesting back-stories. Members who joined the group were also encouraged to share recipes that had been forgotten. In 2014, @thegutlessfoodie was created on Instagram and soon became highly popular. For Natasha, there has been no looking back after that! Today, this ‘foodgrammer’ is known for her simple and super healthy recipes.
“I like fuss-free comfort foods and believe food should be comforting, not intimidating. So I post everyday kind of food that I’ve cooked for myself, my family and friends. Most of my recipes are done in under 30 minutes. My food pictures, taken on my phone camera, is minimalist too,”
Natasha has also started reviewing menus of restaurants and creating customized recipes for them. But Natasha loves her kitchen the most as it is this place where her creativity finds its best expression, much to the delight of her Instagram followers.