Woman's Journey From Anorexia-Bulimia to Top Chef Revealed in New Memoir

By McCarton Ackerman 04/15/15

Diya Sethi revealed her remarkable story in her new memoir, The Addict: A Life Recovered.

Diya Sethi
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The remarkable story of a woman who overcame anorexia and bulimia to become a world-class chef has now been put to paper as she hopes to inspire others to overcome their battles with eating disorders.

Diya Sethi, who is set to release her memoir The Addict: A Life Recovered, began her journey of becoming a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef in London in 2002. Her struggles with anorexia and bulimia first began in 1990 after being unable to deal with the racist discrimination she faced growing up in southern Africa.

“My story is that of a child who was hurt, humiliated, ridiculed and rejected—and she escaped,” explained Sethi to Vogue India. “It is the story of my war with myself, as I fought addiction to find my way to who I really was and to the life that was meant to be mine. [Writing] was hard only because I had to re-live my past in order to be able to write about it. I couldn't do it from memory alone. I had to revive the feelings to write about them coherently and with credibility."

Sethi would starve herself throughout the day before bingeing and purging in the evenings. After six years of this pattern, her body underwent acute inflammation from both her eating disorders and a separate addiction to alcohol.

“I had a body that was not only suffering but had also begun to reveal its persecution,” she wrote. “A distended abdomen betrayed malnourishment and my face was swollen from water retention. My teeth were full of cavities, the enamel worn thin from the acid reflux produced by vomiting and I had an oesophagus infected by a fungal overgrowth called candidiasis.”

In 1996, she voluntarily checked into an inpatient treatment center called PROMIS, located in Kent, England. But the tools she learned in rehab never fully stuck and she endured several relapses over the next three years. It was only after returning to India three years later, and discovering Ayurveda and yoga, that she was able to finally gain peace. After moving to London and beginning her quest to become a chef, she was finally able to “turn my worst enemy into my greatest friend: food.”

Despite her inspiring journey, it was only after a failed relationship with another addict in 2010 that she felt compelled to tell her story. Her hope is that her transformation will help spring readers struggling with their lives into action that creates change.

“Feel your way through life ... don't think it,” she said. “As Robert Frost wrote, 'The best way out is always through.'”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.