Love Or Diet

love or dietThe latest title from SASSY Books is Love or Diet by nutritionist and health & well-being expert, Ani Richardson.Love or Diet is THE anti-dote to the destructive work of a gazillion pound diet industry. Instead of providing a sticky plaster or yet another diet plan making false promises about how we can make ourselves better or more appealing it encourages you to check out of a world where size 0 is the holy grail and instead check in with your sweet self.

Yes, I published this book. Yes, I wrote the foreword for this book. Why? Because ladykind NEED what Ani is sharing. Our lives literally depend on it. I am so happy that in the midst of all the 'lose weight now' blogs and magazine articles that we're bombarded with in January, I'm able to introduce you to the incredible super-talent that is Ani Richardson...

Ani & Freddie Dog

Describe Ani in a tweet: [Laughing] Surely it would take an encyclopaedia of space to describe any woman? I can be quite enigmatic - quirky, sensitive, compassionate, introverted, deeply in love with Divinity and also fierce when it comes to things I am passionate about (like raw chocolate). I'm also a binge-reading, meditating, motorcycle-pillion riding, tandem-cycling, love-loving, butterfly-adoring, wife and dog-mumma. I accept my wholeness, the darkness, the light and everything in between. I guess I am perfectly imperfect!...and yes, I realise that is probably longer than a tweet!

Your new book Love or Diet is like the anti-dote to every diet book I've ever read - where did the idea for your book come from? Awww thanks, that's a real compliment. This book has been percolating for about 10 years now. It comes from a deeply personal place. As you'll read in the book, I struggled with disordered emotional eating myself and know how lonely and upsetting it can be. Over the years I figured out what helped me the most, through study and experience, and I wanted to share it. I wanted to support other women on their journey and hold their hand as they explore and then transform their emotional eating patterns. It's not a cure but I think that there is healing wisdom within the pages. Finally, with your help Lisa, and with a huge shove from THAT (Spirit, God, Tao, Goddess, whatever you want to call it) I sat down and wrote the book.

Why is it that women are so obsess-o about the food and diet industry? [Sigh] Gosh, this question makes my soul weep because it is so, so sad that women do get so drawn in to the diet game BUT I totally get that they do, because I did (and I am a registered nutritionist for goodness sake). It's a complicated issue with a number of factors, I'm not sure it's healthy to blame any one thing but the media has certainly fuelled the issue, we have magazines which tell us that a celebrity has gained weight, lost weight, is too thin, is too fat, has too much cellulite or not enough breast....then the food industry creates 'fake' non-nutritious food and sells it as some kind of miracle diet. Through all of this we forget our own inner wisdom and we begin to rely on a diet book to tell us when we are hungry, what to eat and when. Women have begun to forget that they are all beautifully unique in all shapes and sizes and we have to remember that we can be healthy at all shapes and sizes too. Thinness does not equate to health. I have known some pretty unhealthy thin people and some very healthy voluptuous people. The diet industry is currently all about shame and criticism but I don't think anyone achieved lasting health through bashing themselves with a critic-stick.

People rarely combine spirituality with what we eat and put into our body - please tell us more... With pleasure! When we don't take time to connect to our deepest wisdom, to THAT, then it can feel as if there is a void in our lives. Something feels fundamentally empty and missing. I think that often we attempt to fill that space with food. Many women that I have worked with say that they are very spiritual, and I believe that they are, but when I ask them if they take time each day to connect they often say no. Even 15minutes a day can make a huge difference and connection can be anything from meditation to prayer, journaling, yoga, chanting, being in nature.... whatever you feel deeply drawn to. There's no right or wrong when it comes to THAT, part of the reason I'm so passionately in love with it....Ooops I'm getting off point a bit. I think that the emptiness that many women feel and the cravings that come up are often mistaken for food cravings when really it's a soul-call. When we are connected we realise that we are never alone, we begin to develop compassion, forgiveness, love, harmony and other qualities perhaps we'll start to love life again, try new hobbies, change jobs or move house. Snuggling with the Divine can do all kinds of things in our lives (and it's not always comfortable but I do think it always brings us to a more peaceful place in the end), and, as we snuggle we find we are less focussed on food.

You are a women's health and wellbeing specialist, what are some of the key things we need to do as ladykind to show ourselves some love? Oooh that is a juicy question. Firstly, if we do begin to have a daily love-in with THAT in the form of some sort of connection practice then we will be connected to our own wisdom and that's the point, with that inner wisdom we intrinsically know how to love on ourselves and more that know, we do it. However, it can take time to trust that inner wisdom so in my book I describe a variety of tools that can help. Taking some time each day to stop, pause and breathe can be really helpful. It gives us space to listen to our thoughts and get in touch with our needs. Often we get overwhelmed and head straight for food but if we pause we can find gold. For example in that pause we can ask ourselves am I tired - do I need a rest or an early night? Am I happy - do I need to share my joy with a trusted friend who will be happy for me and not jealous? Am I angry - do I need to write down my anger and burn it, or let it out by doing an angry dance?! Am I sad - do I need to allow myself to cry? Women often don't allow themselves to have needs, many of us our people pleasers and we forget ourselves but our needs scream at us and we stuff them down with food. We need to start by being aware of our patterns and then, over time and with practice we can learn to honour our needs and give to ourselves, not just to others.

 What's your absolute truth? [laughing again] Now that really is ineffable!

What's your biggest hope for the future of women and their relationship with their body? Whoa their cowgirl, that's a mahooooosive question! That's the kind of question that keeps you and I speaking on the phone for two hour mega-chats. In essence I guess it's simple really. It all comes down to love, and in the book I write that L.O.V.E is an acronym for Let Outrageous Vitality Emerge. I'd love for us all to be able to do that, no matter what size the label in our underwear reads and for us to openly celebrate ourselves, together in unity.

What’s your favourite: Book: Are you actually serious with this question sister Lister, please you're killing me, way too many to pick. Movie: Il Postino because Pablo Neruda is one of my favourite poets, Amelie, Eat Pray Love, Into the Wild and any soppy love or chick-flick (much to the annoyance of my delicious husband, Chris) City: I travelled around Cuba on my own when I was 27 and fell in love with it, not so much Habana but Santiago de Cuba, Sancti Spiritus, Cienfuegos and Pinar del Rio. I also love Barcelona and Kandy in Sri Lanka Place to write: In my girl-cave or by the sea Writing equipment: Pen and journal Yoga pose: Moving cat Life Lesson: Realising that the lessons never stop, there is always something to let go of, always something to embrace and all of it is part of THAT. Sri Ramana Maharshi liked to say that there is nothing that isn't Spirit or Self, that the Self is ever present. It's not something that can be understood with the mind. It simply is.

What’s next in the world o’ Ani? You know what? Right now I don't know and I feel comfortable in the not knowing. I can feel things beginning to bubble up in me and I am sitting with that (attempting to be as patient as I can)!

WIN! We've got a signed copy of Love or Diet to giveaway - simply head over to Ani's FB page hit the like button, and come back and comment below anytime between now and the 16th January  2014 - voila you'll be entered into the prize draw.

If you can't wait and want to get your hands on a copy of Love or Diet now, click here to buy it in paperback or kindle format. To find out more about Ani and to read her amazingly insightful blog, head over to: www.nurturewithlove.com