My Health Journey
Updated: Aug 31, 2021
Why and how I came to live a healthy diet
I’m Flo—a surfer, a mum, a designer and the creator of LiveliFood. Welcome!
Growing up in Argentina, I spent summers on my Abuela‘s farm and fell in love with surfing on the coast. The more time I spent outdoors, the stronger my sense of connection to nature became. The more connected I felt to my natural environment, the more I wanted to eat foods that were also natural. I developed a sixth sense for healthy food. I also saw a significant disconnect from raw foods in the “normal” diet, and one question led to another...
What’s really in the foods I buy?
What happens inside my body when I eat them?
I found myself on a quest to find the answers. I was sure that there had to be a way to maximize my diet and lifestyle to live healthier and longer.
Where do the painful diseases we die derive?
Can I prevent them and extend my life?
How can I feel happy most of the time?
I have sought ways to use nutritious food to bring my best self to the things I value and aim to accomplish. For now, that’s my work, my family, and my time outdoors—but I want a way to keep it going far into the future, to eventually become the coolest grandmother ever.
I think I’ve found that way.
From My Mum’s Kitchen to My Own
Remember the days when everything in the kitchen was ‘zero’ or low fat? My mum was one of many convinced by the low-fat movement. In my house, the belief was that fat from foods like avocados, nuts, dairy, and eggs would “make you fat.” As you can imagine, I grew up eating many carbs and sugars but missed out on all those delicious healthy fats.
We can’t blame them—my mum was doing what she thought was best for us, and most likely, your parents were, too. We know a lot more today than our parents did—like how certain fats help prevent major diseases and are crucial to cognitive functions. So, I had to bring them back to the dinner plate if I wanted to have a healthy brain.
In contrast, I spent summers with my grandmother on her traditional Argentinian farm and cattle ranch. It was there that I learned exactly where real food came from. My sister and I got our hands in the dirt, helping sow and harvest a huge veggie garden. Our favorite thing was to hunt for the chicken’s freshly laid eggs every afternoon. We even helped with the occasional killing of a lamb, chicken, or pig for the barbeque. I learned to peel wooly sheepskin and dry it in the sun for horseback riding.
Summers on the farm gave me a reference point that later would make “convenient” processed foods feel very far from nature. And seeing myself as a part of nature, they didn’t seem right for ME.
Australian Kitchen Appliances
I adventured to Australia in my early 20s with the dream of surfing waves on paradise beaches and exploring a wild country. Surfing made me feel immensely respectful toward and connected to the environment. I wanted to live a healthy lifestyle, and to me, that meant eating fresh and local foods.
It was there that I met Brett, my husband. Clearly, I needed to figure out how to stay longer in paradise. I relinquished some of my daily surfing hours and got a job as a designer at a well-known Australian company that made, you guessed it, small kitchen appliances. It was a perfect twist of fate. Their creative professional test kitchen fed my passion for making and eating delicious, nutritious food. I was inspired to experiment more boldly in my kitchen. I was really feeling the benefits of eating better, which spurred me to keep learning as much as I could.
My 3-Week Sugar Shakedown
My food world got rocked in 2010 when my friend, Sari, loaned me Sweet Poison by David Gillespie. This was the first food book I read from start to finish. I was more than in awe—I was like, ‘What the fuck!’ that no one had told me all these things about sugar before!
It took me three solid weeks to get used to eating without sugar. And I mean NO sugar. Obviously, no sweets, but it turned out even a can of tomato sauce is full of sugar. ‘No sugar’ meant being a total nerd—reading every label to catch the secret sugar in so many processed foods before it went into my mouth.
After lunch, my body would start to shake like I was detoxing from some kind of drug. Because, essentially, I was. I craved carbohydrates like crazy and survived by eating chips, avocados (despite Mum’s warnings), pure dark chocolate, and massive bowls of pasta before bed.
My willpower was seriously tested, but I was also sincerely rewarded. I used to feel exhausted around 7 pm, but now I was still energized at the end of my workday. I was sleeping really well. My grocery bill and the time it took me to shop were both half what they were before. I had more energy, more time, and more money.
Welcome #&*@ing Diabetes
I was six months pregnant and enjoying our last solo adventure—a hiking trip deep in Patagonia—when my husband, Brett, was diagnosed with Type I diabetes. We were already a year off of sugar and experimenting with new recipes all the time, but trying to understand how your body works when your pancreas doesn’t was an advanced challenge.
Brett needed to stop eating sugar, but he also had to cut carbohydrates to a bare minimum and quit gluten. After months of learning and experimenting, we’re now confident that we’re managing diabetes in the best, healthiest way we can.
He may still dream of hot buttered bread from time to time, but Brett thanks me regularly for making his diet sustainable. We’ve discovered that a limited menu, done creatively, still has a ton of exciting flavor and delicious variety. Add to that how good we feel because of the way we eat and how much less we worry about near and long-term health problems (of all kinds, not just diabetes), and there are no worries that we’re missing out on anything at all.
Cold Hands, Warm Belly
When we had the chance to move to San Francisco, California, for a great design job and more awesome, albeit much colder, surf, we jumped at it. However, five years of surfing in chilly water and wind challenges the body’s natural protection, which took a toll on mine. While many friends experienced surfer’s ear (an extra bone growth inside the ear), I got awful joint pain in my hands. It would last for hours and hours after a session, making work difficult. Stopping surfing was definitely not an option! So, I researched how to reduce the pain via my diet.
I was able to lessen the pain and inflammation quite a lot by making a combination of changes. I reduced my coffee intake, which improved my blood circulation. After a lot of research to find the right combination of ingredients so my body could properly absorb it, I added a daily supplement of curcumin (from turmeric) to bring down inflammation. I made sure to take my regular daily fish oil. And, of course, I never forgot my water gloves!
Around this time, I came across a book that reinforced all I’d been learning about what we do and don’t need in order to function well and fight inflammation—starting with our brains and extending throughout our whole bodies. By David Perlmutter, MD, Grain Brain gave me a considerable boost in further refining our way of eating, which boosted how good I felt in my daily life to new levels.
Eventually, we moved from San Francisco back to Sydney, Australia, where the water is much warmer. It’s been gentler on my hands, but I still continue to take my fish oil, try not to go crazy with coffee, and take curcumin during the winter months.
Eat and Be Happy
I created LiveliFood so you can follow my research and discoveries about food and its effects on our bodies. I want you to feel empowered to live a healthier, longer life—both for your benefit and for your loved ones. Yes, you will end up quitting some foods and losing some weight along the way—but forget about deprivation; we have FUN in the kitchen! With LiveliFood, I help you focus on all the good stuff you CAN eat and fill your plate with variety, flavor, and plenty of delicious desserts for those of you with a sweet tooth like mine.
Thank you for being here. I hope you enjoy what I have to share. Let’s eat and be happy!