DONNA – A local Rio Grande Valley teenager decided to make changes to start living a healthy lifestyle after her diabetes diagnosis.
Diabetes can strike anyone at any age. It is a new experience for Donna High School senior Myriam Rojas diagnosed with the disease a year ago.
Rojas was a picture of health for most of her life. In 2015, her grandmother died and to cope with the loss, she said she started eating poorly.
Every day I would go to the store and buy something sweet, she said. I was eating too much candy, stuff that makes you have diabetes.
Rojas went to the hospital last year after feeling dizzy. The doctor told her she had developed Type 2 diabetes.
This year, she has to take a pill every morning before she goes to school and she has to monitor her blood sugar with a glucometer.
I check myself with the little machine at my house, Rojas said.
Though she doesn’t let diabetes interfere with her schooling too much, there are times when Rojas needs extra medical care.
I’ve been going to doctor’s appointments and when I go to the doctor’s appointments, I come back to school, I tell the teacher that if I could make up past work, she said.
When she feels dizziness or headaches at school, she heads to the nurse’s office where a nurse checks her on a glucometer.
Donna High School nurse Elizabeth Trevino is also monitoring other students with diabetes.
On a daily basis on diabetes, I have like five right now that I take care of, she said.
The secret to avoiding diabetes is simple – diet. People should avoid eating things like sugars, sweets or fried foods and try eating vegetables or more fruit.
We go to fast food restaurants and we drive everywhere. We’re not exercising. So we wear out our bodies and our insulin doesn’t work correctly, Trevino explained.
She said foods people see in everyday life should be avoided because too much of them can increase blood sugar leading to diabetes.
Cokes, chips, those kinds of things, because those convert to simple sugars and spike your sugar up, she said.
Trevino has suggestions for students looking to pick food options for their health.
You want to do a lot of protein, like fish and chicken. Baked, broiled is the best. Salads, fresh fruit, but you do also have to make sure that you watch the sugars like oranges because they’re high in sugar, she said.
Trevino noted eating healthy can have challenges.
Fatty foods can be more accessible and cost less than the good foods like the salads, she said.
Rojas said she fights to replace all of the candy and unhealthy foods in her diet with better choices. She said when her school cafeteria is serving something such as pizza she avoids it and picks something else.
Health food like a salad or fruit or stuff that I should eat, she said.
Rojas said the transition to a new lifestyle isn’t too hard for her and her friends support her.
Trevino said in the Valley, the food can be tempting to teens. She added the students have to learn to make good healthy food decisions on their own.