“So many bad things were happening to me at that time,
but my family inspired me to find the willpower.”
For Yucatecos, the consumption of panuchos (stuffed tortillas), cochinita pibil (roasted suckling pig) and other traditional dishes is very popular. Carlos really enjoyed these dishes but they were incompatible with his new diet because of their fat content. His wife had to modify these recipes by improving the quality of the ingredients and cutting down on portion size.
Carlos Cetina is a native of Santa Elena, Yucatán, Mexico. His mother tongue is Yucatec Maya, and he has lived in the United States for 11 years; however, he was only able to reunite with his wife and two daughters four years ago.
In early 2020, Carlos began noticing he was losing weight. He was not feeling well one day and went to the hospital to see the doctor. After taking a blood test, he was diagnosed with diabetes. He believes his illness was due to the stress and worries he had at the time. “Common problems such as the family’s health, work, etc.,” he recalls. His family medical history played a role as all his grandparents suffered from diabetes.
Another factor was that his wife was diagnosed with cancer, and he had to take care of his daughters while working to provide for his family. Fortunately, his wife recovered. “It was a difficult time. Everything happened at the same time. First there was the happiness of reuniting with my family, but it was followed by the blow from the disease” he says.
“Work was unstable because I could only work a few hours. Then COVID-19 happened. You grab some bread; you eat it with chocolate, with a soda. It’s the easiest to do between work and the other worries. We think that eating well is not an option. In reality it is not when you are going through lots of things at the same time,” shares Carlos.
At the hospital, he received his diagnosis, medication and a referral to a nutritionist, who guided him on how to modify his diet. “You have a family to look after. You need to make these changes. They have been my motivation. Learning how to have coffee without sugar or giving up tortillas was hard, but I have improved significantly. I know this because I feel better,” asserts Carlos. He has controlled his sugar levels (blood glucose). According to the doctor, it is likely he will soon no longer need medical treatment. The dosage has lowered considerably; however, he must continue to follow a healthy diet.
“In Yucatán we prepare the pork with tomatoes. We make the famous Entomatado with pork, including the skin. But now we prepare it with meat that is very low in fat,” he points out. When Carlos tasted his favorite dishes with these slight modifications, he realized that they tasted the same as the original recipes.
“Another popular dish is Cabaxes, which includes beans, salt, and garlic. It is delicious bean broth that we have with many tortillas, but now I have no more than two tortillas to prevent my blood glucose from going up,” emphasizes Carlos. And these diet modifications are recommended even for people who do not have diabetes. Eating well prevents any type of cardiovascular disease.
Today Carlos feels happy. He feels well because he is learning to live with diabetes.
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