Girl Talk: Dieting and Eating Disorders

Through various forms of media Latinas are seen to be either “short, fat, ugly, poor, uneducated, or gangster,” or “sexy, exotic, naughty, and beautiful.” Apparently, in the eyes of the media, we are either maids or accessory girlfriends- a portrayal of less than 1% of the actual Latina population. Such a phenomena is known as underrepresented bias.

Underrepresented bias, however, can be misleading and dangerous. For example, if a doctor has an underrepresented bias of cancer test results, that means the doctor probably took a sample of benign cells only, even though cancerous cells were present. He or she then concluded that the patient didn’t have cancer. Without a second opinion, this patient might never get the treatment he or she needs to recover.

For young Latinas, the media’s underrepresented bias towards Latinas unconsciously implants lies into their brain, which can lead to skewed self-identity. They might feel that as a Latina they can only succeed if they play the role of a sexy, accessory girlfriend, or incorrectly assume that they are destined to be “low-lives.” Worse, they might begin to associate “good looks” to success, and “ugliness” to failure.

More and more adolescents resort to dieting, and eventually disordered eating, to attain their idealized figure. A diet can be healthy, but not always. A person (or animal’s) diet needs to specifically fulfill their needs. Some people need to stay away from gluten, due to Celiac Disease. Others might need more protein in order to build muscle. Most of the time, the media tries to tell us that certain diets can help one “lose weight fast” by cutting calories, carbohydrates, or fats. While their claims may be true, it doesn’t mean that this kind of diet is healthy for everyone. Calories, carbohydrates, and fats are required at different quantities for different people, and are essential to life. Nonetheless, the way the media portrays these diets can influence people to believe that they’re”good, healthy diets” for everyone, justifying what can become anorexia or orthorexia.

Of course, the media isn’t the sole cause of eating disorders. Eating disorders might emerge from past experiences with bullying. They might be triggered by a highly stressful point in life, when one feels their only sense of control is in what they eat. Often times, they start off as an attempt to eat healthier, but become addiction later on. Other forms of eating disorders, like bulimia and binge eating disorder, stem from emotional eating. Lastly, there is EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified).

Among Latinas, food culture conflicts with American standards. Food can be a big part family and social life in Latin countries, but not so much in America.

“In my experience, the eating disorder started as anorexia but it was was hard to maintain because food is such an important part of my culture and it’s always being presented or pushed,” explains Anahi Ortega.

If a Latina has a bad relationship with food, her traditional family might not understand its mental and emotional value, treating it as a physical problem. The food culture also makes binge eating and bulimia easier to hide. As a result, many Latinas go undiagnosed. 10% of Americans were found to experience an eating disorder sometime in their life, while at least yearlong present anorexia was found to be 0.02%, bulimia at 0.92%, and binge eating disorder at 1.19% in Latinas.

The low percentages are evidence that eating disorders need to be made more aware of and become less of a taboo to Hispanic culture.

Decolonize Your Diet: Latin American Superfoods

Raw Organic Quinoa Seeds

Raw Organic Quinoa Seeds

In recent years there has been a movement towards healthy living, which includes eating a healthier diet. As more and more Latinos face health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and different forms of cancer, it is extremely important to take care of our bodies. The easiest way to accomplish this is by changing our diet. Food blog Decolonize Your Diet teaches people the importance of eating natural food: “it is time to reclaim our cultural inheritance and wean our bodies from sugary drinks, fast food, and donuts. Cooking a pot of beans from scratch is a micro-revolutionary act that honors our ancestors and the generations to come.” So maybe we ought to think twice before we pass on the beans.

Here are 10 foods you can introduce to your diet that are not only super healthy, but can help you connect back to your ancestral roots:

Quinoa has been all the craze lately, this grain is a popular substitute for rice. It is rich in nutrients and acts as a complete source of protein (something that can’t be said about other grains). Quinoa is rooted in Andes region of South America. It was one of the two significant sources of food for the Incas, the other being maiz.

Bell Peppers:
Bell peppers are full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients, which provides potential anti-cancer benefits. Bell peppers have also been found to provide 7 percent of total vitamin C intake. Bell peppers have been cultivated for over 9000 years in South and Central America. It was first “discovered” by European colonizers in the 1500-1600’s.

Chia Seeds:
Chia seeds used to be available in certain health stores, the superfood seeds have become so popular that they are now common place in restaurant menus, and grocery store isles. There are about 140 calories per two tablespoons along with omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and protein. These seeds are popular as additives in fruit smoothies and shakes since they contain all nine essential amino acids, which are essential for muscle-building. Other popular ways to eat them include sprinkling into yogurt, oatmeal, or in a salad.

The chayote, native to Mexico, is a member of the squash family. In fact the word chayote derives from the Nahuatl word chayotli. Chayote comes in two forms, prickly and smooth. It can be eaten raw in salads or stuffed and baked. Other preparations include mashing, pickling, frying, or boiling. The chayote contains fiber and is high on potassium and low on sodium which makes it good for supporting healthy blood pressure.

Sweet Potatoes:
Sweet potatoes are native to Central and South America and have been consumed since prehistoric times. Sweet potatoes are loaded with antioxidants and minerals, such as manganese, iron, and vitamins C,E, and D. Their high potassium content is great for lowering blood pressure because it removes excess sodium and regulates fluid balance in the body. They also help in reducing stress since they can help relax muscles and steady nerves. Sweet potatoes should be steamed or boiled when cooked to get the most nutritional benefit.

Sunflower Seeds:
Sunflower seeds make a great go-to snack and are readily available almost everywhere. These seeds are the actual seeds of the sunflower plant and have been eaten by Native Americans for over 5,000 years. They not only help get you through until your next meal but they contain high amounts vitamin E, magnesium, and  selenium which helps in preventing cardiovascular disease, maintaining healthy bone production and reducing cholesterol.

It is no small secret that papayas are native to Latin America. This delicious fruit was once called the “fruit of the angels” by Christopher columbus. It contains high levels of vitamin E as well as the digestive enzyme, papain, which  has been shown to help with inflammation and to improve healing from burns.

Blueberries are often included in health lists for their high antioxidant values and associated health value. However, what many don’t know is that this superberry is native to North America and Native Americans used different parts of the plant for medicinal purposes.

Peanuts are not actually nuts, they’re legumes (similar to peas, lentils, and other beans) and are believed to have originated in South America.  Peanuts grew as far north as Mexico when the Spanish began their exploration of the “New World.” Peanuts are rich in fat, the kind of fat you want in your body. The monounsaturated fats in peanuts are important for a healthy heart. In fact they have higher levels of antioxidants than apples or carrots, which helps reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease.

The cashew nuts, as you know them, are actually the seeds stuck at the bottom of the cashew apple. They belong to the same family as the mango and pistachio and are native to Brazil.The fruit is actually considered a delicacy in Brazil, and the juice of the cashew apple is considered a popular beverage. The nut itself contains many of the same benefits as peanuts, and it contains essential unsaturated fatty acids as well as monounsaturated fats that are good for your heart.

Finding Comfort in Family

Hispanic girk looking sad

Living with a sibling who has a mental illness can be hard, there’s no doubt about it. And that goes for any mental illness – whether it be depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, and so on. For one, it’s almost always hard to understand what they’re going through and, naturally, you want to help but might not exactly know how to. There also might be the problem of being a little jealous of the attention your brother/sister has been getting. It’s okay, you can admit it. We all go through it, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t.

A lot of mental illnesses come from a person’s DNA and all of the science stuff that makes them a person. Some are genetic, which means that someone in your family might have it and it was inherited by your sibling. Some are just chemical imbalances in the brain. Whatever the reason, scientific or not, no one chooses to be mentally ill, and that’s important to remember.

Mental illnesses affect 30 percent of young girls and teens in the United States, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). And 7.4 percent of the world have a mental illness. The most common mental illness is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), and some symptoms of that are: constantly being worried about things, not being able to relax, difficulty concentrating, muscle aches, sweating and nausea.

These are not all of the symptoms listed by the NIMH, and someone may not have all of the symptoms of GAD, but if they have a handful of them, it would be best to check on them and possibly take them to see a doctor.

GAD can also lead to having depression, the two tend to go hand in hand in some cases. As far as depression is concerned, about 13 percent of girls between the ages of 12 and 17 have major depression. Although there are different kinds of depression, some of the symptoms of the most basic kind of depression are: being sad for long periods of time, feeling guilty for many things, loss of interest in hobbies, getting tired often or easily, trouble sleeping or constantly waking up, change in weight and irritability.

It is important to remember that not everyone with the symptoms of a mental illness will have a mental illness, but if a sibling seems to have several of the symptoms, it would be wise to get them help or to talk to them. That goes for any mental illness. Keep an eye on them to see how they act over a period of time so you can see if they fit the list of symptoms you have looked up. And there are many other mental illnesses that are not the most common in the world that your sibling could possibly have as well. Mental illnesses are not just confined to General Anxiety Disorder and Depression.

It’s also important to remember that living with a sibling who has a mental illness can be life changing for the both of you. Things in the household can change completely and that’ll have an effect on you.

Everyone reacts to things differently, but Andrea Lugo, 19, was very certain in how she’d feel if her older sister, Yazmin, had a mental illness. “I believe it would be a lot more stress put on me with everything I have going on,” she said. “But she’s my big sister and whatever I could do to help get her through what she’s going through, I’ll put everything aside to be that little sister to do whatever needs to be done for her.”

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the best way to deal with a sibling who has a mental illness is to learn what their mental illness is and get a better understanding of it. That’ll definitely make it seem less scary to you because you’ll actually know what’s going on. You can ask a family member to explain it to you and if you’re both still pretty confused about it, using the internet can be a huge help too.

Yazmin Lugo, 21, said she’s not completely sure how she’d handle her younger sister having a mental illness. “As her big sister, I would definitely try to talk to her and then to figure what the root of the problem is.” She also said that if she needed assistance with getting her sister help, she would make sure to go to her mother.

Once you know what the mental illness is, don’t try and fix everything on your own. Mental illnesses cannot be cured, but they can be treated. So if you’re sibling is already getting help, that’s great! Now make sure you take care of yourself as well. While it is totally understandable to want to help out your brother or sister, you have to make sure you’re doing okay too. Sometimes being a little selfish can be a good thing when it comes to your own health and emotional stability.

According to Psychology Today, there are a few self-care tips that several psychologists follow and you can follow too:

  1. Pets! If playing with a pet is something you love to do, and just being around a pet tends to make you happy, doing this whenever you aren’t feeling well emotionally can actually help you feel better and it gives you a reason to play with your animal.
  2. Love: this may not be for everyone, but if you’re a huge hugger, asking friends or family for a hug can easily help you out. It’s a great reminder that these people are there for you can help you out, even if you don’t want to talk about what’s wrong at the moment. Hugs can make you happier.
  3. Laughter is huge for self-care. Whether it’s a funny joke or a funny picture or just a funny face, if it makes you laugh, take advantage of it! Laughter = smiling = happiness, and it just naturally makes a person feel good.
  4. Breathing exercises are good for calming yourself down. If you’re feeling stressed out, just take a moment — a minute or two, if you have the time — and focus on your breathing. This can also help you get to sleep, if you’re having trouble with that. Breathe in through your nose for four seconds, hold the breath for seven seconds, breathe out through your mouth for eight seconds. If these amounts of time don’t work for you, don’t worry. Adjust it to whatever you feel comfortable with.
  5. Yoga/Stretching/Exercise: If Yoga isn’t something that interests you, stretching and exercise can be great for self-care too. It helps you release chemicals from your brain that are scientifically proven to put you in a better mood. Plus, it can just be fun. Yoga is good for meditating and focusing on your body, rather than the things going on around you. This too can be really great for relaxing and caring for yourself.

Lastly, remember you’re not alone in all of this. Find comfort in your own family – parents, brothers and sisters without a mental illness, cousins – if they know about the mental illness. You’re all in this together. If not, you can always try talking to your friends or school counselor about the situation as well. Talking about it can always help.

Super Food Diet from Peru

Here’s to saying goodbye to unhealthy diets, and hello to the Peruvian Super Foods diet.

According to the Boston Medical Center, about 45 million Americans of all ages diet each year. Dieting should only be done when completely necessary – generally when there is a medical issue that is forcing the diet. Dieting when not necessary can be dangerous for anyone, especially teens whose bodies are constantly changing and in all sorts of ways.Remember, a few changes in a girl’s body shape almost never means a diet is necessary. If a teen or parent is curious about going on a diet, it is best to speak with a doctor about it before trying one out to make sure it is safe for her body.

If a diet is needed, this one may be the way to go. All of the meals in the Peruvian Super Foods diet are healthy and natural, which is the ideal way to diet. With Manuel Villacorta’s new super foods diet, people all around the world can lead can throw out their old diets (that probably aren’t allowing them to eat enough each day), and start leading healthier lives. Manuel Villacorta is an award-winning registered dietitian, author, spokesperson, and educator who just came out with his newest book, “Whole Body Reboot: The Peruvian Super Foods Diet To Detoxify, Energize, And Supercharge Fat Loss.”

What exactly is a super food though? Super foods are types of food that do not have many calories but still have high amounts of nutrients. These are the dream diet foods the world has been hoping for, and they’ve always existed, but now is when more and more people are becoming aware of them.

“The benefits of consuming Peruvian super foods are astonishing: from fighting cancer and reducing inflammation to boosting energy and enhancing memory,” said director of communications for HCI Books, Kim Weiss.

And if eating low-cal nutritious foods aren’t enough, Villacorta’s book doesn’t give meals for just anyone. He offers meals geared toward women and men, as well as specific meals that are vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, as well as for omnivores.

Instead of telling the people trying out his diet how it works, he explains everything from why he chose certain foods to make a meal to how it can help cure certain diseases and promote healthier lives.

Don’t worry about these meals lacking flavor, either. Villacorta’s meals have their own Latin twist on it. For example, he took his mother’s dish called Pallares and changed some things here and there to make it healthier.

Villacorta said in his book, “(my mother) tasted my version, said I did her justice, and gave me her blessing to share this dish with you. Buen provecho!”

Here is the recipe for his version of Pallares:

2 Cups Butter Beans

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

1 Medium Yellow Onion, diced

4 Cloves Garlic, sliced

1 Tablespoon Oregano

8 Cups Vegetable Stock

1 Cup Dry Sherry

Salt and Pepper

½ cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

1. Put the beans in a stockpot and cover them with 3 inches of water. Let them soak for 4 hours. Drain the beans in a colander, discarding the water.

2. Transfer the beans back to the stockpot and cover with 3 inches of water. Bring them to a boil over medium heat. Drain the beans in a colander, discarding the water (this process helps remove the oxalates in beans that are responsible for gastrointestinal discomfort).

3. Using the same pot, heat the oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions, garlic, and oregano. Sauté until the onions begin to soften.

4. Add the beans, stock, and sherry to the pot and bring to a boil. Season the beans with salt and pepper to taste. Cover, reduce heat, and cook at a simmer for about an hour or until the beans are soft. Stir in the parmesan cheese. Serve warm.

Per Serving: Kcal 188g, Protein 9g, Carb 16g, Fat 6g, Sodium 874.5mg, Dietary Fiber 3.5g

Daily Values: Fiber 14%, Vit C 3%, Vit A 2%, Vit D 5 1%, Calcium 22%, Iron 10%

He even offers all of the nutrition facts at the end of every recipe so dieters can know what they are actually putting into their bodies.

Cooking this may seem a little hard, especially shopping for the right ingredients. So why not make it a family dinner? It never hurt to try something new, especially if it’s yummy and healthy. Getting together with the entire family to try this meal, or any meal in his book, could be a lot of fun – especially if you get tired of eating the same types of meals all the time.

Villacorta said it himself, “I don’t kill flavor for health. You can have both; a flavorful and healthy meal. I can teach you how in Whole Body Reboot!”

To have a Quince Mass or Not?

Photo courtesy from

Photo courtesy from

The religious ceremony has been a constant tradition in the Quinceañera celebration until recently. While some girls choose to continue the religious tradition, others do not.  While planning (or even just thinking of) a Quinceañera celebration, one element of the festivities always comes to mind: the religious ceremony.

According to, “the quinceañera mass is a thanksgiving for [the Quinceañera’s] first 14 years of life.” Nowadays, the religious ceremony is seen as an optional part of the quince celebration. Girls having a quince use their religious beliefs (or lack thereof) to determine whether or not to have a religious ceremony.

For April Reza, 19, she had her quince in 2010 and said having a religious ceremony was easy. “It’s something I always wanted since I was little,” she remembers with a smile. Growing up as a Catholic in an all-Catholic household, April saw the religious ceremony pass down as a tradition in her family. “It’s something we always do,” she says.

Since having a religious celebration is a tradition in her family, it was very well received. April recalls, “They really enjoyed it…they wish they could’ve done the whole thing over again.”

While some girls like April go the traditional route, others like to be different. Nastassia Artalejo, a self-employed photographer who had her quince in 2006, chose to not have a quinceañera.

Raised in a non-religious household and being agnostic herself, Nastassia says that having a religious ceremony was “not important [for me]. I just wanted to be there to celebrate what my parents thought was an important birthday.”

While Nastassia’s parents were fine with her not having a ceremony, her extended family did not have a similar reaction. “It was confusing for the rest of my family that I wasn’t having a ceremony because they are all Catholic. My cousins all had ceremonies at churches, but I didn’t,” she recalls.

Ultimately, a religious ceremony should be something you “do…for yourself”, says Nataly Monique Montana, a 10th grader who recently had her quince in 2012.

Nataly was raised as a baptist but was not officially baptized in her church. In order for her to have had a religious ceremony at her church, she and her parents would have had to go through a series of religious meetings with the priest of her church and be baptized.  When Nataly and her parents were planning her quince they realized that there wouldn’t be enough time before her quince. Nataly and her parents were not disheartened because they couldn’t have a ceremony, and, instead, Nataly says her dad and her said a prayer during the quinceañera which she remembers being personal and fulfilling.  Despite Nataly coming from a religious upbringing she recalls,  “no one said anything” about her not having had a religious ceremony.

While having a religious ceremony as part of a quince is customary, girls planning their quince shouldn’t feel pressured to follow in tradition’s footsteps for the sake of doing so. According to, a girl renews her baptismal vows and promises to honor herself and her religion before God and her community at the ceremony. This carries a lot of religious and cultural significance, so don’t do it if your heart and personal beliefs aren’t in it. Remember, it is your big day, so make it yours in your own special way, with or without a ceremony.

Breakfast Ideas For Girls-On-The-Go

Do you ever feel like the most rushed and crazy part of the day happens right after your alarm rings in the morning to the moment you step out the door? Well, you are not alone! Whether it’s school, work or practice that you are waking up for, most girls can agree that mornings are not always a walk in the park! Between trying to pick out an outfit, doing your hair, applying makeup and getting your bag ready, it easy to forget to eat the most important meal of the day, breakfast!

We are all guilty of taking an extra ten minutes on our hair, rushing out of the door with an empty stomach and having to deal with embarrassing stomach growls until lunchtime. It is easy to forget that eating breakfast can make your day run a lot more smoothly. According to the American Dietetic Association, children and teens who consume a healthy breakfast behave better and perform better in school and they are able to remain focused until the next meal. This explains why you may feel sluggish or sleepy throughout the day when you skip breakfast. Skipping breakfast also decreases your metabolism and may cause you to overeat at lunchtime. People who eat breakfast regularly have a good metabolism, and can keep a healthy weight.

Taking a couple of minutes out of your busy morning to eat breakfast is definitely worth it! Check out theses delicious breakfast ideas that are perfect for a girl on-the-go!

Banana Breakfast Bread


  1. 1/2 Small Banana
  2. 2 Slices Wheat bread


  1. Toast the bread
  2. Cut each slice in half
  3. Cut banana in small slices
  4. Lay three slices of banana on each half and spread with a butter knife
  5. Sprinkle Cinnamon toast seasoning on each half
  6. If you don’t have the seasoning available you can use ground cinnamon and truvia (sugar)



Pina Colada Yogurt Parfait


  1. 1/3 cup(s) reduced-fat vanilla yogurt
  2. 1/2 cup(s) crushed canned pineapple, or canned mandarin oranges
  3. 1 tablespoon(s) coconut


  1. Top yogurt with pineapple (or canned mandarin oranges) and coconut.



Breakfast Smoothie


  1. 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) plain fat-free yogurt
  2. 3 to 4 bananas, peeled, cut into chunks
  3. 14 ounces strawberries, stems removed, roughly chopped to equal 3 cups
  4. 1/4 cup skim milk or soy milk
  5. 2 tablespoons honey
  6. 1 cup ice


  1. Gradually add all ingredients to the jar of a blender; puree until smooth. Serve.

(Smoothies can be prepared the night before and refrigerated overnight!)


Cereal “Sundae”


  1. A bowl of fiber-rich bran flakes (about 1½ cups)
  2. Lemon or vanilla yogurt
  3. 1/4 cup of nuts or fresh or dried fruit, such as chopped pecans or blueberries.


  1. Combine all the ingredients!

(Make it portable by replacing the milk with and mixing it in a to-go container.)



Kicked-Up Quesadilla


  1. 2 flour tortillas (regular or whole-wheat)
  2. 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar
  3. Several thin slices of a Granny Smith apple


  1. Sprinkle an even layer of cheese over one tortilla.
  2. Scatter the apple slices on top of the cheese and top with the remaining tortilla.
  3. Microwave for 30 seconds or until the cheese melts.
  4. For a crisper tortilla, use a large skillet and crisp for 1-2 minutes on both sides, until the cheese is melted.
  5. Cut into 6-8 wedges.



Whole-Grain Toast with Yogurt and Pistachios


  1. 4 tablespoons nonfat Greek yogurt
  2. 2 slices whole-grain toast
  3. 2 tablespoon honey
  4. 2 tablespoon shelled pistachios


  1. Spread nonfat Greek yogurt on whole-grain toast.
  2. Drizzle each with honey.
  3. Sprinkle each with shelled pistachios.
  4. Serve immediately.





Eating Disorder – Silent Killer

It’s hard to imagine how a small comment can affect us enormously. A negative comment from her cousin about her weight pushed Alma to diet. Alma’s diet soon became an addiction and turned into an eating disorder. Her life as a 15-year-old girl, navigating her high school years, changed dramatically when she discovered that she wasn’t happy with her body. Alma wasn’t happy with the life she had in that moment and felt like she didn’t fit in with the people around her. It was difficult for her to see beyond what she saw in her mirror every morning. Today, Alma is 19-years-old and overcoming anorexia. She shared her experience battling anorexia with us.

How did your anorexia begin?

My trigger was a comment I received from my cousin. One day, she told me I would never be thin. That is when I said, “Enough.” I would not allow my weight to be a hindrance to feeling the way I wanted to. My initial excuse was that I wanted to wear a two-piece swimsuit. This was the first of my excuses to start “harmless” diets.  I always had problems with my body image. For me, it was a reflection that something was wrong with me. Then, it struck me that perfection, or what could make me happy, was to be thinner. My diet soon began turning into an obsession. It was awful. The truth is that now I regret that first thought so much because it is was what triggered [my anorexia].

What did your friends and family tell you about your appearance?

At first, they all praised me when I started losing weight and told me I looked great. Then as time passed, so did my control and I began to see myself decline. My mom took me to a specialist; I recovered for three months.  I fell into a problematic relationship with a guy who had the same problem as I did—that was a big mistake. Suddenly, my relationship with him ended in a bad way. I started thinking it was because of my weight and in less than three months I lost 15 pounds again.  My family became alarmed about my weight, but nobody said anything because it was a subject no one wanted to talk about. I blamed it on being stressed about school and told them that was the reason I had stopped eating as much. Every day, I was eating less and less, until it became more noticeable. My parents noticed a missing patch of missing hair [due to the anorexia].

What was going through your mind at that moment?

It was quite scary. The only thing I thought was that that if I gained weight, my whole effort, my whole self, would go away. All that I had been through would have been for nothing.  I was not afraid of dying or what would happen to me further on. I was afraid others wouldn’t like me if I gained weight. There came a time when I was afraid to leave my house because for me that meant having to eat and that I would lose control of myself. It was like living in hell. I swear it was awful; I did not enjoy anything because of the fear I had about myself. I remember I was suffering at night because of hunger pains. It was an awful pain and it was an internal struggle, too. I thought I would die of depression at the time. I didn’t want to eat because nobody would accept me otherwise. The thing is, I was a compulsive eater before being anorexic. I was afraid to return to the same situation.

How did you stop?

One day, my dad showed me an image on his computer of a girl who looked like a skeleton and he told me I looked like that girl. He said that little by little I was going to kill myself. He told me that he was going to kick me out of the house if I didn’t get better. I didn’t understand why he was getting mad at me and threatening to kick me out of the house. I was the ideal child; I had the best grades and didn’t go out very often. He had no right to say absolutely anything. I told him he did not have any right to tell me what was wrong with me. Then, he said something that clicked in my head and made me cry. He told me, “Children should bury their parents. I will not dare bury you and stand in there, crying by your grave.” He was afraid I was going to die because of my anorexia and that made me realize how serious my problem was.

Do you still struggle with any emotional or physical problems caused by anorexia?

It left me with many problems. Even now, I still struggle with health problems, but treatments are normalizing my system for now. It’s a daily struggle with looking in the mirror and not getting carried away with letting negative thoughts get to me. Besides, my family constantly pressures me not to fall again into the same disorder. It’s not easy, I had one and a half years of therapy.

Why do you think eating disorders are a big problem for today’s youth?

Girls need to realize that not everything in life has to be thin or fat. If they obsess about being thin, then they are slowly destroying themselves with thoughts that don’t help them. Eating disorders are a big problem because people don’t know what the consequences are and how serious a problem it can be.

Do you still struggle with anorexia?

Yes and I think I will my whole life. It’s a mistake that I will always be paying for.

What would you say to girls who face similar eating disorders?

I would tell them to be aware of the consequences of their actions. It can take an emotional toll not only on you, but on all those around you. Eating disorders affect your whole family. This can lead to death and cause pain and suffering for your whole family. If you don’t want to focus on healing for yourself, you should think about your family and how it will hurt them to see your suffering this way.

5 Ways to Boost Your Self Esteem

1. Volunteer
Why volunteer?  Well, it makes you feel good AND it makes you look good.  Have you ever done a good deed that made you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?  When you volunteer, someone is counting on you for something.  It makes us feel good when we are needed and when we make a difference.  On the plus side, volunteering is a great way to build your resume!  In the future ,when you apply for college or a job, you will have valuable “real life” experience.  According to, youth who plan to complete college are much more likely to volunteer at least once a month compared with other youth.

2. Work Your Body
According to the Center for Disease Control, regular physical activity increases self-esteem, among several other benefits.  So bllast your favorite song and dance like no one’s watching, take your dog for a walk around your neighborhood, go to that Zumba class you’ve secretly been wanting to try out, or go to the park and play on the monkey bars!  The goal is to get up, get out and move your body!  It’s the best and most instant pick-me-up there is!

3. Read a Book & Be a Smarty Pants
A good book is a great way to escape your world and enter someone else’s and it’s a bittersweet feeling when you reach the end of a story.  You don’t want it to end, but it feels good to turn that last page and close the book.  The National Endowment for the Arts says that on average, Americans ages 15 to 24 spend almost two hours a day watching TV, and only seven minutes of their daily leisure time on reading.  Being a couch potato does nothing for your self esteem, but being well read gives you confidence because you speak and write better.  It gives you a whole new perspective on the world and you may find yourself joining a conversation on a bestseller or connecting with another person on a classic.

4. Celebrate You
A girl’s self esteem peaks at 9 years old according to  More than 90 percent of girls  between the ages of 15 to 17 years want to change at least one aspect of their physical appearance, with body weight ranking the highest.  Nothing good will ever come from putting yourself down.  You determine how others will perceive you with your very own words and actions. Think and speak positive words about you.  Take out a pen and paper and write down what you like about yourself.  Leave a sticky note on your mirror that greets you with kind words.  Keep reminding yourself about how wonderful you are and you will feel better about yourself.

5. Inspire yourself
Make a “boost book” that celebrates your ambitions.  Decorate it and keep track of inspiring quotes.  Collect favorite pictures and mementos in it.  Then, you can refer back to it on those days when you’re feeling a little insecure.  It will remind you that your best days are still ahead of you and dreaming big will keep you excited and eager for the future!

Diabetes – The Silent Killer

Like many other Hispanic families, my family has its battle with diabetes. My mother was the first to be diagnosed. Her diabetes was set off by her first pregnancy. It later developed into a permanent condition. Afterward, my uncle and my maternal grandmother where diagnosed with diabetes. A few years ago my paternal grandmother was also diagnosed with the same condition. Having so many members of my family suffer from diabetes makes me a potential candidate to suffer from it as well. Unfortunately, there are many young people like me who are at risk.

In the year 2007, the Center of Disease Control and Prevention reported that approximately 24 million people in the U.S. had diabetes. Of this staggering number about 10% were Hispanic. That means that in 2007 about 2 million Hispanics in the U.S. suffered from diabetes. As a matter of fact, diabetes is mostly prevalent among Latinos.

What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a medical condition that causes levels of sugar, or glucose, to rise in the body. The problem starts at the pancreas, an organ under the stomach that makes the hormone insulin which helps regulate glucose levels in body cells. Insulin also helps the body turn glucose into energy. When the pancreas is unable to make enough insulin or the body cannot use the insulin, the insulin starts to accumulate in the blood resulting in diabetes. The reason this can be dangerous is because it could lead to health complications such as blindness, kidney failure and amputations.

Both genetics and the type of lifestyle a person leads can affect a person‘s probability of having this disease. There are two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. When a person has type 1 diabetes, the body produces very little or no insulin at all. It is usually diagnosed in children and teens and is believed to be genetic. Type 2 diabetes is more common and has been linked to excess weight and inactivity. People who suffer from type 2 diabetes either do not produce enough insulin or their bodies reject the insulin they produce.

Spotting the Symptoms
The main symptoms of diabetes type 1 and 2 are frequent urination, increased thirst and increased hunger which are caused by the increased levels of glucose in the body. Other symptoms might include fatigue, blurred vision, wounds that don’t heal, skin infections, and numbness or tingling in the hands and feet.

“We ask that you learn to identify differences in your body. If all of a sudden you’re experiencing [symptoms] and you know it’s not normal then you should check yourself,” Ms. Krasey said, Marketing Coordinator at the Diabetes Association.

Treating the Disease
It’s important to diagnose and treat diabetes early. “Diabetes is called the silent killer. Usually what happens is that you fail to identify the symptoms and as time goes by there can be complications,” Ms. Krasey cautioned. The sugar accumulated in the body can cause damage to blood vessels. Kidneys are made up of tiny blood vessel clusters and can be damaged severely which can require a transplant if diabetes is not treated. High blood sugar levels affect the eye blood vessels which can eventually lead to blindness. Diabetes can also increase the risk of heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

Eating well and exercising regularly are essential to maintaining control of sugar levels and having a long life. Diabetes has no cure, so a person diagnosed with it who wishes to live a healthy life must commit to lifelong changes in their lifestyle. Blood sugar monitoring is a vital part of treating diabetes and it can save a person’s life. Changing glucose levels can be dangerous. Blood sugar monitoring is the only way to keep track of blood sugar levels which can change suddenly even with a strict diet. When a person’s blood sugar levels are at an extreme high or low, the person must seek immediate medical attention; seek an adult’s help or call 911.

For all type 1 and some type 2 diabetics insulin injections are essential to survive. However, oral insulin is also available for type 2 diabetics who are able to successfully control their insulin levels. There are many groups, such as the American Diabetes Association, that provide classes and support groups to help people learn how to treat diabetes and maintain a healthful lifestyle. If you think you might have diabetes, they can also provide low cost exams.

Living with Diabetes
Maria Teresa Cerqueira, Chief of the U.S.-Mexico Border Office for the World Health Organization stresses that the key to prevent diabetes is to maintain a healthy weight. “People should find a way to move, to keep active.” She recommends people exercise for about an hour a day, by either walking more or doing other activities they enjoy. Group activates are a good way of keeping active while having fun. “You don’t have to be a supermodel, just be healthy.” Ms. Cerqueira also mentioned that to keep a healthy weight, it is important to maintain a good self-esteem and drink plenty of water.

Although diabetes is a serious condition, Ms. Krasey also stressed that diabetes is not contagious. “Some kids hear diabetes and they get scared.” There is no way to contract this disease from other people.

November is diabetes awareness month. Let’s help raise awareness by wearing blue on Nov. 14. Eat well, be active and encourage others to do the same. It’s the only way to prevent and stop this disease.

November 2010