My students will not forget this – Viridiana Cruz Contreras

My students will not forget this – Viridiana Cruz Contreras
Type 2 diabetes
A Mexican teacher shares how a WDF-supported project sparked a healthy food ‘obsession’ in her students, and changes in her own health and self-esteem.
Viridiana Cruz Contreras with her students at Federal Primary School Miguel Ahumada.

The programme Yo Quiero, Yo Puedo (I want, I can) changed my life, my way of thinking and seeing myself, from the very first training. 

I did not fully understand that many aspects of my daily diet were causing damage to my body. I realized that my eating habits were a health risk, because at 29 years old I was already over-weight. 

During the training I learned many useful things: they taught me how to calculate my body mass index, to measure my food portions, to know what it is a healthy and complete diet. From that training my diet changed. 

I started with the most difficult change, which was to leave the sodas: I drank two to three coconut sodas daily at school - my students even gave them to me. We started in class with the first sessions of the book and from there something in my students also changed, every day they reviewed the components of potato chips or juices that they consumed, they calculated how much exercise they would have to do to burn the calories that those treats contained. 

When they noticed that their teacher had managed to drink water every day instead of soda, they began to drink more water and even brought containers like glasses or thermoses with water from their homes. Several parents told me that their children were "obsessed" with the foods at home. They measured their calories and asked their parents to give them healthier food.

Those changes motivated me to continue with my goal, which was to reach my normal weight. I completely stopped eating fried food. I started having a more regular schedule for my meals; I started buying more vegetables and fruits. I took healthy food to school, and my proud stu-dents came to tell me that at lunch time their mother had added a fruit instead of cookies or junk. They saw that if I could leave all those junk foods, they could do it too.

I no longer felt bloated, my days were filled with more energy and I had changes in my self-esteem - I no longer recognised myself when looking in a mirror. I went from 64 kilos to 56 kilos, which was a great achievement and a great change in my personal life.  I felt happy.

Unfortunately, our country suffers from a terrible ignorance about our bodies and the harm that we cause ourselves. This programme is something my students will not forget and it will enable them to make more informed and responsible decisions about their health. 

I am infinitely grateful for the facilitators, their advice and support. My students and I remember them with great affection, hoping that Yo Quiero, Yo Puedo will continue and reach more schools in our country. 

The Yo Quiero, Yo Puedo programme was developed and rolled out via School-Based Diabetes Prevention Programme, WDF14-939