Meet Maria


The day Maria De Los Angeles Orellana found out she had diabetes was just a regular day. She had gone to Parkland’s Bluitt-Flowers Health Center for a regular checkup. She walked away with a diabetes diagnosis.

“When I found out I had diabetes, I cried. I was depressed,” she said. “I was scared to not make it for my kids.”

Having seen both family and friends pass away from diabetes, she was worried about what the diagnosis meant for her. Initially, she didn’t say anything about it to her husband or her kids. After praying, she felt peace in her heart with the knowledge she needed to make changes.

Little changes

Her husband and children are her biggest cheerleaders. They support her and watch out for her, checking if she is taking her medicine and changing their diet to eat more vegetables and whole grains.

“It was hard at first but it has gotten easier,” Maria said about the changes she’s made to her diet and lifestyle. “I take my medicine and started walking a little bit. I walk around the house if I can’t go outside.”

Healthy eating

One of the biggest changes she made was eating more throughout the day. She used to eat only dinner, which, she said, was part of her problem because it caused her blood sugar to get too high. Now she has a vegetable smoothie for breakfast with her medicine. She also eats lunch and adjusted her diet to eat less bread and tortillas and more vegetables. Maria said she can see the difference and is losing weight.

Another challenge has been not having the money to buy healthier foods. Maria found a way to afford healthier food by watching the grocery store ads and buying whatever vegetables are on sale every week.

“If I don’t have the money, it’s hard to change but it’s important to do it,” Maria said. “Think about it this way – if you go out to eat, you’ll spend more money [than eating at home]. It’s better to look at the store specials and buy what’s on sale.”

Classes help

Diabetes education classes taught her the consequences of not taking care of her diabetes as well as how to eat healthier to help control her blood sugar. She found out that the problems with her vision, teeth and sleep that had plagued her were a direct result of her diabetes. Now that she has her sugar under better control, Maria says she feels a lot better.

“Parkland has helped me a lot,” she said. “If I didn’t have Parkland, I wouldn’t be able to do it.”

Maria has some advice for others struggling with a diabetes diagnosis.

“It’s important to have someone to help and support you. My whole family has gotten healthier. Try having a vegetable shake in the morning. You can do it!”

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