My Casa Experience: How Good Nutrition Changed My Life

Aarón Josué Fuentes ZambranoPsychology Student, Cuauhtémoc University

I was nine years old when I arrived at Albergue Los Pinos, a Casa Herbalife in Mexico. Looking back now, at 21 years old, I can honestly say that my experience there shaped me into who I am today.

Back then, it was just me, my kid brother, and my mother. She worked night shift at a parcel company, and her schedule made it difficult for her to take care of us. She normally arrived home just when my brother and I had to leave for school. This meant I had to take care of my little brother and of house chores, which were heavy duties for a small kid my age. As a result of this, getting adequate nutrition was a challenge — I was scrawny and often missed meals.

Sending my brother and I to Los Pinos was not an easy decision for my mother. I remember crying on my first day at the Casa. It was a new, unknown place for me and I felt scared. Little did I know about the impact that place would have on me in later years.

Finding Stability Through Good Nutrition

At Los Pinos, food became one thing I didn’t have to worry about. We had three meals a day, and I learned all about nutrition – which brought stability to my life because I wasn’t worried about when my next meal would come.

Thanks to the support Herbalife Nutrition Foundation gave to Los Pinos our kitchen was equipped with everything needed to cook healthy food. We also attended nutrition workshops once a month where a dietitian would teach us about mindful eating, serving sizes, healthy snacks, and similar topics.

I learned how to better take care of my health and wellbeing. I stopped eating too much junk food and even learned to cook!

It’s a strange joy when you make your own meal not out of necessity, but because of the pleasure of enjoying nutritious, healthy food.

How Good Nutrition Led Me to a Brighter Path

Once I started eating better on a regular basis, I gained more energy to focus on other activities offered at the Casa. I earned better grades and exceled at sports. For the first time in my life, I felt strong and motivated to follow my dreams.

I noticed that most of the workers at Los Pinos were psychologists, and experienced first-hand how much they helped underprivileged kids. I wanted to help others the same way they helped me, which has inspired me to pursue a career in psychology.

Today, when I’m not in class at the university, I help my mother run a small business where we sell fruits and legumes. I’m proud to contribute to my family’s business, not only because it provides financial independence, but because in some small way we are helping people to lead a healthier life.

Helping Kids Achieve Their Potential

I’m grateful for my experience in the Casa Herbalife program because it provided me with a foundation and knowledge that has motivated me into adulthood to work toward reaching my goals. My hope is for children in vulnerable communities to have access to programs like these so they too have a head start on reaching their full potential.

Because it’s not just about the food and not being hungry; it’s about the valuable life lessons on health and nutrition that can continue to shape the lives of these children, just like it did mine.