Fruits and Vegetables in the Shape of a Heart

by Cynthia Cruz

Reflecting on American Heart Month this February, the first thing that came to mind was my parents. They take pretty good care of themselves, but they could definitely do better. (Actually so could I!) We've talked in the past about what they could do food-wise to help prevent anything medically serious from happening. As much as they love me, I can see why it's difficult to heed their bossy daughter. I'm the one who gets told what to do, not the other way around. They've been relatively healthy all their lives without any serious hiccups so why should they listen to me? I used to send them dozens and dozens of links and recipes to see if just one more article could change their minds. As many people can probably attest to, there's only so far you can push others toward doing something that they're not familiar with or even mildly interested in. 

The last couple of years though, more and more family members or friends have unfortunately had to deal with a serious heart condition. The situation has increasingly become the norm rather than the exception. My parents started sending me texts here and there to ask me what the heck healthy fats are, and is avocado toast really a meal? Catching a whiff of interest in eating better for their health caused me to send an avalanche of health articles including this excellent one. As expected, they were a little put off by my... let's just call it "over enthusiasm" and gently told me to back off. Sensing a different approach was needed, especially when my mom told me I was overwhelming her with information, I started to ask them what they were interested in and slowly began to just talk with them, rather than talking at them. Then one day, they started sending me articles! Not to mention correcting me on a few facts -- it pays to read, not just skim apparently. Nowadays, we talk about doing some heart-health eating challenges together (still hasn't happen but I'm pretty sure it's going to happen soon), what kind of new nut mix they're snacking on, and more. 

Now that February is here, instead of me nagging my parents about this heart health situation, they are sharing the things they've learned with their friends, co-workers, and the rest of our family. Of course they don't give me my much-deserved credit for pushing them towards a healthier lifestyle! The injustice, I tell you. Now, when I tell them they should try to eat more spinach or try more smoothies, they finally listen to me! It might have taken a long time (years!) to get them more actively invested in their health but it was worth being a pain in their butts. Now if only I could get them to give me an allowance again. I know, I know, one life-changing problem at a time.