“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” ― Jean-Jacques Rousseau

I am fascinated watching our cat, Coco, eat. We mix three different dry cat food to add color and flavor into her menu. I notice there is one version of dry food she is not in favor of compared to the other two. I am amazed looking at how she separates the ‘better’ from the ‘bitter’. She often circles around her bowl just to get to those she likes more. Then she will be sassy with me to give her more food even though some is still in her bowl, the ‘bitter’ one. Many times, I talk to her, sit with her until she finishes her food. I do not refill her bowl until she finishes what is in there. She always finishes it, eventually. Meanwhile, I must deal with her sassiness.

“I know you want some more food, Coco, but I won’t give you any until you finish what’s in your bowl. This is good food for you. Healthier food sometimes does not taste as good as the other. Just know, it’s healthy for you. Trust me, I selected it for you.” My husband often laughs watching me talk to her, once added, “Have you tried her food?”

I was not a willing eater when I was a little girl. It took me hours to finish a meal. I was always the last one sitting at the table while everyone else had left. Then one day, my grandmother shared a trick with me, which solved the problem. I guess she noticed how I approached food and suggested a strategy on how to tackle it. She suggested that I eat the food I ‘dislike’ the most (the one my mom usually said was good for me), finish that one first, then eat the one I love. “That way, the taste lingers longer in your mouth, and you feel happy about the food you eat.” It worked like magic.

My grandmother introduced something clever that helped shift my perception, my approach toward food I did not like. It honestly has helped me approach other things in life as well. In life, given the options, I tend to tackle things I dread, I am not in favor of, first, then move on to the things I enjoy doing. If all of the things I must tackle fall in the category of ‘unfavorable’ things, I then plan a treat for myself when I am done with the tasks. I love watching documentaries and I have a list of what to-watch. I plan the tasks I must accomplish and how many hours they may take. I imagine the movie I am going to watch, which I can only watch when I am done with all, or the majority, of the tasks. It requires patience, but it is manageable knowing I am pulled by the sweetness of what I love watching, that is a treat. It works magic. You may experiment with this idea.  Handling the ‘bitter’ one first then savor the ‘better’ one longer.

On a side note:

If I know how to transfer this concept for Coco to embrace my grandmother’s smart strategy, I bet we can herd cats. I am wondering though if we can train cats? If any of you has a suggestion, I am all ears. “Good luck with that,” my husband says.

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