Sgt. 1st Class Tresa R. Boyd, NCOIC
Nutrition Care Division
Eisenhower Army Medical Center
It's April and spring is just a couple of weeks old. Lawns are green and azaleas have been popping all around. Pretty soon the farmers' markets will begin bringing in the bright, early harvests as thoughts turn to finding this year's best bathing suit and -- it can't get here soon enough -- the first tomato and bacon sandwich of the year.

Perhaps it's best to start with a healthy eating plan and exercise. We may join a gym, buy foods we consider healthy and set goals. Yet most end up not following through with their set out plans. They don't dedicate the time for the gym and revert back to bad eating habits. And, honestly, some of the New Years resolutions and boundaries we set for ourselves may have long ago fallen to the wayside. How do we set goals we can easily maintain?

When we look at food, what do we see? As defined in Merriam-Webster Dictionary: Food is a material consisting essentially of protein, carbohydrates and fat used in the body of an organism to sustain growth, repair, and vital processes and to furnish energy. That within itself is a mouthful.

Looking at food, we see texture, color, shape, volume and consistency. Then we smell the aroma and from there we decide if we want to taste it. We tend to eat with our eyes and not for nourishment. Eating with your eyes is a mindset. We tell ourselves, "that looks good," so in other words, "that must taste good."

In actuality we need to change our mindset and ask, "is that an essential nourishment for my body." How do we stop eating with our eyes and have a livable solution to a healthy diet?

Start by making food look appealing. When you walk into a restaurant and see a savory and appetizing rack of BBQ pork ribs, your mouth may start to salivate. Yet if you walk into one of these establishments and see a pale unseasoned chicken breast, it is not as appealing.

Eating with your eyes, you will most likely choose the ribs. To make a healthy choice that is more appealing to your eyes, look for a restaurant that may offer a flavorful rotisserie-roasted chicken. Your mindset of the appearance may alter your decision to choose what would be a healthy nourishment for your body. When relating to food, first impressions makes a big influence on the choices you make.

Eating the right foods, making healthy choices, and setting an attainable and livable goal will make you feel better mentally and physically.

Once you set your mindset in a positive direction, your eyes will automatically be drawn to the colorful salad bar. You will start to write a grocery list that includes healthier items. You will find substitutes for the things you crave.

Understand that craving potato chips may mean your body needs more potassium. So the next time your mind tells you to eat salty potato chips, try eating a banana and see if that craving goes away.

Clean your cabinets of unhealthy cravings and replace them with healthy alternatives the next time you go to the grocery store. Also take into consideration, your mind may tell you to go to the grocery store, followed by your hunger pains and this may lead you in the wrong direction. Eat a snack before grocery shopping, write a grocery list and stick to it, and do not let your eyes get the best of you.

Helpful tips for enjoying a healthy and nourishing plate that is appealing to the eyes include: Add colors to your plate with healthy orange, yellow and green vegetables. Layer your plate to give your mind the impression you have more. For example, on your four-ounce chicken breast put some tomatoes, seasoning, onions and mushrooms on a bed of quinoa.

Use a smaller plate and add an edible garnishment like an orange, strawberry or even lemon. Set your table in a comfortable place, sit down and enjoy your health meal.

Have an eye-opening healthy and nourishing meal you can enjoy with the entire family that looks like it's made by a chef.

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