Circular 1037-04
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By Kathryn Tarulli, Dr. Diane Bales and Dr. Charlotte Wallinga — Department of Human Development and Family Science

Eat a Variety of Foods: Encourage your family to stay healthy by eating a variety of foods.


Eating a variety of foods helps you and your family stay healthy. Foods contain different nutrients, and no single food can provide all the nutrition our bodies need. When deciding what types of foods to serve, it is helpful to use resources such as MyPlate to help plan meals based on recommended servings.

MyPlate is divided into four sections, with an additional side item for dairy. The sections vary in size, indicating the different amounts we should eat of each food group. Model your family's plates off the MyPlate design to help your family eat a variety of foods while keeping portions under control.

Red & Green = Fruits & Vegetables
Serve fruits and vegetables of different colors, such as carrots, broccoli, and berries. Fill half of the plate with fruits and vegetables.

Orange = Grains
Use mostly whole grains, such as oatmeal or brown rice.

Purple = Protein
Choose lean, protein-rich options.

Blue = Dairy
Offer fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk

*USDA. (2011). MyPlate. Retrieved from

Family Fun Activity: MyPlate

Use this easy activity to help your child learn.

What You Need:

What To Do:

  • Talk about MyPlate with your child. Point out the different food groups
  • Explain to your child the need for a balanced diet
  • As you point out food groups, encourage your child to name a food in each group
  • Give your child a paper plate divided into sections
  • Challenge your child to name and color each group


This is publication 4 out of 24 in the Eat Healthy, Be Active: Keeping Children Healthy at Home and School series. For more information visit

Status and Revision History
Published on May 13, 2014
Published with Full Review on Mar 28, 2017

Diane W Bales Assoc Professor & Human Dev Spec, Family & Consumer Sciences
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