Circular 1037-16
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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.

Many young children have strong preferences for some foods, and refuse to try others. There are many things you can do to encourage your child to eat a variety of foods.

Offer Choices
Allow your child to choose between two options. For example, ask, "Which would you like for dinner, spinach or broccoli?"

Provide One Meal for Everyone
Make the same meal for the whole family instead of making a special meal for your child. This encourages your child to try eating what was prepared.

Involve Your Child in the Kitchen
When children help prepare a meal, they are more likely to want to taste it. Helping in the kitchen also builds math and science skills, confidence, and responsibility.

Be Patient
Some children need to experience a food many times before they are willing to eat it.

*United States Department of Agriculture. (2011). MyPlate: Picky Eating. Retrieved from

Family Fun Activity: Food Finder

Use this easy activity to help your child learn.

What You Need:

  • Grocery store

What To Do:

  • Next time you go to the grocery store, invite your child to come with you
  • Explain that he or she will be the "Food Finder" at the store
  • Allow your child to choose one new fruit or vegetable for the family to try at dinner
  • Serve your child's choice at the next meal
  • When your child chooses the new food, he or she is more likely to try it


This is publication 16 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
Unpublished/Removed on May 13, 2014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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