Circular 1037-18
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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.

You can play a large role in helping your family maintain a healthy lifestyle. By demonstrating healthy behaviors for your children, you can encourage them to follow your positive example. Young children learn about the world by watching adults they trust. Children imitate their parents' behaviors both during play and in their own lives.

You can help your child learn to eat a variety of foods by selecting items from several food groups to complete your own meals. Try to include foods of differing colors on your plate. Talk to your child about the variety of colors and foods groups from which you are eating.

Your child is always watching you, making it important for you to model healthy eating habits. Let your child see you eating breakfast, drinking water, eating
a variety of foods, stopping when you’re full, and being physically active.

You can also influence your child’s eating habits by buying and serving a variety of healthy foods. By supplying a variety of foods, you can encourage him or her to try healthy options.

Family Fun Activity: Trail Mix

Use this easy activity to help your child learn.

What You Need:

  • Dried fruit
  • Dry cereal
  • Nuts
  • Bowl
  • Spoon

What To Do:

  • Create a healthy trail mix with your child by mixing fruit, cereal, nuts, and other ingredients
  • Encourage your child to choose what goes into the trail mix
  • Have your child help mix the ingredients together
  • Talk to your child about the food groups of each item you add
    • Example: "Nuts give you protein that builds strong bodies"
  • Reinforce the importance of eating a variety of foods
  • Enjoy your healthy snack with your child


This is publication 18 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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