Walk the Walk
Trying New Foods Together
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Dietary Guidelines for Americans (PDF) recommends that we eat more fruits and vegetables, choosing at least a cup of fruit a day and a variety of vegetables—dark, green, and leafy vegetables; orange vegetables; beans; and peas. But how can you get your child to try new fruits and vegetables? Here are some tips from the Wisconsin Nutrition Education Program to help you model healthy eating habits and offer variety at your table.
- Offer new foods first. Hunger just might make children more willing to try something different.
- Model tasting new foods. Be willing to try new foods along with your child and be sure not to say anything if you don't like a particular food.
- Let your child choose. At the store, let your child look over the produce displays to choose a new fruit or vegetable.
- Serve new foods in different ways. Cooked vs. raw, sautéed vs. steamed—many possibilities that may be more appealing to your child.
- Do a taste test. Challenge your child to talk about the color, shape, feel, smell, and taste of a new food. Making new food "fun" may help your child over the hump.
- Offer new foods often. Never give up on the first or second try. New foods might have a taste that needs to be tried 5 or even 10 times before they become a chosen part of your child's diet.
- Encourage at least one bite. Stay positive. Try not to pressure your child to try new foods or punish your child if he/she won't try a bite.
- Stay relaxed. Remember, not all of us like everything. There are some foods your child will never enjoy.
- "Let's Try New Foods!" from the Wisconsin Nutrition Education Program is a short parents' guide to help make good family nutrition easy and fun.
- "Healthy Eating" from KidsHealth provides excellent tips for parents who want to help build healthy eating habits for the whole family.
- "Finding Your Way to a Healthier You" (PDF) from the USDA provides a guide for proper nutrition and exercise for all ages. Check out their key recommendations, too.
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