Healthy foods for the whole family

Try these easy-to-follow steps for introducing kids to new good-for-them tastes

Two dads and their young son cutting up peppers in the kitchen


This content is provided to Johns Hopkins employees through a partnership with EHP.

Now you have healthy food choices in your house. How do you get your family to eat them? Kids can be picky eaters. And they may resist new tastes. But your whole family can learn to eat healthy foods together.

Getting kids to try new foods

Kids may not want to eat foods that are new to them. That's normal. But forcing kids to eat can lead to fighting. It also makes parents and kids feel bad about food. How can you encourage them to try new tastes?

Have them help choose and prepare new foods. Take them to the grocery store with you and let them pick out a new fruit, vegetable, or other healthy food to try. When you get home, let them help with age-appropriate kitchen tasks, such as washing or chopping the produce, measuring and stirring ingredients, or setting the table. Kids often say, "I don't like it!" without even trying a food. To help your child get used to new foods, serve only a very small amount. Ask your child to at least taste it. Don't force it.

Set an example. Children look up to their parents and want to be like them. If they see you eating the new food yourself, they are more likely to give it a try, too.

Prepare and serve the new food in different ways. If your child didn't like the raw broccoli you served, try steaming it, roasting it, sautéing it as part of a stir-fry, or pairing it with some carrot sticks and using the food to make a funny face on the plate.

It may take a long time for your child to feel OK with a new food. You might have to serve it 10 or more times before your child accepts it. Don't give up. Over time, the food will be more familiar.

Don't overwhelm your child with too many new things at once. Try one new food at a time until your child becomes comfortable with it.

Don't reward kids for healthy eating

Have you ever offered your child dessert for trying a new vegetable at dinner? This can make kids think that a sweet food is better than a healthy one. Don't bribe your child to try new foods. Instead, ask your child to taste the new food and keep serving it until it becomes familiar.

One meal for the whole family

The whole family should be offered the same food. You don't have to give in to a picky eater's demands. You're not a short-order cook, so don't make different foods for each person.

Serve the new food to each family member. If your child doesn't want to eat it during the meal, that's OK; put that portion in the fridge for when hunger strikes later.

Your child might not be ready to eat a new food, so serve at least one healthy item that your child is already familiar with as part of each meal.

Learn more

With the uncertainties of returning to school and the realities of virtual learning, feeding our children is key to building their resilience during these challenging times. To get more info on feeding kids who are picky eaters, check out these resources:

Kids can be picky eaters. And they may resist new tastes. But your whole family can learn to eat healthy foods together.

Posted in Health+Well-Being

Tagged hr newswire