Many people want to eat healthier, but they often fail in these attempts. We report two field studies in an elementary school cafeteria that each demonstrate children eat more of a vegetable (carrots, broccoli) when we provide it first in isolation versus alongside other more preferred foods. We propose this healthy first approach succeeds by triggering one's inherent motivation to eat a single food placed in front of them, and works even though they have prior knowledge of the full menu available and no real time constraints. Consistent with this theory, and counter to simple contrast effects, an additional lab study found that presenting a food first in isolation had the unique ability to increase intake whether the food was healthy (carrots) or less healthy (M&M's). Our findings demonstrate the effectiveness of this simple intervention in promoting healthier eating, which should interest consumers, food marketers, health professionals, and policy makers.