We all know eating well is important, but many parents are already so busy that it’s hard to know where to start. The good news is that eating better doesn’t have to be another project for you to take on. There are simple things you can do to help your family eat healthier, starting right now. Here are some ideas.

Make healthy swaps. You don’t need to overhaul your entire meal plan to eat better. Start by swapping fresh fruits and vegetables for more highly processed foods, or using fresh ingredients as toppings. Replace shredded cheese with diced avocado on Taco Tuesday, or try sprinkling steamed, chopped broccoli florets on baked potatoes. 

Switch up your cooking methods. Even if you eat the same foods, you can lighten them up and make them healthier by changing your cooking methods. Fire up the barbecue and grill some chicken instead of frying it in oil. Roasting, steaming, and braising food in broth are also healthier options. 

Make the most of snack time. Studies have shown that people consume many empty calories between meals. Replace those sugary treats and sodium-laden chips with easy-to-pack fresh fruits and vegetables like carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, or edamame.

Try Meatless Mondays. If changing your entire routine feels overwhelming, consider starting with just one day a week. Introduce your family to Meatless Mondays (or pick a different day of the week) and mix things up with a veggie stir fry, black bean tacos, portobello mushroom burgers, or even (gasp) tofu musubi.

Eat the rainbow. It’s no secret that colorful foods are packed with nutrients, and eating a wide variety is a great way to ensure kids get all the vitamins and minerals they need to be healthy. Encourage keiki to try a rainbow of foods. Or, turn it into a game and let kids pick a different color daily, then challenge them to see how many foods they can try in that color group. 

Let go of perfection. Remember that there’s no “right way” to eat healthily. By role-modeling sensible choices and teaching kids healthy habits, you’ll help them develop a positive relationship with food. In the long run, that’s much more important than convincing them to love kale or overcome their fear of tomatoes. 

Hawaii is a melting pot of cultures and cuisines, and whatever foods your family enjoys, you can make meals healthy and fun. By starting small, trying a few new things, and getting the whole family involved, you can make a positive change for your family’s health. For more healthy family tips, visit mauihealth.org/familynutrition.