Ditching Processed Food 101 for Exhausted Founders

Ditching Processed Food 101 for Exhausted Founders

I’m into healthy habits — in case you missed it here, here, or here!

Sleep, exercise, and healthy food make it easier (possible?) to build companies because:

  • you feel good

  • your brain works

  • better emotional regulation (and optimism!)

Of course, like most things, sleeping, moving, and eating healthy food is simple but not easy.

Everyone knows they “should” but it’s overwhelming to add “one more thing” especially when you’re a busy founder!

It can also be overwhelming if you (like me!) are prone to “extreme implementation” when it comes to new ideas.

It looks something like this…

  • Read a book about carbs being bad → throw out all carbs

  • Listen to a podcast about how whole grain fiber helps longevity → re-buy carbs

  • Watch a documentary on farming → dig up backyard to grow your own food

  • Learn about a work “uniform” → buy 10 black turtlenecks, overnight shipping

  • Take 1 meditation class → launch meditation app to change the world

And those are just the personal examples! I didn’t even get into work improvements.

Bias-toward-action is great, of course. But total overhauls are not always the best way for a sustainable change or improvement.

It’s taken many years and many reminders from my husband to embrace the radical philosophy of GRADUAL IMPROVEMENT OVER TIME!!

My default mindset:

  • “If some is good, more is better.”

  • “Why go 25 mph when you could go 100 mph?????”

While it can work sometime, it can also backfire with burnout, poor adherence, or making you so miserable all the health benefits are negated!

Here is the story of one of my gradual improvement wins…eating less processed foods.

I share the process, the recipes, and how it can relate to anything you’re working on — no drastic overhaul required!

The Ah-Ha

One day I opened our fridge (probably after bingeing a nutrition podcast), took a hard look, and realized…this is not the kind of food I want to put in my body.

Nothing terrible.

We weren’t eating Twinkies every night.

But as a health nerd, it seemed like an area where I could improve and get more aligned with my wellness values!

I considered several realistic options:

  • (A) Move to a homestead, grow and cook all of my own food over an open flame

  • (B) Spend at least 3 hours per day making every item from scratch.

  • (C) Get better a little over time.

Sigh. Fine. I’ll go with boring, reasonable (C).

And guess what??? IT WORKED!

Here are the 4 steps I took to (slowly) kick (most) processed foods and you can too!

Or pick your personal “area of improvement”, apply these same gradual improvement principles, and behold the slow (but meaningful!) transformation.

1. Pick one (EASY) thing to start.

I picked one frequently-eaten processed food item to tackle at a time.

I found a recipe for that food with high ratings that seemed easy.

Easy is key.

I was looking for something I could do sustainably over time.

I don’t really like cooking. I want minimal steps, ingredients, and clean up.

Once I found a reasonable recipe, I made it!

Usually on a weekend, often while yelling at, I mean, working together with my kids.

2. Expect it to take a long time…at first.

The first 2-3 times, it would take a while to make the recipe.

All the checking back, making sure you get the amount and ingredient, knowing the technique or tools.

And 99% of the time, I’d forget a step or ingredient so it was mediocre to start.

Always plan to be the worst when you’re getting started!

3. Let the magic unfold.


I could pull out the ingredients without having to check the recipe 500x.

I learned how to consolidate steps or have fewer dishes to wash.

And one day I realized…


Watch out, Martha Stewart.

4. Add the next thing.

Here’s where the gradual comes in.

Once I had one food item mastered, I added another one.

I repeated steps 1-3 until that new recipe was on autopilot too.

It would take about a month or two per recipe.

It felt slow but within a year, I could reliably and easily make 6-7 homemade versions of common foods!

While we’re not quite an off-the-grid-grow-everything-homestead, we do have many more homemade items in our fridge.

And, we don’t always have homemade everything. That’s why it works. Progress over perfection!

Fave Recipes

If you’ve thinking about a new healthy habit, fighting off afternoon office-snack brain fog, looking for less expensive food options (homemade is usually cheaper!), or like the idea of eating stuff you make yourself, here are some go-to recipes!

I promise they are easy because I am lazy efficient. Also, for goodness sake, wash your food processor in the dishwasher. I also love the instant pot and our mini blender.

Here’s the stuff we DON’T make from scratch. Either we tried and it didn’t take or I took one look at the recipe and ran away screaming.

Some might call that quitting or lacking in resilience. I call it, PRIORITIES and ROI!!!! 😁

  • Corn chips

  • Kombucha

  • Crackers

  • Pretzels

  • Bagels

  • Pita bread

  • Kimchi

  • Dehydrated fruit or meat

Also, I do have friends that make all of these homemade so it’s possible! Just not for me right now.

Easy Starter Ideas

Looking for quick office snack swaps?

Here’s also 5 ideas for quick and healthy lunches.

What’s your Roman Empire, I mean, Gradual Improvement?

Making more homemade foods was my gradual improvement.

Maybe that resonates with you.


In which case, processed foods is definitely not the right gradual improvement effort right now!

Focus on what makes sense for you and tackle it a little at a time.

Do you like the idea of gradual improvement or are you an all-or-nothing type? What’s your favorite quick and healthy recipe? Any food swaps you’ve made recently? What other office snack alternatives do you like?

I’d love to hear from you!