Stage 3: plan for success

I’d love to tell you the story of spending time with my mom and grandma in the kitchen, standing on a stepstool, elbow to elbow with them, learning a love of cooking early on.

Except it wouldn’t be true.

My grandmas both had many great qualities, but having children underfoot in the kitchen was not their thing. My mom taught me how to follow a recipe, and I picked up a love of baking sweets from her, but she took no pleasure from making day-to-day meals. And for the longest time, neither did I.

When I was learning to eliminate processed food from my diet, I was at the same time learning a whole new way of cooking. Ugh! Yet another learning curve!

I remember feeling like an actual light bulb was coming on in my brain when I first read about ingredient prep. This post by Mel Joulwan was my first exposure to this idea, and it made getting dinner on the table so. much. easier.

I started to actually enjoy cooking meals. (What? Who am I?!) It became about creativity and providing the gift of good food to myself and my husband.

I talk about ingredient prep elsewhere, but this change represents much of what happens in Stage 3. This stage is about getting your ducks in a row so you have less work and less thinking to do once you roll out your full eating changes.

There are a constellation of stumbling blocks that can trip us up as we’re doing the hard work of changing habits: learning a new way to shop, prep, and cook; not being clear on our boundaries, or when and how to relax them; what to do in social situations, and more.

In her book about making and breaking habits, Gretchen Rubin says:

The amount of effort, time, or decision making required by an action has a huge influence on habit formation. To a truly remarkable extent, we’re more likely to do something if it’s convenient, and less likely if it’s not.

– Gretchen Rubin, Better Than Before

Stage 3 is all about reducing the amount of effort, time, and decision making required for Stage 4.

Psychologists call this stage preparation, which is a good description, but I call it plan for success.


About this stage

What happens in this stage: You put things in place to make the next stage easier and more assured of success. For example, thoughtfully choosing food boundaries that will work for you forever. You might develop a meal plan, and some kitchen and restaurant strategies. You can also map out some plans for dealing with the social and emotional situations that tend to trip you up.

The tools:

  • Identifying which foods are most problematic for you, both craving and health wise.
  • Decide on what your everyday boundaries will be, and what your holiday or special event boundaries will be.
  • Think about and plan for how your meal planning and prep might need to change.
  • Come up with some strategies for social situations that might make you vulnerable to decisions you’ll regret.
  • Find one or more mottos to inspire you and keep you on track.


Here are a few resources on this site to get you started:

Cookbook: Well Fed Weeknights

Book: The Real Food Grocery Store Guide

Book: The Sugar Addict’s Total Recovery Program

Articles related to Stage 3


Want more personal help?

Find out about my Stage 3 classes and support sessions.