Is Bright Line Eating the holy grail of weight loss?
Those that struggle with insatiable hunger and cravings might say it is after they hear the incredible success stories of 1000s of Bright Liners.
Check out this video of Bright Line Eating Success Stories filled with before and after pictures:
Bright Line Eating Success
In its first two years of its existence, the Bright Line Eating community collectively lost 133,000 pounds with the average person losing 17 pounds during the typical 8-week long Bright Line Eating Boot Camp.
As impressive, 90% of the boot campers reported that eating has become easier and they no longer feel the strong pull of cravings.
These success stories are not the “easy cases.”
They are the 57-year-old woman (post-menopausal) who had tried every diet before finally losing all of her excess weight (68 pounds) in just six months. She is now living happy, thin, and free.
They are the men and women who are near goal weight and knowledgeable about food that succumb to binge eating making it impossible to lose the last ten pounds.
(Do you want to know what others are saying about the BLE boot camps? Bright Line Eating Reviews)
The Core Concepts of Bright Line Eating
1. Ranking yourself on the Susceptibility Scale that shows how strongly you are affected by refined food
2. Understanding how your brain is blocking weight loss by falsely triggering hunger and cravings
3. Using “Bright Lines” to finally get Happy, Thin, and Free
I will cover all of these core concepts in this post.
Bright Line Eating Food Plan
Do you want to get an idea of what eating the Bright Line Eating way looks like?
The only way to get the Bright Line Eating Food Plan is to join a Boot Camp, so this meal plan is not an official plan from the organization. Instead, it’s a guide based on research into Food Addicts Anonymous, Dr. Gottfried’s food plan, and Susan Peirce Thompson’s videos. You can learn more in my Bright Line Eating Meal Plan post.
Who’s behind Bright Line Eating?
The leader of this huge movement is the warm and relatable Dr. Susan Peirce Thompson. Susan is a professor of The Psychology of Eating and a former food addict.
Her knack for blending her personal experiences of being out of control around food with her education into how the brain works have led to her massive following.
In her 20s, Susan was a driven student working toward her Ph.D. in Brain and Cognitive Sciences By all outward measures she was highly successful, gaining a 4.0 in her classes and having the support of a loving family.
Yet, inside Susan led a much different life; one that was controlled by binging and constant thoughts of food.
In her videos, she describes the control refined foods had over her life and happiness. She also describes the turning point that finally brought an end to her many failed attempts to lose weight despite meticulous planning and enthusiasm.
The turning point came when she ran into an old friend. A friend that, like her, had struggled with food but was now free. This friend directed Susan to a 12-step program for food addiction, and Bright Line Eating was born.
The Susceptibility Scale
“We are not all the same when it comes to food.” – Susan Peirce Thompson
What Susan discovered from her journey from food addict to freedom was that refined foods (i.e. sugar and flour) have addictive qualities, but not everyone is affected by refined foods the same way.
This realization led to the creation of the Bright Line Eating Susceptibility Scale, which is a 5-point questionnaire that reveals how strongly you are pulled in by refined foods.
The quiz calculates your ability to control how much you eat, the strength of your cravings, and your overeating or binge history, and then shows you where you fall on the Susceptibility Scale.
The Susceptibility Scale ranges from 0 to 10 with 0 being low and 10 being high.
- If your score is on the lower end (0 to 3) of the scale, you may feel light cravings, but these desires are easily controlled.
- If your score is in the mid-range (4 to 6), you occasionally feel pulled by cravings.
- If your score is on the higher end (7 to 10), you struggle with your food and may also struggle with weight. You’re plagued by food cravings and overly focused on food and weight concerns.
For those high on the susceptibility scale, the brain handles hunger and cravings differently.
The Science of Hunger and Cravings
Much of the research behind Bright Line Eating is focused on how the brain blocks weight loss by falsely triggering hunger and cravings. This brain block has to do with hunger hormones and the addictive centers of the brain.
Hunger – It’s a Hormonal Thing
According to Bright Line Eating, there are different types of hunger.
- Physical Hunger is the normal hunger we all feel when we haven’t eaten for a while; it’s that grumble in the stomach type of feel. While this can get annoying, it’s tolerable.
- The other form of hunger is more of a Debilitating Hunger. It’s the type of hunger that keeps you glued to the couch with a bag of chips or a bowl of ice cream despite the fact that your belly is full.
The difference between the two has to do with a hormone called leptin. Leptin is the hunger hormone you like to have in your body because it turns off hunger. Think Leptin = Like.
Leptin, which was not discovered until 1994, is made by your fat cells.
When your body has enough fat, leptin is released and travels to your brain to switch off hunger.
At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work.
By that logic, the fatter you are, the more leptin you should have, and therefore, your hunger switch should always be in the off position.
However, people susceptible to cravings have a problem with leptin.
In 2004, scientists discovered that leptin is blocked by high insulin levels, which is a condition known as leptin resistance.
If you’re leptin resistant, your brain never receives leptin’s message, so your hunger never stops, regardless of your weight or how much you eat.
The only way to break leptin resistance is to keep your insulin low, and this is only possible through better food choices.
In Bright Line Eating, you avoid the foods that keep insulin high, namely sugar and flour.
What about cravings?
Cravings are a different animal than hunger, and if you’ve struggled with weight loss, you very well might be getting the one-two punch from both hunger and cravings.
Cravings are the mind-kidnapping urges that make you head to the grocery store at 2 AM on a cold night because you need chocolate.
Unlike hunger, cravings involve the addictive pathways of the brain; the same pathways that keep heroin and cocaine addicts hooked.
Refined foods trigger these addictive pathways causing your brain to release a chemical called dopamine, which makes you feel wonderfully good.
The feeling is so good, in fact, that you instantly crave more of the trigger food.
However, as you continue to indulge, the dopamine receptors downregulate meaning they thin out. When this happens, it takes more of the trigger food to make you feel “normal.” This is the root of food addiction.
When you follow the Bright Lines, you avoid the refined “trigger” foods that cause insatiable hunger and unstoppable cravings, yet, according to Susan Peirce Thompson, your road to food freedom is in jeopardy if you fall into the common trap of willpower.
The Willpower Gap
You’ve reached that point.
You need to lose weight, and you need the pounds off now!
You create a plan:
You decide what you’ll eat and how you’ll exercise, and you’ve told yourself that this time you’re going to stick with your plan no matter what.
Then there’s a problem.
Road construction leaves you stuck in traffic, and you’re late for work (stress).
At noon, your coworkers decide to take a spontaneous lunch break to the new pizza shop down the street, you really want to join them, but stay at your desk with your bagged lunch (disappointment).
The day drags until it’s finally time to leave work (exhaustion), and now you have to decide what to eat for dinner.
Research shows that anything that taps into our self-control (i.e., stress, disappointment, fatigue. etc.) drains our willpower, and when willpower is drained, your good intentions and desire to stick with your healthy eating plan fly out the window.
In Bright Line Eating, Susan Peirce Thompson calls a reliance on willpower the biggest mistake made by dieters, and it will easily drop you into what she refers to as the Willpower Gap.
The Willpower Gap is what you’re going through when you find yourself rationalizing an exception to your plan. It sounds like this:
“I exercised, so maybe a donut wouldn’t be too bad.”
“I guess one piece of pizza won’t do any harm”
“It’s a birthday celebration, so it’s okay to have a small piece of cake.”
While someone low on the Susceptibility Scale might be able to handle these gaps in their plan, for others, these seemingly small deviations put them in a downward spiral and uncontrollable binge.
Bright Line Eating combats the Willpower Gap by systematizing and automating eating with Bright Lines.
A Bright Line is a clear boundary that you do not cross.
For a former smoker, a Bright Line would exist between them and their next cigarette. By never crossing that Bright Line, the reformed smoker will never again become a smoker.
Bright Lines are clear in some addictions, like smoking or illegal drug use, but how can they work for eating? After all, we need food to live; we don’t need cigarettes.
One of the strengths of Bright Line Eating is that it creates Bright Lines that limit food choices to foods your body actually needs to survive. Yes, you need food to live, but you don’t need cookies and candy.
According to Susan Peirce Thompson, the Bright Line Eating strategy is…
“A system to never have to rely on willpower to make food choices.”
The Three Aspects of the Bright Line Eating Strategy
- The 4 Bright Lines. At the heart of the strategy are the four Bright Lines that you never cross.
- Planning and Preparation reduce the food choices you have to make at the moment. After dinner, you plan what you’ll eat the next day and write your food choices in a notebook. The next morning, you prepare those foods for the day.
- Habits and Rituals develop as you practice following the Bright Lines making the strategy as automatic as brushing your teeth.
Despite the power of this strategy, Dr. Thompson acknowledges that the world we live in offers many temptations. For these moments, she offers an Emergency Action Plan.
Bright Line Eating Emergency Action Plan
Susan shares that willpower can be replenished quickly by taking the following actions:
- Human connection – text or call a friend and share your struggle
- Quick Meditation or Prayer – Just three minutes of deep breathing and mindful focus can restore willpower reserves.
- Gratitude – Even if you’re in the moment of temptation, taking a step back to think about what you’re grateful for can elevate you above the need to eat. As Susan states, “Grateful hearts don’t eat.”
- Get into service – If you’re struggling with temptation at a party, look for ways to help by serving drinks, cleaning up, or befriending someone in need.
By doing one of these activities when you feel tempted, you regain control and don’t slide back into your old habits.
The Four Bright Lines
Drawing Bright Lines around sugar and flour (meaning you omit these foods from your diet) brings the levels of leptin (the hunger hormone) and dopamine (the addictive pleasure chemical) into balance, which puts you in control of hunger and cravings.
The Bright Line for meals is to limit eating to three meals a day with no snacks in between. This Bright Line removes the Willpower Gap. Grazing all day requires a lot of willpower, leaving you susceptible to making food choices under stressful situations.
The Bright Line for quantities allows you to automatically NOT overeat. Eating is controlled with a food scale or plate.
By weighing your food portions on a food scale, you have no questions about whether or not you’re controlling weight. Measuring prevents you from eating too much but also ensures that you’re eating enough nutrients, like vegetables.
An alternative for meeting the Quantity Bright Line is the one-plate rule, where you fill and eat only one plate, then stop.
Want a meal plan that introduces you to Bright Line Eating for free? Enter your name and email in the box below for instant access:
Bright Line Eating Questions
Susan Peirce Thompson has been refining the Bright Line Eating system since 2003 and has guided thousands of people to weight loss success.
With this long track record, she has also learned how to handle common concerns that come up, like a lack of time, the cost of healthy food, and the fear of trying yet another diet.
She covers all of these concerns in her free video series that is periodically offered throughout the year. If you would like to receive a notification the next time the videos are released, enter your name and email in the form at the bottom of this post. By doing so, you will also gain access to the sample BLE meal plan.
Bright Line Eating Conclusion:
Bright Line Eating has worked for thousands of people. It has worked for the hard cases, including those that had given up on ever losing weight because the pull of food was too strong.
As you follow the Bright Lines, it has been proven to provide long-term weight loss because your brain changes in the following ways:
- Leptin resistance goes away, so hunger becomes a normal experience for you again.
- Dopamine receptors normalize, so you lose the pull of cravings.
- Urges stop because your brain no longer focuses on food, freeing your thoughts.
- Willpower is less susceptible to depletion because your constant struggle with food is gone.
If you’ve struggled with your weight, and you’ve not been able to find the path to freedom, take BLE for a test run by downloading the BLE Meal Plan.
Add your name and email to the box below and I will send you the free meal plan.
About the Author
Dr. Becky Gillaspy, DC graduated Summa Cum Laude with research honors from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1991.