Real Food Freedom is NOT Bright Line Eating

glass ball with upside down view of landscape

Just getting started? Be sure to check out my post on Bright Line Eating Reviews.

When I started Bright Line Eating back in August 2017, I wanted what the tagline promised – “Happy, Thin, and Free” (http://brightlineeating.com).  I worked the program and got to my goal weight in January 2018.  For two months, I maintained my weight. If anything, I was continuing to slowly lose more weight!  Unfortunately, even after my weight-loss success, freedom was eluding me.  It was time for me to figure out why!

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Food’s Purpose

The purpose of food, and eating generally, is NOT simply to ensure I maintain my weight.

Culture

Food has a cultural significance.  It connects people. It in a key element in holidays and celebrations.  To follow the bright lines well, I had to bring my own food to pot lucks or not attend.  I had to ask family members to tweak recipes passed down for generations to cut out a tablespoon of flour.  I had to say no to sweet treats because I was certainly going to “lose it” over even just a bite of something sweet.  All these things and more were NOT a recipe for freedom to me.  They were isolating. They were a burden. They were unrealistic for any extended period of time.

Fuel

Food fuels my body and its needs are constantly changing. The BLE plan outlines the exact food groups and the exact amounts that a person should eat.  The plan doesn’t change except in extreme cases such training for a marathon or multi-hour physical adventures.  The idea is that your body’s needs will average out on a day to day basis.  If you eat according to your body’s average needs, you’ll be full some days and hungry on others, but you will maintain your weight.  I am absolutely not willing to make my food decisions just so that I can maintain my weight!  That is not freedom!

Members in one of the BLE Maintenance Facebook Support Groups were talking about how they eat all of their food in a meal even if they feel full before they are finished.  Similarly, if a meal leaves them wanting more, as in they are still hungry, they deny that need and wait until the next designated meal time.

Our bodies are amazing!  We are born with an innate ability to meet our nutritional needs.  Think of a baby crying. She knows she’s hungry! It is our culture and our life experiences that take us so far away from our intuitive sense that we stop trusting our bodies.  Instead, we jump from diet to diet seeking the answers and the plan the will finally “work”.  Every attempt at this, every restriction and rule we follow, is only making adding to the mistrust.

My path to food freedom requires that I befriend my body.  I need to look inward for the answers.  They may be buried under years of garbage but the answers are there.



Walking Away From Bright Line Eating

When I walked away from BLE in March 2018, I simultaneously embraced intuitive eating and intermittent fasting.

I stopped weighing my food portions.  I stopped planning my food intake around meeting certain food group requirements in a given day.  I added back sweeteners and flour.  I started making decisions based upon listening to my body.  Is she hungry? What is she hungry for?  How much food does she need right now?

In many ways, this journey is more challenging than ANY diet I’ve ever been on. Unlike any diet though, this journey is deeply rewarding.

When There Are No Rules

When I abandoned the rules, I was afraid of what would happen.  Would I gain weight? Would my eating get “out of control”?  It was a fear of the unknown that made it scary to walk away from BLE.

My Weight

For about 2 weeks after I abandoned the bright lines, I continued to weigh myself.  Something VERY unexpected happened.  My weight flattened out! Check out this screen shot of my weight tracking app.  I stopped following the rules of BLE on 3/19.  When I started trying to eat according to what my body was telling me it needed, my weight stabilized.  Cue your favorite <Mind Blown> here.

I stopped weighing myself at that point because my relationship with the scale and the number was unhealthy.  I do ask my wife to record the number somewhere every few weeks but l don’t actually know what it is or where she records it.  What I DO know is that I’ve been doing my own non-diet thing for 3 months now.  I know that my weight is about half-way between 160-165.  (I needed this rough number for a medical procedure.)  I know that the new clothes I bought in March are still fitting me comfortably.  I know that I feel good and am enjoying physical activity for pleasure rather than weight management.  Basically, I know that I am maintaining a weight and I’m doing it without stress and worry!

My “Sugar Addiction”

Bright Line Eating (http://www.brightlineeating.com) is based on the model of food/sugar addiction.  I totally believed in it! It resonated with me and really described my relationship with food.

I don’t believe in it anymore.  Before BLE, I definitely had a disordered relationship with food.  I definitely used food to cope with my emotions.  I definitely over indulged on foods that BLE told me I needed to cut out completely.  These things were true for me.

Here’s the key – having a disordered relationship with food is NOT the same as being addicted.  I felt like I was addicted to food but in reality, I was addicted to using food in ways that food doesn’t need to be used!  I had bought into hears of diet messages.  I had come to believe that I couldn’t be trusted around food.

Challenging My Sugar Addiction

Here’s an example from Easter 2018.  We had a bag of chocolate Easter candy left over.  After not having any candy like that since August 2017, I decided I was ready to try it again.  I took 3 small candies and put the bag away.  They were tasty.  I finished the three candies.

Immediately after they were gone, I found myself thinking that I needed to have more.  My reasoning for this was so that I could get them out of the house more quickly to avoid being tempted later.   It wasn’t actually an addicted response to the chocolate but rather to the idea that I was doing something bad!  The only way to prevent this bad behavior was to finish them off.  I heard that tape playing in my head and fought it.  I didn’t give in. Those candies lasted for another week or so even though they were always available to me.  The problem wasn’t the food itself.  The problem was how I was thinking about the food.



What’s Next

I have never felt as much peace with my body and around food as I do now.  If you are reading this and contemplating starting Bright Line Eating, I would encourage you NOT to.  You may feel like you’ve tried every diet out there. Maybe you have!  Consider the possibility that you can learn to NOT be on a diet. Consider that you can learn to trust yourself again.

I have chosen to combine intuitive eating (IE) with the practice of intermittent fasting (IF) and there is a growing community of folks that are joining me.   A lot of folks consider IF to be just another fad diet and there are certainly people who  use it for that purpose.

Although a side effect of IF can be weight loss, there are many other potential benefits.  In my case, I do it to reduce my seasonal allergies and get my hunger/fullness hormones working like they are intended to.   When I’m eating according to my body’s needs, I trust that my weight will settle where it needs to.

There isn’t a lot of support out there for folks who want to combine these two, seemingly misaligned, concepts.  I’m quickly learning though that there are a lot of people out there who are giving it a shot!

Do you want to learn more or perhaps join with me on this journey? Post your questions in the comments and figure out how you want to stay in contact by clicking here.

14 Replies to “Real Food Freedom is NOT Bright Line Eating”

  1. Brightline eating is amazing it’s the only plan that works for me and I’ve been a compulsive eater my whole life is truly remarkable

    1. Thanks for the comment Susan! It worked for me too as far as losing weight was concerned. I really thought it was my plan for life. When I got to my goal weight and didn’t have peace, I had to take a look at the reasons why. I was afraid of what would happen if I broke the bright lines. My social life was being negatively impacted by the rigidity of the plan. I really thought I was addicted and would never be able to find moderation.
      And now, I’m learning so much about how the diet culture all around us was contributing and even causing my compulsive eating and my yo-yo dieting. Fighting back against those thoughts has been harder than any diet I’ve ever followed but that is where I believe the real peace is found.

      If you have peace with BLE and it doesn’t feel restrictive to you, I’m truly happy for you. If you ever get to a place where BLE doesn’t feel aligned with your needs and values and you want to talk about how I transitioned away from BLE, I’d love to discuss it further. If weight loss is a goal for you, I found transitioning from BLE to intermittent fasting (IF) to be really easy and could talk you through what that would look like. For the first time as an adult, I can truly tune in to my hunger and fullness, not avoid any foods or food groups, and not weigh my food or my body. This is something that I can live with.
      In gratitude, Andrea

  2. Thanks for sharing Andrea,
    I hadn’t really heard of Intuitive Eating until you shared your FB group (thank you). I really like IF and feel like it’s absolutely what works for me. However, there are still a lot of mind games and internal things to work out with food for it to work for me, so I’m really excited you’re doing this & sharing it all.
    🙂
    Thank you!
    Kim

    1. Thanks Kim! The “mind games and the internal things” are how we’ll go from diet mode to building lives that work for us! Happy to share my journey with you and look forward to your insights too!

  3. The addiction model works really well for many people. Anyone who tries BLE, and finds that it doesn’t work, can learn from your (and others’) experiences about what might work for them instead.

    Why on earth do you feel it is appropriate to directly discourage anyone from trying?

    1. Thank you for your comments!

      If even one person reads this post and reconsiders their participation in Bright Line Eating or questions the BLE rhetoric, I will consider this post successful.

      I, and many others, have sought out diet after diet for the answer to our struggles. SPT’s message is quite compelling. She is a person that we can look to, and pay quite well, to tell us the solution.

      After Bootcamp, I felt like signing up for Lifer’s was a must in order to maintain my success. She’s a very persuasive sales person. I was ready to tell the world how great her program is and offer friends a discount to participate. In order to do that, I have to pay BLE a bunch of money (as a Lifer) or have an email list of at least 1000 people.

      In the non-paid FB maintenance support groups, people are acknowledging that they eat their set amount of food regardless of hunger level day in and day out without fail. According to the BLE model, the answer to permanent weight loss is to completely ignore the fact that our body’s needs change on a daily basis.

      Getting to a goal weight is hard. Maintaining it is even harder. There are resources for folks who feel like they are addicted that don’t need to involve BLE or lifelong deprivation. People have the means to find their own truth. They don’t need to buy into SPT’s program to find peace. And if they think that they do but are skeptical, I will share my experience. Hopefully, I can provide the hope of an alternate solution and save them a bunch of time and a LOT of money.

  4. I do appreciate hearing about your path to intuitive eating. I hope to eventually end up there at some point. However, I think BLE is as fine a plan as any to take off excess weight, and a great plan for people who find it hard to intuitively eat when it comes to sugar and flour. I imagine it would have been tough for you to go right to intuitive eating before you got to a healthy weight and learned how to have minimal processed food in your diet. I think BLE is a great stepping stone for some and a great end game for others; I don’t agree with you discouraging people to try it.

    1. Hi Betsy, Any plan that you are following primarily for the purpose of weight loss is taking you further and further away from the goal of intuitive eating. Your body can’t settle in and find a weight that it can comfortably maintain until you stop trying to force it to lose weight. And every diet you try is only going to push that set point weight higher and higher. You suggested in your reply that I got to a healthy weight on BLE. On the contrary, I pushed my body to a very unheaalthy weight and was truly miserable. Stopping BLE and pursuing intuitive eatting led me to gain back neearly all of the weight I lost on BLE. For the first time in my weight seems to be stable and I feel true peace. If you ever want to explore what a life without a rigid food plan looks like, let me know. I hope you find the peace that you are looking for. In service, Andrea
      Check out my new BLE review post if you have a moment. It does a better job at explaining why I have a problem with BLE. http://thiswellseasonedlife.com/bright-line-eating-reviews

  5. Also, I haven’t spent any money on BLE – people don’t have to. You can borrow the book from the library and join the free FB groups. There is no need for people to sign up for the challenges and boot camps.

    1. I’m glad to hear that you aren’t financially impacted by BLE. If you ever decide to walk away from BLE and want to talk strategy, let me know. I did it. I have a stable weight and more peace than I could possibly have imagined which is what I wanted all along. I just needed BLE to show me that there is a different and healthier way to get there.

  6. You’re encouraging people not to try BLE but I wonder how your time adhering to BLE informed the next chapter of your food journey.

    Also the rule of thumb is that flour can’t be listed in the top 4 ingredients, so I’m wondering whether you could write off that tablespoon of flour in a family recipe.

    1. Hi Amanda,
      You are most welcome. Was there something in particular you found to be helpful in shifting how you think about Bright Line Eating or was it helpful for a different reason? I’d love to hear more about your journey. Andrea

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