This post is a review of Bright Lines Eating - a book and program by Susan Peirce Thompson. In case you do not wish to read any further, I'll save you some time. This program is, unfortunately, teaching people how to have an eating disorder while upholding and supporting fat phobia and weight stigma. Please avoid if you want to have a healthy relationship with food and your body.
In case you need more details, read on.
First of all, I like to keep an open mind. I read new books and listen to videos that might show me something I didn't know. Even if I suspect I might not agree with something, I like to check it out, give it the benefit of the doubt and see if there are any kernels of wisdom rather than throw the baby out with the bath water.
I recently came across a training that was all about Feminine Power and I was intrigued. From this source, I was introduced to a video series where Susan Peirce Thompson discusses her Bright Lines Eating program. The video series was about rebooting your relationship with food and getting "on track to a sustainable and healthy lifestyle that will improve your life in every way."
I knew from that description that I was stepping into a dieting mine field. How did I know? Anytime someone talks about being on or off track, or uses the words "healthy lifestyle" - you know you are heading into diet territory.
Still, I was curious to hear about this fabulous and sustainable way to lose weight and keep it off for years. I mean, there has never been such a thing before so what this amazing new idea? I watched the first video.
I so appreciate Susan's openness and honesty but this one 40 minute video described highly disordered eating and yet it's packaged with a bright and shiny bow and called a lifestyle and is being praised by thousands of people (according to the author).
I'm not here to tell you what to do - everyone gets to choose for themselves. But for those people who can't quite see how damaging this "lifestyle" is, I would like to interpret some of the behaviors for you.
To be totally clear, I have not read the book or listened to all 3 of the videos, this post comes from listening to one free video that was 40 minutes long in addition to knowing that the book tells you to stop eating sugar and flour.
The first damaging item in the video is the fact that the author refers to people getting to "right sized bodies". What exactly is that supposed to mean? Who voted on what is right? Who gets to decide? How enraging and insulting that someone should put forth that there even is such a thing. Every woman seeking to explore their "Feminine Power" should be appalled to even hear such a thing.
You will never find your Feminine Power while thinking that there is something wrong with your body.
All bodies are a gift. I promptly unsubscribed from all further emails about the Feminine Power training. If they can't see how upholding intentional weight loss and being thin at all costs is damaging to women - then I have no desire to learn anything further from them.
And yet sadly, so many women are not as appalled as I was when I heard this video. Because women everywhere, and especially those in larger bodies, have been conditioned to agree that there is such a thing as a right sized body and "right" sized is whatever size they are not and want to be. So rather than be insulted, people continue to participate in their own oppression.
The author goes on to claim to have found the secret to losing weight sustainably and says she has kept weight off for 15 years. However, the entire video talks about how the author created this Bright Line Eating Community in the last few years and then fell off the wagon so many times that she wondered if she should still lead the community. And her friend told her but "you know how to teach it even if you don't do it perfectly."
Really? So this "sustainable" new method of weight loss can't even be maintained by the person who "founded" it? And we are all supposed to plop our time, energy and money down to buy the book and the program and join the community?
The promotion of this woman's program gives one the impression that it's been smooth sailing for 15 years of weight loss maintenance when in reality it's been white knuckling and stressful. This is actually not surprising since I’m not sure I have ever heard of anyone whose maintained weight loss could be called “smooth sailing”.
Of course no one is perfect, we are not robots, but that is exactly why structured and restrictive eating off a plan is UNSUSTAINABLE.
Part of the program is even called "Rezoom" which stands for "Resume" where you fall off the wagon and have to recommit. By her own admission Susan had to "resume" so many times she lost count. She kept checklists at night tracking how good she was and had to start over from day one time and time again. This is what you call sustainable? In what universe?
Her program claims you can learn:
How to transition from the state of relapse into the state of resuming.
How to break free from the yo-yo dieting merry-go-round.
I'm sorry - but isn't relapse and resuming, and the gaining and losing that she did by her own admission, the definition of yo-yo dieting?
Now let's talk about the statistics she quotes. The video talks about the thousands of people who have watched Bright Line Eating videos and have purchased the book. All this proves is that the world is obsessed with weight loss and being thin, not that the method is effective.
The author also claims that her "method" has resulted in more weight loss for people than other methods. Yes - but what about that sustainability thing? Her book came out in 2017, her program and idea was developed in just before that. I'm sorry - but this is the honeymoon phase of any and all diets.
No one disputes that cutting out entire food groups and restricting your eating will result in weight loss. You don't need a PhD to know that. But then what? Her "method" is a diet where you restrict foods - and her "sustainability" method is to fall off the wagon and gain weight and get back on the wagon and lose it again. Resume remember?
So after you finish tracking the thousands of people who bought your book, I'd like to see statistics regarding the number of people who lost weight and kept it off for a year, 2 years, 3 years etc up to 5 years and who did so WITHOUT exhibiting the following characteristics:
In general, behaviors and attitudes that indicate that weight loss, dieting, and control of food are becoming primary concerns
Preoccupation with weight, food, calories, carbohydrates, fat grams, and dieting
Refusal to eat certain foods, progressing to restrictions against whole categories of food (e.g., no carbohydrates, etc.)
Appears uncomfortable eating around others
Food rituals (e.g. eats only a particular food or food group [e.g. condiments], excessive chewing, doesn’t allow foods to touch)
Skipping meals or taking small portions of food at regular meals
Any new practices with food or fad diets, including cutting out entire food groups (no sugar, no carbs, no dairy, vegetarianism/veganism)
Withdrawal from usual friends and activities
Extreme concern with body size and shape
Frequent checking in the mirror for perceived flaws in appearance
Extreme mood swings
Because, according to the National Eating Disorder Association, these are the characteristics of someone with an eating disorder.
Oh yeah, right, your program hasn't been around long enough to have that data. And from what I can tell - your program hits about every bullet in the eating disorder description. So how are we calling this a success at this point? And how is it even ok to promote this model of eating?
It's not even successfully sustainable for the person who developed it and has been doing it the longest.
Speaking of success - let's define that. The program is supposed to help you be happy, thin and free. How is restricting yourself and maintaining structure and tracking foods daily and abstinence from fun and delicious foods called freedom? How are you calling the suffering that was admitted to in the video - happy?
The author talks about how miserable she has been while "failing" over and over again while trying to stay on her own program. She also says - if people invite you out for wings and beer, you should go! Just don't eat anything.
So yeah - you may be thin, but you definitely aren't going to be free and happy.
Due to weight stigma, quality of life can suffer and so it's understandable that people are driven to try and lose weight. People often would if they could - it's not their fault that they have been conditioned to want this and it's nothing to be ashamed of.
However, this video is full of suffering barely disguised as progress and success. This information is bound to make anyone struggling with body issues feel worse.
This video and program upholds weight stigma and decreases quality of life. It's a lose-lose.
Please avoid this program and warn others to avoid it as well and please reach out for help if you have fallen prey to this program and it has damaged your relationship with food and body. There are many qualified coaches, therapists and dietitians out there who have seen this before and know how to help.
And if you were able to see through this bullshit but don't know what alternative there is to dieting, let me know and send me an email. There is a way to live free and happy that doesn't include disordered eating and I'm happy to point you in that direction.