This Brightline Eating review is an opinion piece.
I’ve gotten so many requests for a Brightline Eating review, so here we go!
What is Brightline Eating?
Brightline claims that it helps people live ‘happy, thin, and free’.
The diet is based off of the premise that just like smokers who can’t have one cigarette every once in a while, people who are ‘addicted’ to sugar and flour can’t eat those foods.
Ever. Again. Not honey, maple syrup, or sweetener. Not almond flour, oat flour, or white flour. Nothing.
Just to get this out of the way, there’s no compelling research that food is addictive. The studies on sugar addiction – are mostly done on rodents and their methodology is faulty.
One of the more popular sugar addiction studies was done on rats whose access to sugar was restricted, then allowed – resulting in the rats binging on pure sugar.
But humans generally don’t eat pure sugar, and we don’t live in a restrictive environment. Well, unless you’re on a diet like Brightline, but I digress.
Despite the research that shows that food vs drug addiction aren’t the same things, I understand that some people do truly believe and feel that they are addicted to things like sugar and white flour. Although that’s anecdotal evidence, we can’t ignore it.
I can’t exactly tell a person that what they’re feeling isn’t true, but I can very well tell them what I think of the diet they’re following.
How Does Bright Line Eating Work?
The Bright Lines are like lines in the sand you should never cross. They are:
Sugar: Eliminate from your diet completely
Flour: Eliminate from your diet completely. Not just white flour, either: all flour, even if it’s rice or almond or whatever.
Portions: Everything you eat must be weighed, measured, and logged
Meals: No snacking between meals
Every morsel of food must be weighed and measured. Mixed dishes like casseroles aren’t recommended, because it’s tough to determine how each ingredient fits into your daily allowances.
Even in restaurants, you must get out your trusty scale and weigh out your food. That sounds really fucking embarrassing and dysfunctional, to be honest.
Brightline does offer the ‘one plate rule’ as well, which means that instead of weighing your lunch in a restaurant, you are allowed just one plate.
It’s almost as if this diet trades one ‘addiction’ for another: eating versus obsessive weighing and measuring.
Just as an aside, as the mother of two pre-teens, I’d be extremely worried about the type of food relationship I would be modelling with Brightline. It’s one thing to be mindful about what you eat, and another to be obsessive about it.
The Bright Line Eating Plan
Brightline doesn’t give specific food plans; instead, you get the skeleton of what you’re assigned for a day. For example, a woman will get the following:
Breakfast: 1 fruit, 1 breakfast grain, 1 protein
Lunch: 1 fruit, 1 fat, 1 protein, 6oz vegetables
Dinner: 1 protein, 1 fat, 6oz vegetables, 8oz salad (there’s a difference?)
No matter who you are, you get the same plan. It’s one-size-fits-all, 1200 calorie diet.
Although some Brightline followers say they adjust their eating according to their size and hunger, it appears as though this is not recommended. If you do make adjustments, you need to do it consistently, meaning every day – not just adding a snack when you like or a larger meal because it’s your birthday.
Trusting your body isn’t a thing with this diet; essentially Brightline tells you that your body isn’t to be trusted, ever.
Does that sound healthy to you?
If you value weight loss over emotional health, you might need to re-examine your priorities. These two things do NOT have to be mutually exclusive.
It’s possible to achieve a healthy weight and not sacrifice emotional, physical, or financial health. You might need to first find your ‘why’, which brings me to my next point:
For all of the psychology experience that Susan Peirce Thompson says she has, she spends a lot of time telling people how to eat and not a lot of time asking people to figure out their ‘why’.
The ‘why’ is the single most important part of any eating plan. The ‘why’ is what you ask yourself when you go on diet after diet, or you binge eat, or you believe you’re ‘addicted’ to sugar. WHY. Why am I eating this way?
Although Brightline likes to diagnose people with ‘food addiction’, is the way you’re eating because you’re truly addicted to food or, is it because of some underlying emotional issue?
Food is all too often a symptom, not a cause. Please remember that. So going on diet after diet, even punitive, ultra-structured diets like this one, will never help you achieve meaningful change if you don’t first resolve what’s making you overeat in the first place. Period.
There’s a lot of ‘tough love’ and hyperbole in this diet.
Followers avoid the ‘NMF’s, meaning, ‘Not My Food’. Any food that’s off limits is ‘NMF’. As a dietitian, going onto forums and comment sections and seeing what people are writing is disturbing.
There’s a ton of ‘toxic NMF’ and ‘my husband eats S + F (sugar and flour) and it’s so bad for him blah blah blah’…as if everyone is killing themselves with normal foods but the Brightline people have the secret to health and wellness.
These people may have lost a substantial amount of weight, but they don’t seem to be emotionally healthy in terms of their relationships with food. You shouldn’t feel like you can’t eat your own wedding cake, but this was one Brightline follower’s dilemma.
If you go off plan, you’re immediately considered an ‘addict’, which is, well, disturbing. Talk about shaming, wow.
One reviewer stated, “The Facebook page scared me, people upset with missing their one fruit, contacting Susan for special permission to add an extra carb because they are hungry all the time, worrying that they can not eat a slice of wedding cake at their own wedding because it is “not their food”.”
Thompson recommends putting tape over your mouth while cooking so you don’t take any BLTs, or ‘Bites, Licks, and Tastes’. I’ve never heard of anything more shaming and degrading in a diet than suggesting a person put tape on their mouth to stop them from eating.
Do you seriously want to take advice from a person who tells you to do this?
She tells followers that hunger is a feeling that we just need to learn to live with.
She’s wrong. Physical hunger is your body telling you that it needs something. Why is that a bad and shameful thing? This diet completely rejects your body’s internal cues and replaces them entirely with external rules. Sure, people say it eliminates the ‘guesswork’ of dieting, but that’s a heck of a tradeoff.
The motto of ‘Happy, Thin, and Free’ insinuates that being happy hinges on thinness, which is completely messed up.
Thompson pushes the concept of a ‘right sized body’. I understand the meaning of this, but telling people that they have to find their ‘right size’ is offensive and incorrect.
We all exist within a range, and to call it ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ isn’t acceptable. If I gain 10 pounds, am I now ‘wrong’? Gross.
Thompson tells followers that they need to achieve ‘food neutrality’, meaning neutral feelings about food. As in, no more being excited about eating. If you’re excited about eating, you must be an addict, according to Brightline.
Thompson says that people who do not exercise actually lose more weight and keep it off.
Not only does she claim that compensatory behavior – like overeating to make up for calories burned, and permissiveness because you’ve worked out – ruins your diet, but she also makes the incredibly offside assertion that exercise ‘drains your willpower’ and therefore you’ll have less of it for your diet.
‘Exercise helps you stay heavy’. Uh, no. It doesn’t.
While exercise alone isn’t great for weight loss – I always say weight is lost in the kitchen – scaring people away from something that has great value for physical and emotional health is really reckless. If your diet is that strict and that low in calories that it doesn’t leave room for exercise, that’s a RED FLAG X 10000.
She goes on to say that after several months of being on the diet, you can incorporate exercise. Talk about mixed signals. Tell people that exercise keeps you fat, but then give them permission to do it. What?
Thompson also makes some interesting claims.
She says that before going on her diet, she went from a size 4 to a size 24 in 3 months, which is physically impossible.
She claims that Brightline is ‘the most effective diet in the world’, but there is zero evidence of this. She does ‘research’ on her own clients, and for all of her boasting she also has never published a peer-reviewed paper.
She claims that a Brightline follower with type 1 diabetes was able to come off insulin. This claim is not only impossible, it’s also irresponsible and dangerous.
Brightline Eating is a marketing machine. All the online blog reviews of it contain multiple affiliate links, are obviously biased, and perhaps sponsored. The Amazon reviews of the book are overwhelmingly positive but when you look closely, many of them were written on the same exact date. HM.
The Brightline website is like one huge sales pitch. And, although there are free videos of Thompson speaking her truths, you then need to pay to have access to everything else. The bootcamps, Brightlifers, Rezoom for when you fall off the wagon, and even a Facebook support group. It’s a total bait and switch.
This diet is endorsed by charlatans like Mark Hyman and Gary Taubes. Enough said.
Brightline is very similar to Food Addicts Anonymous, which is free, versus around $500 for Brightline. Image that.
My Bright Line Eating Review
Don’t follow the advice of someone who tells you to put tape over your mouth to prevent you from eating.
Brightline is low calorie and appears to be low carb. It contains a ton of vegetables, but that’s not necessarily going to satisfy you if you’re not eating a reasonable portion of other foods with them.
Brightline rejects all your internal cues. These exist for a reason, and you should never be shamed for your hunger or for wanting to eat cake at your wedding.
This diet convinces people that they’re addicts who can’t trust or control their bodies. That’s insane. It also saps all the enjoyment from eating and amps up anxiety around food.
A diet that tells you not to exercise is either not based in science or, is depriving you of adequate calories or, is depriving you of an outlet for your stress. Probably all of these, actually.
You’ll have to pack your own food for parties and potlucks and whatever else, and in restaurants, you’ll have to haul out a scale and weigh your food.
I caution everyone not to exchange one obsession with another, and never weigh food or blatantly diet in front of kids.
People at risk for disordered eating (and probably those who don’t know if they are) should not follow this diet. It’s like one huge trigger.
Eating the Brightline way won’t necessarily cure you of your ‘food addiction’, because if you have those, you many have underlying issues that need taking care of. Food is often just a symptom of something larger.
This diet is a punishing, shaming marketing monster, and although it may work for some people, time will tell if it’s sustainable. I definitely DO NOT recommend it.
My gosh. This sounds like disordered eating and thinking and toxic and EVERYTHING I DO NOT WANT IN MY LIFE. Makes me sad that people buy into it. Thanks for sharing such good info!
What the what?? I’ve never heard of this diet and THANK GOD BECAUSE WHAT?!?!?! The tape over the mouth and the scale at restaurants. Just no. Hard pass!
I am not sure if food is addictive or not but I do believe that people use food to replace other addictions and psychological issues. I have not heard of this one either but it sounds a little too good to be true
BLE is about bounded quantities and rules (boundaries). It’s very much about creating a support system.
I’ve never put tape over my mouth and I don’t weight my food at restaurants. I’ve experienced a lot of success with this program. Down more than 70 lbs in 10 months. I’m now at a normal BMI. I’ve learned so much from SPT and BLE. SPT eats every healthy. We have so many plant based people as well. It’s a great community of people.
If her book really says a Type 1 diabetic is off medicine, that destroys her credibility even if the diet and support system works. Having been in a similar program, the weight loss is real as is the support system and very powerful, but very judgmental and doesn’t address the “why”. Therefore obsessive thinking, anxiety, emotional disregulation all exists within the “right sized body.”
Since 30 years I try to loose weight. I found BLE and do it since 74 days. Till now it work perfectly for me an how I get know in facebook groups for other too. You don’t have to do the boot camp for 500$. You can read the book(get it from the library for free) and have all informations you need. I find it a pity that people doesn’t try this diet because of your bad review. I ask myself if you have read the book because there she explains why. The programm works best for people who have a high score in the test (you can find: http:77ble.life/dequiz). It is not the golden egg (how we say in our langugae), there are also people who struggle, but I never saw that lot of people who have lost really a lot of weight. Sometimes over 100lbs and could keep it. For myself I can say, till know I never had any cravings. I have no problem not to eat a piece of cake or drink alcohol. I think having a healthier body is feeling free, not thinking all the time about food is happyiness for me. S.P. is only a human being and sometimes human says things who are a bit stupid, like the one with the tape. But that doesn’t bother me. Lots of greetings and have a look at the program it is really worth. So you can decide yourself, if it is for you or not.
This is a great program for food addiction. If you don’t have food addiction, then u wouldn’t understand. I do this program and i wasn’t and am not overweight, but the addiction to food and the effects of it have went away. I feel so amazing. I am never hungry, and on maintenance i can eat a lot of healthy foods. So be nice, not everyone is in your boat. Thank you.
I heard about this from a friend who lost a lot of weight with it and must admit I was initially attracted to the idea – not because I need to lose weight, but because I don’t have a good relationship with food (overeat, emotionally eat etc) and thought its strict rules might help me. I’m already aiming for no sugar, no wheat & no snacks so it wasn’t totally off course. But then I listened to a podcast where they interviewed her and she came across as really awful. Completely egotistical, over-exaggerating her credentials and very proud of how much money she’s made from this online marketing scheme. So – no thanks!!
This review is not unbiased. It’s coming from the perspective of someone who can moderate. People who do well with moderation are probably not the best fit for this. I have lost almost 40 pounds – at 5’ 5” and 115 pounds, I am easily maintaining this weight (at 45 years old) and have healed bursitis and inflammatory arthritis. I have zero food cravings and feel amazing. Abstaining is easy for me. Moderation is not. I will happily forgo some foods to feel amazing.
This is a completely biased review of the program. Sugar is addicting. There have been peer reviewed studies showing MRIs on the brain with sugar vs cocaine. Even all the plant based doctors like Michael Greger (Nutritionfacts.org) and Dr Joel Fuhrman (known for his bestselling books and PBS specials) present study after study showing how bad sugar is. Animal products and processed foods are why Americans are so overweight and obese. Susan Pierce Thompson (SPT) is mostly plant based and if you’ve seen what she eats in a typical day, you know she eats very healthy. She oatmeal, plant based non sugar added yogurt with fresh berries for breakfast, raw veggies, fruit and hummus for lunch and a huge salad with tempeh for dinner. There are many people who do Bright Line Eating (BLE) in an unhealthy manner. Basically they eat the Standard American Diet (SAD) with tons of veggies. You can limit grains (and potatoes) and eat lots of beans or tempeh (as your protein), non starchy veggies and salad, fruit and use nuts as your fat. I would rather follow strict guidelines to live in a lean healthy body than to eat whatever the hell I want aka SAD and die prematurely and be sick 20-30 years before I die. The bright lines have helped me lose 98 lbs in a year. I am now a normal BMI but desire to bear leaner for health and longevity reasons. I am plant based.
Well written review. I did read Susan Pierce Thompson’s book, and tried her plan. However I couldn’t keep to it, so it did not work for me.
There are too many people who have developed type 2 diabetes along with other metabolic syndrome conditions, to not connect sugar, flour and starches to the problem of obesity. I was diagnosed with T2 about 5 years ago and after spending 8 months on what our current medical treatment is, I discovered a solution and have reversed the condition. If I go back to eating sugar and starches my T2 will no doubt return. Diets have never work for me and my current approach is controversial, but many have had the same result. The ketogenic way of eating, for me is a treatment and not a diet. I’m in my 5th year and enjoy everything I eat, even in restaurants.
I tried Bright Line Eating for 7 months. I went all in and followed the program to a T. You may not realise this, but BLE actually markets itself as a treatment option for eating disorders, which was why I started it in the first place (I’d had a long history of an ED). Well, my ED came back in full force within months of adopting BLE, but of course it took me a few months before I realised it’d happened (ED’s are sneaky buggars). BLE is a bit cult-ish and I couldn’t even see things clearly until I’d left. It’s a very dangerous program, especially for people with eating disorders. The Facebook groups almost read like a pro-ana website, which are website specifically promoting anorexia (a very dangerous mental illness). Don’t try this at home, kids.
Yeah have you seen her video about the food critic and the food indulger. At a restaurant her “food indulger” wanted more vegetables but she ended up not eating them to appease her inner food critic and to feel at peace. What the actual fuck lady. Vegetables.
Wonderful review. I’m just saying but it is kinda funny how BLE supporters defend the book through a focus on saying “but flour and sugar is indeed bad for you”, instead of addressing all the crazy parts of the book about weighing food at restaurants, weighing everything you eat, and taping over your dang mouth lol.
I get that some people can’t eat intuitively, even when they are not on restrictive diets. But a. The majority of people who feel like “i cant eat in moderation, I need to be super strict 24/7 or I will eat an entire house!!” only feel that way because their cues are shot from restrictive dieting, b. If you are the minority that can just never have intuitive eating signals, even when you are not dieting- there are still better, psychologically healthier ways to eat than to follow a book that tells you to weigh every single bite and tape over your mouth.
If you lost weight and kept it off by following the book, good on you for reaching a physically healthy weight, but there is never a need to sacrifice your mental health to get there. Which is the tradeoff the book demands. Personally, I dont want to be the 70 year in a nursing home refusing to eat a single cupcake or even a few meatballs without a nutritional label. You have one life.
I was formerly diagnosed with anorexia nervosa and even in the worst of it, I never brought an honest to god scale to a sodding restaurant lmao.
I did BLE in Jan 2019 and has taken me two years to recover. It started a disordered relationship with food that I did not have before. They literally teach you not to trust your body. It is cultish and like another review said above, it took me quite some time to understand why the program is so wrong. I am still working on healing myself (which I am doing through intuitive eating concepts).
Susan Pierce Thompson bases everything off a construct she made up called the “Susceptibility Scale.” If eating sugar makes you “susceptible” to bingeing, then you’re high on the scale. I bought into this concept and it made me believe I am a person who binges. Since then I have learned that my eating behaviors are like other life behaviors that I can change. They are not part of my God given body or who I am. Stay away from this program – it is very dangerous.
Wow. Eye opening. I almost joined a book club for this through my wellness group at work. After reading this review, I am so glad I didn’t. As someone who has struggled with anorexia in the past, the last thing I need is a diet “guru” who would make me believe my own wedding cake is off limits. Sheesh.
Um yeah. Exactly. This woman’s relationship with food is so incredibly disordered and the fact that the plan is designed to be followed for the rest of your life is mind blowing. This was actually recommended to me by a doctor (though she did say it’s not necessary to follow it to a T, but is good research to get off sugar addiction) so I paid the $14 for the 2 week program and joined the Facebook group. I saw some red flags from the beginning but within 2 days of actually joining I realized that she is basically promoting anorexia. Someone asked about adding calories if they have different needs and the answer that came was you’ll get used to eating the 1200 calories. UM WHAT. No thank you.