I began doing Bright Line Eating in October of 2016, and as I’ve shared, I’ve since moved away from it. And while I’ve worked hard to heal my relationship with food and am now an advocate for a more conscious path with food, I have no regrets about my time spent in BLE, and am grateful for the role that the program has had in my journey.
Here are the biggest lessons and tools that I took away from the Bright Line Eating programs and community.
Lesson #1: Hunger doesn’t have to be an emergency.
Before Bright Line Eating, I used to experience overwhelming cravings, and urgent, all consuming hunger. I didn’t know that hunger was a sensation that could feel normal or okay. I didn’t know that I could reduce and eliminate most of my cravings and learn to experience them as fleeting thoughts that don’t require action.
I suspect that removing the sugar and flour from my diet stabilized my blood sugars to the point where I could experience normal, non-stressful hunger sensations in my body. Meditation also helped me with this by teaching me to create pause and spaciousness around my decisions, and to be able to choose rather than react.
Lesson #2: I can get SO much more pleasure and satisfaction from deliciously prepared fruits, vegetables, fats, legumes, and whole grains than from processed foods, including sugar and flour.
Seriously, scrambled eggs, fresh pesto, sautéd greens and mushrooms, and roasted potatoes… pure bliss. Way better than anything I used to overeat or binge on. A lovingly prepared and healthy meal tastes incredible, and I enjoy it so much more than when I used to mindlessly shovel a bowl of pasta into my mouth until I felt sick. There’s no joy in that.
Lesson #3: Daily, face-to-face connection with supportive people makes a huge difference in literally everything in my life.
A major lesson from BLE was that connection and support are key in all life endeavors. To this day, I still maintain near daily connection with the small support circle that I was encouraged to form while in Bright Line Eating (shout out to my Marco Polo besties). We support each other in exploring our relationships with food, furthering our career paths, making life decisions, handling relationships, facing fears, celebrating wins, folding laundry, all of it. I am so grateful to them every day for their guidance, love, and support. One of them even became my business partner!
Lesson #4: Eating processed foods too often doesn’t make me feel very good.
I’ve become too attuned to and aware of how my body feels to put large amounts of junk into it. I don’t have any tolerance for how highly processed foods make me feel, physically or emotionally. My standard for feeling healthy and well is too high to want anything less than an abundance of whole, real foods. I have also come to associate the food that I put into my body as a symbol of self respect, and Bright Line Eating taught me that I was capable of treating myself with care and respect with the food that I put in my mouth.
Lesson #5: Portion sizes.
I now believe that the reason I had been struggling with my food and weight with before I found Bright Line Eating wasn’t food addiction, but the fact that I had gotten to adulthood and never learned what healthy eating looks and feels like.
The messages I got about food from my family and culture growing up were messages about how the purpose of food was pleasure, comfort, and connection with other people, and nothing about how food can be used to nourish the body and promote health and well being. That relationship and history with food, plus the ridiculous amount of indulgent “food” in our environment that is literally designed for people to become addicted to and crave it, was the perfect recipe for arriving into adulthood overweight, frustrated, and confused about why.
Putting my food on a digital food scale for a while was extremely instructive, not to make sure my portions were small enough, but to make sure that the quantities of healthful foods such as fruits, veggies, legumes, and whole grains were big enough. I don’t weigh my food anymore, but these days I intuitively still eat portions similar to what I used to in Bright Line Eating, because it’s what my body loves.
Lesson #6: Tight pants and weight creeping up is not an emergency.
We’ve all had those days where our pants feel tight. For me, my thoughts on those days have always included lots of self-criticism, guilt, and shame. I used to assume that on that day, even though my pants still fit, that I was now on an irreversible backslide and might as well give up on everything and just gain all my weight back.
When I actually think about that thought, it’s illogical and crazy. The reality is that nobody can tell that my pants feel tight that day, and nobody cares. And I didn’t gain all my weight back that day. It’s just my body’s feedback that there’s been some excess in my caloric intake. And it IS reversible! So easily reversible! I’ve found that it takes just 1 or 2 days of weighing my food to drop right back into my desired weight range. Just like that. Easy. The BLE tools are powerful for weight loss. And because I’ve come to trust that weight loss food plan, and the action of putting my food on the scale if I need to, I have lost all of my fears about gaining weight. I’ve even allowed myself to gain some weight back to a size that feels easier to maintain, because I’m no longer ruled by the fear that I can’t lose weight if I want to.
Lesson #7: My food choices directly affect my physical, emotional, and mental well being.
Through BLE I’ve learned how the food that I put in my body is connected to my physical and emotional state. I have become finely tuned, and know what foods give me vitality and boundless energy, and which ones make me feel foggy, sluggish, and even emotionally unstable.
Lesson #8: I am the best authority on what and how I should eat.
Bright Line Eating is a highly external-authority type of program, which is one of my major complaints about it. People call into coaching calls to get permission to add a few ounces of vegetables to their food plan, to ask whether certain foods are “compliant”, or to get permission to eat a snack on a hiking trip if they get too hungry. I find those questions to be completely ridiculous in retrospect, and also extremely counterproductive for learning to trust and listen to your own body’s wisdom.
So, I find it ironic that one of the lessons I learned was how to ignore other people telling me what I can and cannot eat, when I can eat, and how much I can eat. After enough frustrating experiences denying myself sane, and sensible food choices because the program “said so,” I finally stopped trying to “comply” and learned to trust myself and listen to my body.
Lesson #9: I am capable of maintaining a healthy adult weight, and living in a body that makes me feel self-expressed and joyful.
Because I have been. And it’s great. And guess what? My weight naturally fluctuates within a range of about 20 pounds over the course of a year. And guess what else? It doesn’t MATTER. It’s NORMAL. I am happy and comfortable in my body, free of mental drama about food and weight, and I love my food and enjoy my life.
Lesson #10: I’m not a food addict, and I can trust myself.
Fully taking on the identity of a food addict for a while allowed me to fully surrender to the tools and behaviors in the BLE program, and that surrender allowed me to see what a different lifestyle and way of relating to food could look like. It provided me a hard reset that I really needed in order to make real, long-term changes to my behavior.
But I eventually outgrew that identity, and I stopped believing that something about my brain was broken. I chose to adopt the belief instead that healing was available, and that addressing and fixing the fundamental problems in my relationship with food was possible.
What I’m Doing Now
Today, with the help of Annette and the Conscious Eating Community, I have learned to trust myself around food. I eat freely, and intuitively, and am working to strike a balance between overindulging and treating my body kindly with food. I am endlessly fascinated by this journey, and remain joyful and curious about where it will lead me next.
If you too are tired of restrictive, rigid eating and food rules and ready to do the work of learning to trust yourself around food…
If you’re ready to break free from your fears of weight gain…
If you want to finally find out what truly serves you…
If you want to be held by the loving support of a community of people working to do the same thing,
You’ll love our community.
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If you have spent time in Bright Line Eating, what have your experiences been? I’d love to hear in the comments.