I began doing Bright Line Eating in October of 2016, and as I’ve shared, I’ve moved away from that way of eating. And while I’ve been exploring a mindful eating approach to deepening my relationship with food, I have no regrets about my time spent in BLE, and am endlessly grateful for the role that the program has had in my journey.
In this post thought I would share the biggest lessons and tools that I took away from the Bright Line Eating programs and community. Here they are in no particular order.
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. This lesson is where most of my freedom resides these days.
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 an immeasurable difference in literally everything in my life.
The biggest lesson I learned in Susan’s recent Reboot Rezoom course was that connection and support are key. In my inner circle (shout out to my Marco Polo besties) we talk about everything, all day, every day. We support each other in deepening 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.
Lesson #4: Foods with lots of sugar and flour don’t make me feel very good.
So, at this point you maybe wondering: am I eating sugar and flour? Not really. I find that I don’t want it. I don’t like how it makes me feel both mentally and physically. Will I eat a little bit in foods that call to me on occasion? Sure. Do I put a little bit of honey in my tea once in a while? Do I eat a few squares of dark chocolate every once in a while? Do I eat quinoa pancakes for dinner once in a blue moon? Yes, and I love it. Does it send me into a cycle of cravings, food thoughts, and binging? So far, no. If I do eat a little bit of flour or sweetener, I seem to do fine with small amounts in combination with lots of veggies, fruits, proteins, and fats.
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: Healthy 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 entirely food addiction, but also the fact that I 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 couple of the years 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 if I notice my portions have been gradually growing, I will weigh my food a couple of days to recalibrate my eyeballs and intuition. This for me is such a helpful tool.
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. And because I’ve come to trust that 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. Now THAT is a beautiful lesson learned.
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 highest authority on what I need and want to do with my food. I am self responsible.
In the Reboot Rezoom course, Susan was handing out permission left and right for everyone to do whatever serves them. There are no Bright Line Eating police, and everyone is self responsible. There is no good, bad, right, or wrong when it comes to food. There’s just self-knowledge, and what we choose to do to take care of ourselves knowing what we know about our own tendencies and histories with food.
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.
Lesson #10: I’m not a food addict, and I can learn to trust myself.
Fully taking on the identity of a food addict did serve me for a while. It 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.
Today, I have learned to trust myself around food again. I’m currently exploring some of the principles and ideas of movements such as Intuitive Eating and Mindful Eating. (Which are very different by the way, I used to think that they were the same thing). I am endlessly fascinated by this journey, and remain joyful and curious about where it will lead me next.
What have been your biggest lessons?