My Bright Line Eating Review (What I Learned and Why I Left)

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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 am now exploring a different approach with food, I have no regrets about my time spent in BLE, and am grateful for the role that the program and community has had in my journey. I also have some fairly major criticisms of the program, and in this article I’ll share my comprehensive review of Bright Line Eating – both the wonderful lessons that I took away, my critiques, the reasons why I ultimately left, and what I’m doing now.

Why I Joined Bright Line Eating

When I stumbled upon Bright Line Eating, it felt like a beacon of hope and light. Like pretty much everyone, I arrived in adulthood with a strained relationship to my food, eating, weight, and body. Back in 2016, I was at my heaviest adult weight and struggling with compulsive and mindless overeating. I watched their “Food Freedom Video Series” and immediately bought into the “science-backed” story that my “food addiction” was to blame for my weight struggles. I quickly took on the belief that my brain was broken and simply wired for overeating, because that explanation made sense with my experience. In retrospect, I can see how blaming faulty wiring was also a nice way to alleviate guilt and shame about my eating behavior. It simplified the problem (food addiction) and had a clear solution: abstain from “triggering” foods and weigh and measure my food for the rest of my life. Easy, right?

What is Bright Line Eating?

If you’re not familiar with the program, it’s essentially a spin-off of 12-step programs for food addiction. Calling yourself a “bright line eater” means committing to four strict rules and striving to never break them:

  1. no eating sugar (including all sweeteners besides fruit)
  2. no eating flour (including alternative flours or processed grains)
  3. only eat during mealtimes without anything in between
  4. weigh and measure quantities of food according to a very specific food plan

This “solution” was easy enough to buy into when it was accompanied by the thrill of weight loss, and because I was instantly convinced that my struggles with overeating in the past meant I was a food addict and needed an extreme solution. So I fully surrendered to this way of eating.

The Initial Benefits of Bright Line Eating

When I began this highly structured way of eating, I can’t deny that I felt great. I immediately and easily lost a bunch of weight, developed awesome meal planning habits, learned how to cook vegetables, and quickly rose as a leader and recipe guru in the BLE community.

If you haven’t followed me for very long, you may not know that I originally started this food blog to share BLE-compliant “hacks” and delicious recipes broken down for their food plan. My blog was originally called “Katie’s Bright Kitchen” until I broke ties with the program and was asked to change my name due to trademark issues. But that’s a story for another day.

Looking back, there are many lessons and benefits that I learned in my first year of Bright Line Eating that I will be forever grateful for. Among them are:

Benefit #1: My blood sugar issues stabilized and I learned what normal hunger feels like.

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 emotionally neutral or okay. It was mind blowing to experience cravings at an all-time low, and learn to experience hunger as a fleeting sensation that doesn’t always require immediate action. This was a really big deal for me. 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 discomfort and to be able to choose rather than react.

Benefit #2: I completely changed my relationship with healthy food.

Maybe the most important lesson I learned from cutting processed foods out of my diet is that can get SO much more pleasure and satisfaction from deliciously prepared fruits, vegetables, fats, legumes, and whole grains than from heaps of 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. 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 way beyond fullness. There’s no joy in that.

Benefit #3: I learned the power of being in a supportive community.

Bright Line Eating was the first coaching and personal growth container I’d ever experienced, and it was definitely transformational to be part of a community of people working on the same thing together. I learned that whenever I want to grow in some way, I need to surround myself with people committed to the same transformation. 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!

Benefit #4: I loosened my attachment to highly processed foods.

Experiencing a period of super “clean” eating made me highly attuned to and aware of how my body feels when I’m eating a lot of highly processed foods. I developed a new standard for feeling healthy and well that makes me genuinely desire an abundance of whole real foods in my diet. These days, if I go for more than a few meals without eating a plate full of fruits and vegetables, I start to crave produce-heavy meals. After I’d left BLE, I went through a process of unlearning the idea that highly processed foods were “bad” and learned to enjoy them in moderation, but it was helpful to have a period of time when those foods weren’t in my system at all, just to know what that feels like.

Benefit #5: I developed better intuition about portion sizes.

Like many of us, I had gotten to adulthood without really learning what healthy eating habits look 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. 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 or measure 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.

Benefit #6: I learned how my food choices directly affect my physical, emotional, and mental well being. 

While doing BLE I 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.

Benefit #7: I quickly and easily lost a bunch of weight.

If your goal is to lose weight quickly, the BLE food plan really works for that. It’s great for restricting caloric intake without feeling ravenous and deprived all the time, and I actually really enjoyed being on it (for a time). It was the first time I’d ever found weight loss to be easy, and I won’t pretend that the quick weight loss wasn’t thrilling, because it was. I think that it was significant and important to reach my arbitrary “goal weight” (which by the way turned out to be unsustainable for my body) simply so that I could realize that my life wasn’t really any different after I’d reached it, to see how easy it is to never feel satisfied with how my body looks, and to let go of the idea that my weight matters. 

It’s also maybe worth mentioning here that you don’t need to join BLE to access their magical weight loss food plan, it’s the same one they use in Food Addicts Anonymous (although it’s not explicitly used for weight loss in that program) and it’s available for free online with just a quick google search. It’s also worth noting that I do believe that it’s possible to use the plan as a tool for weight loss without taking on all the disempowering messages about addiction and the “all-or-nothing” perfection mindset. I’ve used it very imperfectly (even as imperfectly as only following it for 2 meals a day while allowing snacking) and still lost weight. It’s really just a formalized version of a normal, healthy way of eating that any nutritionist would probably endorse, and it makes sense that it supports weight loss.

Why I Started Straying from Bright Line Eating

Despite all these wonderful benefits, at some point, all of it began to feel… off. I often found myself saying no to things I wanted to do because it was too hard to stick to my food plan. It felt like bright lines were making my world smaller. My way of eating was my top priority, sometimes at the expense of connection with others.⁠ Without the excitement of weight loss motivating all of it, I slowly began to realize that the strict eating rules and “food addict” story wasn’t serving me anymore. I began to see the undercurrent of fear, guilt, and shame around food that my program was built on, and that wasn’t a lifestyle I wanted for myself long term. 

As I began losing confidence in the BLE rules, I started experimenting with my boundaries and it got harder and harder to stick to my bright lines. After feeling like I was “failing” at BLE for a while, I finally realized that people can’t stick to things that don’t align with their values or goals. Weight loss wasn’t a goal of mine anymore, so it didn’t make sense to keep eating that way. Deep down, I also didn’t believe that there was something inherently wrong with me, and ultimately I wasn’t willing to spend my life avoiding and being afraid of food. So, carefully and slowly, I set out on a journey to heal and master my relationship with food, and gradually reintroduced sugar and flour into my life. But it wasn’t easy, and I couldn’t have done it without Annette‘s fantastic mindfulness coaching and the Conscious Eating Community (more on that later.)

My Criticisms of Bright Line Eating

While I am hugely grateful for all the gifts and lessons of my time in Bright Line Eating, looking back from where I am now I also have some pretty major criticisms. 

Criticism #1: Bright Line Eating’s hyper fixation on numbers, body size, and weight is crazy making.

At the end of the day, Bright Line Eating is a weight loss program. It takes only one glance at their instagram account, reading their tagline of “happy thin and free,” or a few moments in their facebook group to see the focus on pounds lost, before and after pictures, and people hell-bent on getting into their “right sized body.” For anybody trying to develop a peaceful relationship with their body in the long term, I’m pretty sure that a method fueled by a desire for control, desperation to change the body, and a restrictive way of eating isn’t the way to do it.

Since I reached my “goal weight” doing Bright Line Eating a few years ago, I’ve gained some of it back.⁠ And guess what? I feel more loving and peaceful about my larger body now than when I was at my “goal weight” as defined by Bright Line Eating.⁠ Even when I was fitting into my aspirational size 4 clothes, I still looked in the mirror and saw only flaws and things that I wanted to change.⁠ Now, at a size 10 or 12 or whatever (honestly I have no idea, I don’t care anymore) I genuinely feel kindness toward my body now, or at least neutrality. I’m also not ravenously hungry all the time (which was true when I was in a smaller body). 

At this point, I would even argue that a hyper-focus on weight loss actually has the opposite effect – fueling mental chatter, the inner rebel, shame, guilt, and the roller coaster of restriction and overeating.⁠ A lesson I keep learning over and over is that when I stop trying to lose weight and focus instead on how I want to feel and eating more mindfully, I naturally eat less and start losing weight.⁠

I’m now of the mind that when we stop trying to control our bodies and enter into a kinder relationship with them, the weight thing naturally works itself out.⁠ I now define my goal weight to whatever weight serves my life, and that can fluctuate, along with whatever is happening in my life.⁠ I’m committed now to shifting the focus away from a fixation on weight and toward building a life I truly love. I’ve noticed that food and weight issues tend to be downstream of issues we’re having in other areas in our lives, or they are the result of not having ways of moving through challenging emotions such as fear, anxiety, guilt, and shame without turning to food.

Criticism #2: Bright Line Eating actively teaches people that they cannot trust themselves or their bodies.

Bright Line Eating takes away your authority about your own body and places it in the hands of an external authority to tell you exactly what, when, and how to eat. People call into BLE 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. The decisions made by these “BLE gods” feel arbitrary at times, and don’t really make a lot of sense. For example, it’s ok to eat pasta made with legumes but not grains. Smoothies and blended foods aren’t allowed, but mashed bananas are fine. When I found out that a serving of edamame was 4 oz instead of 6 oz, I was horrified and devastated that I’d unknowingly been “bad.” I felt immense guilt at drinking kombucha once in a while, eating an apple in the afternoon if I was ravenous, or eating a single square of dark chocolate on a special occasion, even though these things felt completely sane and healthy to me. 

In retrospect, it is apparent to me the damage that this mindset caused, because it taught me to disassociate from my body and override hunger and fullness signals with advice like “drink water or distract yourself to get through the hunger pangs” or “eat the entire 14 ounces of vegetables even if you’re too full.” I grew increasingly frustrated from denying myself sane and sensible choices because the program “said so,” which is one of the reasons I eventually left.

Criticism #3: The “food addict” label is not a helpful framing for everyone in the program.

So many people have shared with me that they found the tools of BLE helpful but that they never connected with the food addiction thing. That was my experience too. The “science backed” label of food addict seems to make sense at first, but ultimately can become disempowering and a recipe for fear and shame. It’s just not everyone’s experience in the program. It feels a little extreme to many of us with a history of mild overeating and weight fluctuation to jump to the conclusion that we are addicts for whom “total abstinence” is the only option. But we still want to lose weight, so we take it on anyway.

Criticism #4: Bright Line Eating uses fear, guilt, and shame to try and change eating behaviors.

At first Bright Line Eating feels like a very positive and encouraging place (and it is if your goal is to lose weight and surrender completely to your “addict” diagnosis) but there is also an undercurrent of disempowering and punishing language disguised as support and encouragement. There is a constant focus on “rezooming” every time you “break” your bright lines, which feeds fear and anxiety about how if you fail, you will go “off the rails” and end up “in the ditch.” Bright Line Eating is the most extreme example I’ve seen (with the exception of its 12-step parent) of placing moral judgements on food and eating behaviors, citing questionable “science” about how sugar and flour are the same as heroin to justify why some foods are right and good, and others are wrong and bad. I spent years being afraid of holidays and social gatherings, terrified of what would happen if I ate one bite “off plan,” or worrying that the world would end if I blended a soup. That’s not food freedom, that’s food prison. Self-loathing and fear can motivate us to do things differently, but ultimately I think it’s a dirty fuel for behavior change. 

Criticism #5: Bright Line Eating is a growth-oriented program with a fixed mindset around food.

Looking back, I find it strange and inconsistent that a coaching program that places such an emphasis on self awareness and personal growth has such black and white thinking around the issue of eating. The “susceptibility scale” that they use to “diagnose” how addicted to food you are is a very disempowering tool, because it ties us to a fixed story about how we are around food, creates a limiting belief about ourselves, and leaves no room to grow.⁠

I disagree with the premise that how we used to behave means something important about what we are capable of in the future. We might have had certain habits or behaviors in the past, but that means nothing about how our behavior and patterns can change with new awareness and new tools on board.⁠ For example, yes, I used to have a bingey relationship with a basket of fries. Does that mean I can’t bring new awareness to that behavior and change my relationship with that food? No. I now have a very peaceful relationship with fries and can happily walk away after eating just a handful.⁠ But for years my beliefs about my “susceptibility score” stopped me from learning to enjoy “triggering” foods that I love in a sane way.⁠ For a consciousness raising program, they take a strangely unconscious approach to eating.

Criticism #6: It’s not bad to enjoy food.

There’s a saying in BLE that I really hate, which is “we keep our food black and white so we can live our lives in color.” Ugh. This “food should only be fuel” mentality makes me so sad.⁠ This idea completely erases the capacity of food to add richness, beauty, and joy to our lives. Food has the ability to give us fuel, nourishment, comfort, joy, happiness, connection with other humans, connection with other beings, connection with the earth, a path for spiritual growth and healing, pleasure, relief from emotional pain, entertainment, and so much more. Why oversimplify something so rich, beautiful, and nuanced?

The messaging in Bright Line Eating promotes a weird, puritanical relationship with pleasure. Food that is too enjoyable is painted as sinful in BLE, and many people have told to me that creating this kind of negative charge and judgement around certain foods caused new binging behaviors that they hadn’t seen before. It reminds me of that scene in Chocolat when the town mayor gives into temptation and goes on an unrestrained chocolate bender. Making something “bad” can have the unintended effect of making it all the more appealing.

How I Transitioned Away from Bright Line Eating

As I began losing confidence in the beliefs I’d taken on in BLE, I slowly began to loosen the structure around my eating while receiving informal mindfulness coaching from my friend Annette. I practiced listening to my body, responding to hunger and fullness, using mindful eating techniques, working gently with negative body thoughts, and not believing every “should” or “shouldn’t” thought that entered in my head. I put the scale away, let go of the number, watched my body size fluctuate, and consciously chose not to freak out.

Slowly, I began cautiously deviating from my bright lines and finding a little discomfort, but none of the doomsday consequences I’d imagined.⁠ I gathered a small support group and we set our sights not just on maintenance but mastery. With lots of support and self-compassion on board, I gradually learned to trust myself again with my food choices. But it did take a while. And it was definitely scary.

My Conclusions About Bright Line Eating

Bright lines and a structured way eating can serve some people indefinitely as a long term lifestyle. I certainly benefited from it for a couple of years.⁠ But for others of us, bright lines may only be the beginning of a healing journey with our relationship to food, body, and weight. I eventually outgrew that identity, and I stopped believing that something about me was broken. I chose to adopt the belief instead that growth was possible, and that addressing the underlying issues with my relationship with food was a better approach.

There’s a zen proverb that a snake doesn’t know itself until it’s in a bamboo rod.

Cutting sugar and flour out of my diet and following a highly structured food plan for roughly two years was instructive. I learned a lot about myself during that time, like the snake in the bamboo rod.⁠ I learned when and why I look to food to meet emotional needs, and how different foods impact how I feel.⁠ The bamboo rod of BLE helped me learn that I love fruits and vegetables. I learned that what I eat for breakfast matters for my energy throughout the day. I learned that food is a source of joy and entertainment for me. I also learned that strict food rules make me feel isolated, disconnected, disempowered, and constrained, and so I eventually moved on. I want my eating to serve my life, rather than my life serving a way of eating.

I won’t deny that the hard reset and clear boundaries that BLE created in my life was helpful for losing weight and shifting my habits. Maybe the kind of life changes I made wouldn’t have been possible without the wall of fear preventing me from straying. But that wall of fear is only helpful as long as it’s intact. Once you start breaking through it and creating a habit of breaking the lines, then they lose their usefulness, because you can’t trust them to hold you anymore.

Would I recommend Bright Line Eating to someone? Honestly, no. Unless you are are suffering medical complications from obesity and are desperate for quick weight loss, I think the disempowering messaging of BLE does more harm than good. BLE offers an extreme solution that can be life-changing and transformational for those with extreme histories and behaviors with food. But I’m not one of those people, and neither are many other BLEers I talk to who are seeking more of a middle path. There are a lot of great things about Bright Line Eating, but ultimately I see it as a dead end for people who want to build a loving and trusting relationship with their bodies.

Why We Started the Conscious Eating Community

In 2020, I teamed up with a fellow ex-BLEer and mindfulness coach to create a guilt and shame free space full of love, support, and curiosity where people could explore a way of eating that works for them.⁠ The program we’ve built since then is exactly what I wish I’d had back when I was transitioning out of BLE.

Why do we call ourselves Conscious Eating? The world conscious simply means being aware, and paying attention. Eating whatever you want all the time and indulging every craving is an unconscious way of eating. Adhering to strict boundaries and weighing every bite of food so that you don’t have to pay attention to food is also an unconscious way of eating. We teach people to approach food more mindfully, and help them define their own sane, middle path with food that is something between rigid food rules and constantly overindulging in response to craving.

Together, we practice gently letting go of our “shoulds” and shed our stories about how we think we are around food, so that we can tap into our direct experience and body’s wisdom to discover what is actually true for us.⁠ The mindfulness techniques that we teach and practice are specifically designed to help people turn less and less towards food to avoid or fix emotional difficulty, and to navigate swirly food and body moments more skillfully from a calm center.⁠

Conscious Eaters are committed to having a kind, compassionate relationship with their bodies, instead of trying to dominate and control them. We don’t encourage or discourage any particular way of eating, and we serve people who come from Bright Line Eating, Food Addicts Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Intuitive Eating, chronic dieters, and people who just eat food and don’t have an acronym or label.⁠ We help our members to do whatever style of eating they choose from a place of self care and self love, and to step out of fear or self-aggression, which is where many of us get stuck.⁠

Are You Struggling to Stick to Bright Lines?

Not being able to stick to bright lines consistently might be a sign that you’re ready to explore how flexibility in your eating might serve your life.

If you are feeling 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’re curious how mindfulness practices can change your life, if you’re curious what would would happen if you turned toward discomfort instead of spending so much energy trying to avoid it, and if you want to be held by the loving support of a community of people working to do the same thing, you’ll love what we’re doing over in the Conscious Eating Community.

Annette and I have created a FREE video course where we’ll introduce you to the Conscious Eating mindset, our framework, foundational principles, and essential toolkit. We’re basically giving you everything you need to get started on your Conscious Eating Path toward a more sane, empowered, and peaceful relationship with food and your body. Click here to watch.

My Relationship With Food Today

Today, with the help of Annette and the Conscious Eating Community, I have finally learned to trust myself around food. I eat freely, and intuitively, and my work right now is about striking a balance between enjoying pleasurable foods and offering my body the same love and kindness I that would a dear friend.

It turns out that I’m not a food addict, and I can trust myself. I am the best authority about my own body and how I should eat, and I AM capable of maintaining a healthy adult weight, and living in a body that serves a joyful life without fixating on every bite of food I eat. If you want that too, I’m here to say that it’s possible, and if you’re resonating with what I’ve shared in this post, I do hope you’ll check out what we’re up to!

Is This Blog Still for Bright Line Eaters?

I know that I still have many readers who follow BLE. If that is you, please know that it is my goal to support you wherever you are on your own messy path, and I truly honor you and your unique, perfect, winding journey toward peaceful eating and self-love, even if that includes bright lines. Goodness knows I found them helpful for a time too. 

Nowadays, I work hard to create recipes and content that is helpful to everyone, including BLEers. However, I am no longer permitted to share recipes explicitly labeled or broken down for their food plan, due to BLE’s new trademark rules. Within these constraints, I do my best to share delicious, sugar and flour free recipes, because I still pretty much eat that way and I love my BLE friendly meals! The only difference is now I just think of them as regular, healthy, delicious meals, and I don’t try to fit them perfectly to the BLE plan. I hope you still find something of value here.

I Want to Hear From You!

If you have spent time in Bright Line Eating, what have your experiences been? I’d love to hear from you in the comments, or feel free to e-mail me at [email protected]

With great love and respect,

Katie

63 Comments

  1. Donna Maher-Mielzynski

    Loved this 100%. See! You are taking us along for the “middle path” journey just fine! You’ve articulated what many of us have and are experiencing having learned from our own journeys with Bright Line Eating – knowledge, discipline, focus, healthy eating, etc. We’ve learned a lot! And it will serve us for the rest of our lives as we find our personal version of happy, thin and FREE. We can still be a tribe together! Thanks, Katie. 🌷 Donna

  2. Terry Nunez

    Thank you for sharing your list Katie, I particularly agree with #5🌹

  3. Kathy

    yes, agree! I was exploring both mindful eating and intuitive eating before starting with this and that is my goal. I am not doing BLE 100% since I cannot eat that much at a meal and all that effort to be mindful does not allow me to simply stuff myself to sickness. I want to stick with the no sugar and flour (mostly) but also want to monitor my hunger and fullness and not force feed. Have any ideas on mindful vs. intuitive?

  4. Sara Kaufman

    Great stuff. Ty for sharing so honestly and openly. You provide strength to us all. Thank you

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  5. SUSAN DEAN

    I’ve read your posts for years. This one makes so much sense. You go girl… and thanks for your insights and motivational words. Susan Dean

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  6. Rose Henderson

    Love your post Katie, and would like to join your tribe. Perhaps I already have! My only negative about BLE is the perfectionist thinking that caused my overeating in the first place: “not one baby carrot more than I have planned and weighed”. I love No 6. As someone who lost 30 lbs, regained it and lost it again since starting BLE in 2016, I am finding compassion in the gains rather than panic that my brain will not help me. Grateful to Susan and BLE. Grateful for the friendships that have emerged. Grateful for learning to love this body and this practised way of thinking new thoughts around food.

    • Sherry Seher

      Rose Henderson,
      Yes , the rigid perfectionism also did not resonate with me ! I rebel at that ! For a lifelong plan to succeed for me, I need some flexibility, or I tend to drop the whole program, which is also not wise of me ! And yet, within Susan’s structure, she did a vlog about just consuming an apple without any measurement, knowing that apples can vary greatly in size and shape ! I found that to be contradictory within other her other paradigms and rather confusing, though also freeing !

  7. Thanks, Katie, for sharing your thoughts about the process and how it all relates to YOU. I’ve been in BLE for almost 2.5 years and have bigger challenges–my body really wants to hang onto the weight, so my “maintenance” is at a heavier place than I would like, and I have to be very careful about my choices even within BLE because I struggle with hunger in this weight range. But I used to weigh more than 100 pounds more than I do now, and in my journey, which has included a 12-step component for more than a decade, I am discovering my own “sweet spot” of freedom and balance. For me that means discovering that the food itself was my biggest problem, and I’m not in such desperate need of the 12-step work. And that’s a good realization, too. I’ve been living in this weight range for more than a year now and am living a miracle!

  8. Sandy

    Beautifully said! I would like to explore the intuitive—mindful eating. I will continue to stay with the no sugar/no flour Bright Lines. And like you, I don’t weigh everything always as I use the same plate and eat a whole food rotation so I know what my portion size should be and like you, I weigh everything for a couple of days to get back on track as needed. I am grateful for the BLE as it taught me meditation skills and gave me simple 4 ways to make the changes I needed — lifestyle changes I could embrace. Honestly, YOU led me to BLE as I followed you for 6 or more months before signing up for Boot Camp. Your enthusiasm and easy guidelines into BLE meals encouraged me to do the BC. And I am so looking forward to following your lead on the intuitive-mindful path! Hugs!

  9. Christy

    I love this list Katie!! Thanks for sharing. You and I started boot camp the same time and I lost 70 pounds. I found the program easy to follow til I hit my goal weight and started maintenance. Then I started questioning whether this could be a lifestyle I could maintain and decided I needed some freedom around food. I’m looking forward to your post on mindful and intuitive eating.
    Love,
    Christy

  10. Rose Riedel

    Thank you Katie for your open communication and encouragment.

  11. Sherry Seher

    Hi Katie!
    From the beginning, I have felt that Susan’s approach had a basic “ fear of food “ core , and that may be very valid in her individual case, though her promotion of vegetables as a key part of a meal consumption , as well as portion control, has made all of the difference in my food orientation ! After many diets over the years, I knew that veggies played a vital role in weight loss, due to their low calorie content with high nutritional value, but no other plan suggested consumption of sooo many of them daily ! While I no longer include 20 ounces, I am still mindful of choosing a generous veggie serving as my foundation first before making my prior meal plan thinking of all protein ( I am a carnivore ) and starch, with a small side of a veggie and only because “ it is good for me” mentality !
    I am forever grateful to Susan and still follow her plan somewhat loosely, and always shall, as she has opened my eyes as to what food group is necessary to me as a volume eater ( which even my hubby has observed ) and how to get rid of the incessant cravings and feelings of needing to keep stuffing my face with food, which has a real physical basis, and not necessarily an emotional one ! So many other plans assume that people overeat for emotional reasons only, and I used to find that to be so annoying ! Yes, I admit to a certain element of that at times, but not on a day to day basis ! Susan has freed me from that !
    Is my brain broken ? Perhaps, but I agree with your newer identity, a healing one, which is a far more positive slant. I am also grateful to Susan for the whole identity concept, something that I had not consciously considered. It does make avoiding harmful foods that do not serve me that much easier to turn down, both within my own thinking, and as other people get to know that “ Sherry doesn’t eat that “ ! Thank you for your honesty and courage to express your true feelings! You are not alone in what you are self observing and in where you are finding growth !
    I also eat 4x a day. Going from noon to a 7 PM dinner is a plan for making me miserable, ravenous and grumpy ! I refuse to to live that way ! Again, finding and doing what works for me within Susan’s general outline. I do not wish to impose my ideas on anyone else, but rather just express what is necessary for what works for me .
    Sorry for the rant, it is something that I have felt the need to express since I started with Susan’s approach last Autumn .

  12. Melissa Blackwell

    I am so happy for you and the lessons you learned. As someone just starting out- I have learned that whole real food can be pleasurable and satisfying. I am starting to not obsess about food which frees my mind and my awareness to work on other areas of my life. I love that and for the first time in the last 30 years I feel free. I appreciate your menus they have inspired me to try new foods which I know love. Thank you!

  13. Anonymous

    Thank you Katie. I have been struggling with some of these questions lately. Its good to have your perspective. 🙂

  14. At this point, my biggest take-away from BLE/ReZoom is the self-compassion I have about the various Parts of me, in their attempts to help me be happy (e. g., the Indulger saying “you so deserve a cookie”).

  15. Myra Ronan

    I am just starting my BLE journey so sticking closely to the plan. I am, however, enjoying reading your insightful and thoughtful comments. No telling what I may face in the future. Grateful right now for the freedom I am starting to feel about food decisions.

  16. Thank you Katie. That was very focused and helps me to articulate for myself where I am. I do know that my health, self care which includes exercise and rest along with good choices profoundly affects my eating and my energy.
    I am learning to take care of myself better and I still rely on much of the BLE program and at the same time find myself leaving behind the “addict” label. I too am in transition and still am enjoying the journey….For me it really is so much more than food.

  17. Teresa

    Hi Katie,

    I have loved both of your posts-I so appreciate your honesty and your journey with BLE. I am still on weight loss but already know that after I have been through weight loss, and likely maintenance for a period of time I will add foods that are not allowed on the BLE food plan, they are traditional foods in our indigenous ways (such as acorn flour and mesquite flour)here in California. I am a strong advocate of incorporating traditional foods back into our diets. I find the support and food plan are incredibly beneficial in showing me what sustains my body and I’ve lost nearly 50 lbs in less than 5 months. I have more to go. I am forever thankful to have found BLE. Ultimately, the path is our own personal path.

  18. Sharon Kopenski

    Perfect. You’re speaking the truth for so many of us. Thanks for putting it in words and validating what I feel

  19. Thank you! I think your post is timely, in line with a group that’s starting up in BL’ers…for those who are lower on the SS. I hope you will still keep making meals that are measured BLE style though? I I #love your recipes!!!

    • Don’t worry, I will keep being if service to ble’ers, but I’m just gonna start broadening my reach a bit to align better with my own truths.

  20. MarSea Burton

    Katie I’m struggling big and have never got on for whatever reasons. I did lose
    Weight on the FA plan but could never get back going again. I am struggling in a lot
    Of areas in my life and just broken. I am not sure what I’m supposed to learn
    About all of this time maybe it’s just to let go.
    I do want to say I value your help and input it does give me hope and for this and
    You I’m grateful.
    Please keep sending your emails and more importantly your thoughts it is
    Sleeping in.
    Hugs
    MarSea

    Sent from my iPad

  21. Laura

    I studied intuitive eating before BLE too, but it didn’t acknowledge food addiction or the addictive effects of processed foods, and it wasn’t helping me reach my health goals, not in an actionable concrete and helpful way, but I can see it helping others in a different situation than me. I like to think of a BLE as training wheels for a healthy lifestyle, as well as a safety net. I am sticking to it 100% until I get down to goal weight, because I know that’s the fastest and easiest way to get there, but I also hope to be more intuitive at some point in the future since I believe that is the ideal way to live. Who knows, I may never graduate to a big-girl bike and that’s okay. I know if IE doesn’t work BLE is a safe place to land. I have learned so much and feel so empowered. My biggest thing I’ve realized after being free from the effects of processed foods is that I can either give up my power and live for food letting it jerk me around, or I can use my power to choose life by choosing life-sustaining foods in the right amounts. It makes the small decisions pretty easy when I’m in charge and remembering what I’m living for. Thank you for your contributions to the BLE world, your inspiring example, and for your honesty and transparency and thoughtful insights. (btw, I am @just.a.nibble on Instagram)

  22. thiswellseasonedlife

    Katie, Thank you so much for writing this post. It comes across as so very heart felt and sincere. I really appreciated it and look forward to seeing the direction you take your stuff! I wrote a review of my time in BLE but I took a different approach. I’d love to know if it resonates with you (or anyone else who happens to read this comment.) Here’s the link: https://thiswellseasonedlife.com/bright-line-eating-reviews/ Thanks for inspiring us to keep growing. – Andrea

  23. Suzanne Mcconnaughey

    I relate to your comments. I made millet cakes this morning with 4 oz cooked millet, 1 egg, 1 oz almond flour and 1/4 teas baking powder. Cooked in 1 tbs ghee. Ate it with frozen cherries and a tbs of maple syrup. It didn’t trigger cravings.

  24. Helen Glitsos

    Thank you so much for this intuitive post Katie, I loved reading it! I discovered you 2 years ago when I started my BLE journey (forever grateful to Susan for opening my eyes), I love your recipes (even though I’m a carnivore) and your insightful blogs, which are so relatable to me. Lessons #7, #9 and #10 (food addict is something I’ve never been able to accept) are my favourites and I can relate to all your lessons. Now that I’m close to goal I am keen to learn more about about how to live my life with a more mindful and intuitive relationship with food. Thank you, I can’t wait to read and learn more about the next steps in your journey, Helen xx

  25. Mary McHargue

    Support, support, support. I can not begin to describe how important that is for me. I did not know how much I needed it until I had it. My Mastermind group is still meeting weekly and connecting in-between calls with texts of encouragement almost daily.

  26. Gabriella Cassano

    I am a fairly newcomer to Bright Line Eating. I wonder what are the daily amounts for the program for a man? Are they different portion sizes?

    • Hi! Yes, the food plan has slightly larger portions for men. You’ll have to consult the book or BLE programs for the exact food plan, I’m not allowed to share it.

  27. Loved what you wrote I started ble in November last year to lose about 12 pounds. It took ages and I had to cut down the recommended diet plan before I saw any results.
    I lost the weight and have since gained a bit back.
    Can not budge it which makes me think my goal weight might be too low
    I agree with so much of what you wrote
    I too don’t t believe I am a food addict. I can eat a little bit of flour and it does not trigger me
    I am a very small eater and rarely over eat
    I have a history of dieting and restricting so ble has taught me to eat three meals a day and to increase my veg and fruit which is good
    And also I realise i snack … a lot
    I struggle with ble as I am not a rule follower

    I like to modify and do my own thing
    So am doing a sort of version of ble now
    But not losing weight 😢
    I am very interested to hear more about mindfulness and intuitativr eating
    And would love to be part of this group
    You are an inspiration
    🙏

  28. Jessi

    Thank you Katie, for sharing the rich variety in recipes!
    Reading about your experiences is very insightful. I wonder what number you are on the susceptibility scale?

    • I was a 7 when I took it. Personally, I take that scale with a grain of salt, as I’ve seen people who have scored 10+ shift to a more conscious and sane relationship with food, even outside of bright lines. I think it says a lot about someones eating behaviors in the past, but that it doesn’t predict what’s possible for someone’s healing or eating behaviors in the future.

  29. Audrey

    Thank you for #8. The snack during hiking/working out is a question I had as I am on day 4, (Did this a year ago and got down close to goal, then gained.) I am already REALLY hungry between meals. I don’t know if that is because I’m not used to it or because I’m within 10 pounds of goal. Wondering if I should add an extra vegetable to plan or if I have the freedom to add a small sweet potato to lunch/dinner. I feel I have “permission” from you post to do what makes sense. I’m sticking with no snacking, no sugar, no flour. But while on two day hike, I get incredibly hungry from the intensity of activity, and have to eat something every 2 hours so that will be something I do to balance calories spent/burned. My food choices will change a bit. Probably won’t choose white bagels anymore! And I need to nix cliff bars while hiking (sniff sniff). I’m trying to do it by guidelines this first week, then make minimal tweaks next week. This is hard, but I love not feeling as consumed with recipes and thoughts of food constantly. I know it is the path to freedom.

  30. Anonymous

    I loved this article. I had a similar experience. I started BLE almost 4 years ago. My relationship with food is still one in which I feel powerless. I felt strong for two years and it has helped me in many ways but at the end of the day, I have felt pretty bad about myself recently.

    1. It has helped me to not want to eat processed food. I genuinely don’t crave it most of the time.
    2. I do struggle with compulsive eating still with high quantities of feel good foods like smoothies which does lead to foods that I have labeled as “bad” chocolate as an example. I guess in a way it has showed me that compulsive food choices tends to escalate my food choices.
    3. It has led to beautiful connections
    4. The first two years, I felt like you, on top of the world. I agree that something is missing. I started losing control and developed and continue to have a tremendous fear of food. I feel pretty torn about everything, to be honest. I wish the program fostered more of a self-locus of control towards maintenance as you described. I remember training for a triathlon and being too afraid to add food. Years later and I am finding myself slowly gaining my weight back after an injury and still not having the tools to emotionally sit with physical discomfort. I hope to have the piece that you have found one day.
    Thanks for your writing.

  31. I agree with you but not 100%. I feel the BLE program is critical for obese people who have tried and failed in every other program and just can’t lose or stay away from food. For those people, BLE is a life saver. I also think the food addict scale is not really that accurate. I think I was a 7. I lost 34 lbs but sadly have gained about 24 back and maintaining. I was never at goal but I honestly felt “visible” when I was at my lowest and I was uncomfortable for fear I couldn’t maintain it. And I didn’t. It took several years to gain it back though. I joined your joyful program on July 1 and have enjoyed the food immensely! I havent weighed so don’t know if I lost any and don’t really care. I just know that I have more energy and not necessary to take daily naps like I used to. I’m craving more healthy food and I appreciate being able to eat rice or a big of carbs. My fridge is loaded with produce and I”m enjoying the heck out of it. Thank you Katie for what you have done. BLE has a place but it isn’t the only program that works. And I didn’t lose quickly. It took near ten months to lose the 34 lbs I lost. I was 70 at the time. And it did feel good.

    • Katie Gates

      I really appreciate this perspective Carol, thank you for sharing. I agree that BLE has a place, and that extreme measures are helpful for those in an extreme category, like you said. There’s no denying that it is a life saver for some. But I think it’s also important to give voice to other experiences and I don’t hear anybody talking about some of the things I shared in this article. Thank you for adding nuance to the discussion Carol! I’m so glad you are finding BLE helpful and also the things I’ve offered too! There’s plenty of room in the world for all of it.

  32. I have been a fan of yours for years, use many of your recipes all the time and have joined Prepear on your suggestion. I have been trying to get back bright lines since I lost them after a tour to Israel with no success. My weight has gone up 20 lbs but I have remained here for close to a year and am not fretting too much. I would like to lose the 20 lbs mostly because the new clothes I bought back then are too tight for my comfort.

  33. Madeline Caporale

    Thank you for your share. After over two years of having adopted the ‘four lines’ I find that I am loosening my adherence to them somewhat. Like you, I do feel that the program helped me to learn healthy portions and to really examine and heal my relationship with food. I find that more and more I am using the ‘lines’ as simply guidelines and have learned to more clearly listen and hear my body. I have found that I can occassionally have a measured amount of pasta and it will not send me into a mindless binge. I have also learned that I do enjoy eating more plant based than animal based proteins. I do now know when my eating is being motivated by my emotions rather than true hunger and am able to make a concious choice about whether I chose to do so. I am not so strict about making sure my weighed portions are exact and find that I do not necessarily eat the ‘full’ serving of veggies at each meal. I am listening to my hunger and fullness messages more closely and allowing my portions to vary somewhat day to day. I have come to understand that perfection is an ideal and not something that is acheivable every moment of everyday. For myself, I have come to the conclusion that as with any other ‘recovery’ program, until you can internalize what works for you and let go of what does not, and really do the inner work to heal the relationship with yourself, you cannot grow and be at peace. At some point one must let go of the guilt, shame and judgement of self to find one’s true freedom.

  34. Marlene

    I think what SPT did by making you change your name was horrible and unnecessary! Was she so threatened by your small company and voice? She’s making millions and you cam’t post the the breakdown of a BLE compliant recipe on your own platforms. t’s ludicrous and unnecessary and I lost respect for her and her program.

    • Katie Gates

      Thanks for your comment Marlene, I’m actually grateful that they reached out about it because it was a useful nail in the coffin and the nudge I needed to fully break ties and set out on my own path.

  35. Brett Mentuck

    Thank you for this, Katie. I’m so impressed that you were able to articulate your (my) thoughts so perfectly, AND that you’ve created a new community to support your mindful eating goals! You so totally rock. 🙌🏻 I’m making the transition right now from BLE – for months the program has felt “off”. I’m spending a lot of time lately in gratitude for my awesome, strong size ten body, trying to undo years of feelings about not being good enough. You are a true inspiration to me, and I thank you, from the bottom of my heart. ❤️

    • Katie Gates

      Awww I’m so glad this resonated with you Brett, thank you for sharing. ❤️

  36. Great blog! I see its an updated version of a 2019 blog. I didn’t see it then, but all the things you’ve written are so true about BLE and about how we need to work with our food to nourish our bodies and how our “right sized body” may not be what we originally thought of. Size 4 for example…. I cannot get to that size without feeling restricted in my daily activities and happiness. However, I can look good in my size 8-10 body and feel good about my food choices. I love your recipes (I follow a whole food plant based lifestyle) and I enjoy the variety you offer. Thank you for all you do!!

    • Katie Gates

      Thank you so much Jill, so glad you are letting your body tell you what feels sensible instead of trying to force a size that you struggle to maintain. Yeah this is an update to an article I wrote a while ago, but I have a lot more to say now than I did then. 🙂

  37. Jeannie Greutert

    Hi Katie,
    Thank you for your perspective on BLE. I was in the 3rd boot camp in 2015 and even went on to be a house leader. It was actually a much stricter program that first year. Although I had fantastic weight loss, I left for the same reasons that you left. The shame, guilt, labels and need to be in a “right sized body” got to be too much to bear. In the end it was just like any other diet. I gained all of my weight back and then some! Plus, I got the added bonus of hating myself and my body because I couldn’t stick to the damn plan!
    I have enjoyed cooking from the cook book that

  38. Deb Maccabee

    Bravo Katie! You’ve articulated so beautifully what I’ve held in my mind and heart about my BLE journey. I’ll be forever grateful to you and Annette and the CE community for the last year of profound life and food teachings, love and support and just a whole lot of fun. Who knew my lifelong struggle with food could transform by giving up the struggles and showing up for life in new and transformative ways.
    P.S. My biggest takeaway from BLE was the introduction to Internal Family Systems work.

    • Katie Gates

      So grateful for you Deb, thank you for your commitment to this path and your support. 🥰

  39. Rosana

    Thanks for writing this thoughtful critique. This all makes a lot of sense to me! I started BLE in April 2018, after having gained about 35 pounds after menopause. Most of my adult life I had been at a pretty okay weight, but after menopause, even cutting out processed sugar for a year did almost nothing. BLE was the only thing I found that seemed to make it easy to lose all the weight. I even got down to what I’d weighed in some of my lightest adult years.

    But I always felt a bit out of place in BLE. I didn’t have eating disorders or a history of being overweight, I didn’t eat much junk food or processed food, and it wasn’t till I tried restricting sugar, even before BLE, that I ever really binged on anything. It does seem like restricting can have that effect.

    I also don’t like the cultish aspects of BLE. Of course it’s not an actual cult, as they pointed out in a vlog, but all the sayings and group-think really turn me off. And the idea that food is just fuel and should not be too enjoyable. I think a lot of this comes from the fact that BLE is all about its founder and what works for her. No one else does their videos; she is the face of the company and it’s hard to imagine it even existing without her. Maybe this method works for her, but it doesn’t make sense for a lot of us.

    Overall, I found BLE very useful — to a point. Eventually, especially when I reached maintenance, it was just too hard to keep it going, and I ended up gaining back about 20 pounds. Back on track now, and I’m still doing BLE for the most part but allowing myself some deviations. I do want to be in better shape as I age and to be healthy, and I want to fit into all my clothes. So yes, I do want to lose the weight again. But I’m hoping a slightly different approach will work, and looking forward to more flexibility.

    • Katie Gates

      Thank you for sharing your story Rosana, people who benefit in many ways from BLE but still feel a bit out of place are exactly the people I’m trying to reach with my blog. I’m so glad you found what I wrote helpful, and I trust you will explore some flexibility when it serves you to do so. For now, enjoy the support of BLE and do try to bring as much self-compassion as possible <3

  40. 100% agree with everything on here! I also started a BLE platform (on YouTube) and am now transitioned to living balanced and figuring out how to eat consciously. At one point is “woke up” and realized the shame and fear was not true to what I actually believe about food and people’s abilities to live free of that. Thanks for writing this clear depiction of what I’ve been feeling in my heart as I transition away!

  41. Vicki Dreyer

    Thank you for your BLE perspective and clarifying your pros and cons so explicitly. I joined BLE in February of 2015 and followed the program rigidly, lost 43 pounds by January of 2016 and then hit a plateau for several months. I was a serious member of the community for two and half years and got down to ten pounds above goal weight.
    I was discourage by the plateau and did not seek coaching (my mistake.) I was happy in my size 10 body so put myself on the maintenance plan. I maintained my weight loss for about a year and then started traveling internationally in retirement. I chose to experiment and went off the BLE plan while experiencing foods from other cultures. Once I made that break, I had a difficult time sustaining BLE lines. I was left with a sense of yo yo dieting mentality in other words Reboot/ReZoom which worked for a period of a few months and then it didn’t. I am still a Bright Lifer as I am fearful to let go and jump ship, but after reading your post, I am feeling compelled to let it go!
    I am interested in the basic premise of BLE, but am also interested in exploring intuitive eating in addition. I believe I can take the beat advice from several programs to create what will work for me. I love your recipes and like others here have been following you over the past few years.

  42. Hi, Katie- somehow I hadn’t read this before. I so appreciate Conscious Eating Community. Instead of keeping the lines that served me, I have gone for a more free fo all approach. I appreciated your frame for that as also not conscious which really was a puzzle piece I needed. Thanks for all you and Annette do to make CEC such a supportive eating community.

    • Katie Gates

      Thank you Sarah, I’m glad you found that not conscious framing helpful, that just occurred to me the other day because of something one of our members said. Such a fascinating journey, so glad to have you with me on it!

  43. Thank you for sharing. I have followed your recipes before I took the full BLE plunge. I took me 2 years before I finally committed to the full BLE plan. From the beginning I never followed all of rules. I didn’t have instant, fast weight loss. It took me almost a year to lose 45 lbs, the most I’ve ever lost. I’ve been successful in leaving it in the past, due to the hard and fast abstention from sugar.
    I occasionally enjoy pizza, I try to find an all wheat crust, but it’s not made out of trisciuts. I have had pasta twice in last month, and the thought of edamame, or brown rice pasta doesn’t appeal to me. So I ate the real thing.
    The idea of being a Bright Lifer always sounded like a life sentence, and the more I’ve learned over time, there are some MLM elements of the program.
    Ultimately, I am thankful for the knowledge, I believe for my brain and body abstinence from sugar is the only way. I believe that through mindfulness it could be possible to eat a square of dark chocolate, but for me automaticicity works.
    Katie, thank you for your great recipes, shared with love and humor, and for providing alternatives to eating and thinking about food ❤️

  44. Patricia Mayhew

    Katie, Thanks so much for taking the time and energy to share your journey. I so relate to everything you articulated. I am so grateful for Conscious Eating Community. It has been a beautiful next step after BLE for healing my relationship with food and myself. The group is extremely important to me! I consider the members my family. It has been a significant support for me this past year. I am so grateful for the commitment you and Annette have to this group! Thank you! Thank you! ❤️❤️

    • Katie Gates

      Aww thank you Pat. It has been wonderful to get to know you this past year and I am so grateful for your presence in our community.

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