Drawing the Bright Line

This post describes the quest for an answer to a mystery that took quite a bit of poking around to solve. The puzzle arose from looking into a program called Bright Line Eating, created by Susan Peirce Thompson. First, her story.

Despite being an active child, Susan grew into an overweight teen, dropped out of high school, and got involved with hard drugs — as in, crack cocaine — so she knows what intoxication and addiction are all about. At age 20, she entered a 12-step program and has been clean-and-sober ever since. Community college led to university, and to honors including a summa cum laude designation and Phi Beta Kappa membership, and ultimately to a doctorate.

But, despite participating for years in a food-related 12-step program, she was binge eating, on antidepressant meds, in therapy, and creeping up on officially obese. A friend introduced her to a different 12-step program for food addicts, and Susan lost almost 60 pounds.

As a tenured professor, for years she taught a course on the psychology of eating. Further life experiences and constant pursuit of academic knowledge combined to eventually bring the program into the world. The literature says,

Bright Line Eating is grounded in cutting edge psychology and neuroscience… BLE was designed by a psychology professor with a Ph.D. in Brain and Cognitive Sciences, so motivation and structure are built into the very fabric of the program.

Bright Line Eating works with the brain in three ways: by building in habits to take the load off of willpower, by bringing leptin back on board, and by replenishing dopamine to eliminate cravings.

Now, the BLE TEAM comprises more than 20 people, including an attorney who used to be obese to the point of immobility. The online Boot Camp participants have included people from more than 60 countries, ranging in age from teens to octogenarians. It claims to be the world’s most effective weight loss solution, and the answer to addictive eating:

… And finally, the Bright Lines of sugar and flour rewire and heal the addictive centers of the brain so you can live free of those relentless cravings that propel you to eat foods you know aren’t good for you and sabotage your weight-loss efforts.

The website offers a Susceptibility Scale quiz, and notes that the program is “especially designed for people who are in the mid-to-high range of the Susceptibility Scale.” They are the ones most at risk from their own self-sabotaging brains.

One of the slogans is, “In Bright Line Eating, you don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be unstoppable”— which actually could be true of just about any human endeavor, which makes it a good motto.

A review of Thompson’s book mentions the major BLE tenets: sugar and flour should be regarded as drugs; they are addictive and must be totally shunned. They both lead not only to obesity, but to diabetes and mood disorders like depression and anxiety. Meal portions are weighed via digital scale, and until the eating program becomes second nature, exercise is not advised.

Another unimpeachable principle, or “bright line,” is that where addiction is concerned, there is no such thing as moderation. No means no. Sugar and flour both impair the dopamine receptors, but they will eventually readjust, at which point vegetables will taste good, and cravings for sugar and flour will abate.

Learning to read packaged food ingredients is important, because forbidden substances masquerade under so many different names. One interesting feature is the idea of “committing” to the next day’s food, deciding what will be eaten and refusing to deviate from the plan.

(To be continued…)

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Susan’s Story,” BrightLineEating.com
Source: “What is Bright Line Eating?,”BrightLineEating.com
Source: “Bright Line Eating: Summary & Review,” ThePowerMoves.com
Photo on Foter.com

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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