Bright Line Is Its Own Thing

Bright Line Eating (BLE) is a program developed by addict in recovery Susan Peirce Thompson. Here is a very short summary:

The core principles of BLE are Bright Lines — clear, unambiguous boundaries we don’t cross just like a non-smoker doesn’t smoke, no matter what. The four Bright Lines are: Sugar, Flour, Meals, and Quantities.

We adopt an addiction model, because for many people, eating even a small amount of an addictive food doesn’t make the craving go away — it makes it worse.

The Bright Lines concerning sugar and flour are simple: Leave them strictly alone, period. Doubters point out that in the old days, people ate plenty of bread without becoming obese or addicted.

But overall, they ate less of it. So, according to these theories, their brains’ dopamine receptors and leptin receptors were not constantly bombarded and beaten into submission. They did not lose sensitivity or became too sensitive, or suffer any other malfunction at the hands of the chemicals that are supposed to guide them.

The puzzle

On first learning about BLE, the casual reader is likely to encounter confusion. Flour is not a food, but a format that many foodstuffs can be made into, by being ground into powder. To make an analogy, “milk” applies to many different substances besides cow juice. We have coconut milk, almond milk, soy milk, etc. All liquid, but made from different stuff.

Likewise, flour can be produced from numerous crops, including sorghum, amaranth, arrowroot, teff, brown rice, oats, chickpeas, tapioca, cassava, and many more. So the question arises: Can food value generalizations be made about liquid, or about flour? How can there be blanket condemnation of a format? This is the mystery referred to in the previous post.

More confusion

While researching BLE via its various affiliate pages, the casual reader finds sample meals and recipes recommending grain for one, two, or even all of the day’s three meals. They mention such products as Shredded Wheat, and Triscuits, as well as oatmeal and Ezekiel bread, which is made from sprouted grain. BLE’s Facebook page recently featured a recipe for a “wheat berry bowl breakfast.” So, obviously, wheat is not seen as a culprit, nor are other grains.

But isn’t wheat a popular obesity villain of the moment? The accusations made against wheat are the reason for the existence of all those alternative flours, none of which contain gluten. Gluten is the component of wheat that hurts people with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity, but is generally assumed to be okay for anyone else.

So, apparently, BLE is not against gluten, or wheat, or any other grains either with or without gluten. And yet, flour, which is made from those very grains, is absolutely forbidden. A direct quote is, “We don’t eat any flour here, not even gluten-free flour.” What is going on?

Mystery solved

The answer finally becomes clear in a video recorded by Thompson, explaining how all flours are equal — and equally bad. The issue is not gluten, about which she claims to be “agnostic.” The issue is not what variety of grain is used. Counter-intuitively, the problem is exactly and only the format:

When you grind any plant into a powder, it allows the glucose or fructose to enter the bloodstream too quickly, and keeps our dopamine receptors in “party” mode… Food addicts need to calm down our response to sugar; also our leptin receptors are out of whack and need less glucose to regain sensitivity to leptin.

Grinding disrupts the grain’s fiber lattice and makes its contents too accessible. This is too much refining, like the difference between coca leaves chewed by starving field workers, and highly purified cocaine prized by addicts. Flour and whole grains affect the body and brain in entirely different ways, the flour being absorbed too fast by the intestine.

Thompson asks her listeners to imagine a big, solid block of ice sitting on a hot pavement, and the contents of a bag of crushed ice spilled out beside. The tiny ice cubes will melt almost immediately, while part of the big ice hunk might survive into the next day.

On another page, Thompson remarks that the first solid food babies are given is rice flour. If this rapid absorption danger is for real, no wonder so many infants are overweight!

Many experts insist that wheat is a problem food, a cause of unhealthy weight gain, and possibly even addictive. But the big takeaway here is that Bright Line Eating should not be lumped in with them. BLE is talking about a whole different thing. It’s not anti-wheat, it’s not anti-grain (with or without gluten.) BLE is specifically and explicitly against all flour.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “What is Bright Line Eating?,”
Source: “Bright Line Eating: Summary & Review,”
Source: “What Does “Gluten Free” Really Mean?,”, 09/14/16
Source: “What happened to flour?,”, 01/10/18
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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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