Bright Line Eating™ is a system grounded in external, rather than internal regulation of food consumption.
There are plenty of programs out there that will say that you should listen to your body and trust what it’s telling you about what to eat and how much.
Bright Line Eating™ isn’t one of them.
My body tells me to eat ice cream.
Lots of it.
My body also tells me to overeat, almost every time I put the fork to my mouth.
Even when my belly is saying “I think I might be full,” my brain and mouth say, “I need more!”
And thus begins the internal war.
Unless, of course, I’ve pre-established an external referee to be the tie-breaking vote.
I’ve been doing Bright Line Eating™ for well over a decade, and even now, I can sit down to a right-sized meal, eat the whole thing, and think, “I could easily eat another.” And maybe yet another.
I have tried to go the way of intuitive eating, or as Ellyn Satter calls it, Competent Eating. I have tried to breathe deeply before each meal, eat every morsel slowly and mindfully, and let my body decide what and how much I should eat.
I have really, really tried it.
In fact, a little over three years ago, I was so fully Happy, Thin, and Free™, and I felt so incredibly well and balanced, that I decided to leave Bright Line Eating™ altogether and give Ellyn Satter’s Competent Eating model a real try. Ellyn Satter has crafted a model for feeding kids that, as a mother of three young girls, has absolutely saved my hide. I just love it. It’s called the Division of Responsibility, and it totally works.
So I started to think that maybe her method of adult eating would work for me, too.
I had reached a point in my life where I couldn’t fathom bingeing again. I’d been doing Bright Line Eating™ for nearly nine years, and had been following my food plan without a single deviation for nearly six years. My life was smooth sailing. The internal issues that had led me to overeat had long-since been worked through. My brain had been re-wired for eating the right foods in the right amounts and sane eating had become the new normal for me.
Surely, I must be cured.
I saw how I was feeding my daughters, and it seemed so balanced. So free-flowing. I wanted to be eating what they were eating, together, as a family. I didn’t want to keep doing this Bright Line Eating™ thing if it wasn’t necessary.
So I decided to try to become a Competent Eater.
I didn’t take the transition lightly.
I hired a life coach to help me plan my exit from Bright Line Eating™. I even found a Competent Eating specialist in my local area, a woman who had been personally trained by Ellyn Satter, and I hired her, too.
She came to my office one sunny day for our first lesson. She brought with her a box of Triscuits, and she walked me through a mindful eating lesson where it took me nearly fifteen minutes to eat one little Triscuit cracker. First I smelled it. Then I nibbled a corner. I rolled that little morsel around on my tongue and really decided if I liked it. I used all my senses.
It was kind of fun.
The next day I used that mindful eating exercise to eat my lunch.
It took over an hour.
By the end of it, I had decided I didn’t actually like baby carrots. They were too fibrous, almost like cardboard. I didn’t like almonds either. Too mealy and dry. But I liked pineapple.
I only ate half my lunch that day.
I took that as a huge “win” for Competent Eating. I could do this! My body WOULD give me signals about what it wanted! I COULD find my “stopping place” and eat the right amount of food and no more!
A few days later, I was mindfully eating two boxes of cookies.
I liked those.
Thus started one of the most illuminating lessons of my whole life.
The happiness, peace, and overflowing well-being I enjoy by virtue of doing Bright Line Eating™ is only mine on a One Day at a Time basis, so long as I keep doing all the things Bright Line Eating™ teaches me to do.
I cannot do Bright Line Eating™ for a stretch of time and then walk way and keep everything I’ve gained.
The gifts aren’t mine.
I don’t own them.
They’re on loan.
It may be a long-term loan, but it’s a loan nonetheless.
I think there are two main hurdles to being successful with Bright Line Eating™.
The first is to become willing to do it in the first place.
The second is to stay willing to keep doing it, one day at a time.
It’s so tempting to decide I’m cured and walk away from the medicine that’s keeping me healthy.
I don’t deny anyone their research.
You want to test it? Safe travels.
I’m glad I did my research.
And, for today, I know that Bright Line Eating™ is my path.
When I use these four simple Bright Lines to define my eating: no sugar, no flour, eating meals only, and bounding the quantities, and then I add a handful of tools and daily practices to support me in being successful with those Bright Lines, my whole life just WORKS.
I get to live Happy, Thin, and Free™.
And, just for today, that’s good enough for me.
P.S. –That Competent Eating specialist I hired gave me a battery of tests before we started working together, when I was in my last days of doing Bright Line Eating™ and was about to try to transition over to the Competent eating method. When I asked for my results, she stammered and hedged. She was reluctant to show them to me. According to the results of those tests, by doing Bright Line Eating™, I was a Competent Eater already.
With Bright Line Eating™, I already felt good about my food and my eating, enjoyed a variety of foods, trusted myself to eat the right amount for me, and made time to eat at regular intervals.
I guess for some of us, the only path to truly healthy, competent eating, is to rely on Bright Lines to get us there.