I lost 8 pounds my first week of this journey, all while stuffing my face with food beyond what I would normally eat. I was never hungry. I didn’t have any cravings. Before I started I listened to the audio book, Bright Line Eating, which explains the science of food and eating. The science wasn’t completely new to me, but I enjoyed listening to it and the author’s personal journey with food and addiction. It’s a good book!
At some point I took the Food Freedom Quiz to determine my susceptibility to food addiction. It turned out that on a scale of 1-10, I scored pretty low, a 3 I think, but the author, Susan, scored off the charts, 10 plus. So, there were some personal stories that I couldn’t relate to at all and was surprised to learn that some people shared that level of food addiction with her. But regardless of where you fall on the scale, if you have weight to lose, this way of doing it really works.
So, what are “Bright Lines”? They are simply lines that you aren’t willing to cross. Like when a smoker becomes a non-smoker, you make an agreement with yourself that you won’t cross the line and light up another cigarette. Because one will never be enough, and one is too many.
There are four Bright Lines in this way of eating. They are:
- Sugar (in all of its forms including fructose, glucose, sucrose, and sugar substitutes like Splenda and Stevia)
- Flour (including whole grain flours, gluten-free flours, any food with flour as an ingredient including pasta)
- Meals (three meals per day, planned in advance, no snacking in between)
- Quantities (all food weighed precisely, measured exactly, and tracked in a food journal)
There’s a lot of science in the book that explains why not crossing these Bright Lines will work. So what can you eat? A lot of food! Mostly vegetables!
Breakfast includes a protein, a grain, and a fruit. Starchy vegetables like potatoes are considered grains and should only be consumed at breakfast. Lunch consists of a protein, 6 oz of vegetables, a fat and a fruit. For dinner you get to have a protein, 6 oz of vegetables, 8 oz of salad, and a fat. I would often mix and match my vegetables, swapping them so I could have a salad for lunch and cooked vegetables for supper. It doesn’t really matter as long as you eat 20 oz of non-starchy vegetables every day.
A typical breakfast for me consisted of 1 oz rolled oats (measured dry), cooked with boiling water in the microwave with some cinnamon and nutmeg mixed in, then I would top it with 4 oz of unsweetened soy milk, half an ounce of walnuts and 0.5 an ounce of ground flax (which is a lot!) for the protein part of the meal and then chop up a whole banana and add some blueberries (so the whole fruit portion equals 6 oz). I ate this pretty much every morning except for the odd day when I made a tofu scramble and had some breakfast potatoes. I really enjoy oatmeal, but I prefer the steel cut kind cooked very dry, so it’s almost like having a muffin. Unfortunately 1 oz of steel cut oats is not even a whole tablespoon full. With instant oats or rolled oats I could enjoy about a quarter cup. For me, even a quarter cup is a pretty small portion of oats, but 6 oz is a lot of fruit, plus all that flax, nuts, and milk, made it so breakfast filled me up.
Typically I would move the salad from dinner to lunch, adding the lunch vegetable serving to dinner. Greens do not weigh very much, so I chopped bell peppers, cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, onions and any other vegetables I had on hand to make a very satisfying big salad base and then I’d top it with 6 oz of beans, 6 oz of mixed fresh fruit like pear, apple, grapes, or whatever I had on hand, and half an ounce of nuts, usually pecans or walnuts but sometimes pine nuts or almonds. For dressing I would just use balsamic vinegar, no oil. And I’d often add some spices like cumin, turmeric, cayenne, paprika, etc. Make no mistake, these types of huge salads take forever to chew and digest and are very satisfying.
For supper I would often have 12 oz of mixed stir fried vegetables or spaghetti squash with my own version of a pasta sauce made of crushed tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, and bell peppers. I’d add 4 oz of tofu or 6 oz of lentils for protein and then include half an ounce of tahini for fat. For condiments I used sriracha, nutritional yeast, salsa, and mustard. Most days I wouldn’t even be hungry when it was time to eat supper. I would still be full from lunch. But I couldn’t wait too late to eat supper because I go to bed early and having that much food in my belly at bedtime did not make for a very good sleep.
Prepping food for the workweek on the weekend helps make meals come together more quickly and easily.
And of course, you don’t have to be plant-based to follow this diet. All meat, dairy, and eggs are on the menu. In 2 weeks of eating this way, I lost 13.6 pounds. It’s very easy to do. But I didn’t stick with it. The third week I transitioned back to a way of eating I want to follow for the rest of my life, but that’s for another post. If you have weight to lose and if you need a lot of structure, then you cant go wrong with Bright Line Eating. The science makes sense and it works.