For as long as Laura Burnett could remember, her weight had caused her heartache. As a 151-pound kid in middle school, she’d been put on a scale at a playground and told she was too heavy for the climbing nets and rope swings; she’d sat alone, burning with anguish — a pattern that repeated over and over in her life. Sure, she tried diets, but she could only resist the urge to comfort herself with cookies and chips for so long.
“You can’t give up now,” she told herself, grabbing her laptop and pulling up Facebook again. She couldn’t resist looking at the photos one more time. As she scrolled through her feed to find them, a post stopped her cold. She knew her pal Kelsey was on a new diet but — wow. She’d lost 70 pounds and looked fabulous. Laura was transfixed. Maybe it was a sign. “Maybe it could work for me too,” she thought.
At lunch a few days later, Kelsey explained, “The plan has four main rules — no sugar, no flour, no snacks, and only measured portions of healthy food. You’re eating in a way that releases your brain from food addiction, so the constant cravings go away.” Laura furrowed her brow. “Am I addicted to food?” she wondered. To find out, Kelsey suggested reading Bright Line Eating ($18.87, Amazon) by Susan Peirce Thompson, PhD.
In it, Thompson shared science proving that sugar and flour have addictive properties for everyone — and can trigger insatiable hunger and overpowering cravings for some. “That’s me,” Laura thought. “Once I get a taste of sugar and flour, I can’t stop.”
But could she give them up? She decided to try. Using simple meal suggestions from Kelsey, Laura began filling up on rice cakes and nut butter, eggs, salad, salmon, and sautéed spinach. It was doable, and she felt a quick surge of optimism — until the headaches and low energy hit. Feverish by day nine, she took a sick day. “I might have the flu,” she warned Joe. But within 24 hours, she felt better. She had been detoxing.
Just as Thompson promised, she now felt a sense of elation as the plan worked magic on her brain. Planning and prepping her meals became effortless and automatic. She barely thought about food at all. She’d jot down a plan the night before, measure portions, and dig in — all while dropping up to six pounds a week!
Four months in, Laura celebrated her 50th birthday 53 pounds lighter. There were challenges, of course. “Sometimes I felt too tired to measure or cook. Other times, I missed being able to cram down feelings with food,” she admits. Luckily, Bright Line urges folks to seek support from others.
Laura found that Joe and their blended family — six kids ages 15 to 24 — are great with pep talks. She also leaned on Kelsey, friends met in an online group and relatives who’d been inspired to try Bright Line.
Laura even began reaching out to other folks who might need advice or encouragement. “I discovered that connecting with people fulfills me more than food ever did.” By the 10-month mark, Laura — who gradually added physical activity to her routine — was down 100 pounds.
A short while later, she hit her goal weight of 143 pounds. She increased her food intake and has been maintaining ever since. “My weight doesn’t decide things for me anymore, so I’ve been rediscovering myself. Do I want to ride roller coasters or scuba dive? Now that everything fits, what is my style? I started crying in DSW when I realized I can finally zip knee-high boots over my calves. And they look great!” says the California-based insurance broker.
She and Joe are also fostering puppies. “I didn’t have the energy for it when I was heavy. Now it brings me so much joy. We’ve saved more than 70 lives.” She’s saved her own life too. “It’s not just that I’ll live longer but that I’ll live so much better. I’m not hostage to my cravings anymore. I feel free.”
How Bright Line Eating Helps With Weight Loss
According to Dr. Peirce Thompson, Bright Line eating neutralizes brain signals that prompt overeating. “Eliminating sugar and flour is key because they’re shown to damage the brain’s pleasure center,” she says. Skipping them lets our brains heal, so we experience relief from cravings and constant thoughts of food.
Bright Line also limits food choices, preventing “brain fatigue” that triggers unhealthy eating. Each day, Bright Liners get three servings of protein, 20 ounces of vegetables, two servings of fruit, two servings of fat, and one serving of healthy starch. The overall impact is powerful, with folks dropping up to 30 pounds in 14 days.
Bright Line Eating Sample Day
Breakfast: 2 oz. dry steel-cut oats prepared with 4 oz. milk and topped with 2 oz. flaxseeds, 1 oz. nuts, and 6 oz. mixed berries.
Lunch: 4 oz. chicken breast and 6 oz. veggies stir-fried with 1⁄2 oz. oil and low-sodium soy sauce to taste.
Dinner: 4 oz. lean steak seasoned with spice rub, 10 oz. veggies roasted with 1⁄2 oz. olive oil and herbs, 4 oz. corn.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.