Welcome to our digitally remastered and updated series on Bright Line Eating. This is a super extreme diet cult which cherry picks neuroscience to convince people that they are ‘food addicts’, selling one of the world’s most restrictive (and expensive) diet regimes to keep people hooked on the dream of achieving ‘goal weight’. Bright Line Eating is the lucrative brainchild of neuroscientist Susan Peirce Thompson, a charismatic saleswoman who holds nothing back when it comes to the hard sell. In Part 1 I ask who IS Susan Peirce Thompson – a food addict who has finally found the answer to her addictions, or someone who is still desperately stuck in her eating disorder? DO NOT MISS this story, it’s a ripper!

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Show Transcript

Louise Adams 0:12 Welcome to all fired up. I’m Louise your host and this is the podcast where we talk all things anti diet. Has diet culture got you in a fit of rage is the injustice of the beauty ideal getting your knickers in a twist? Does Fitspo make you want to spit tspo ? Are you ready to hurl if you hear one more weight loss tip? Are you ready to be mad, loud and proud? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s get all fired up. Today I am doing an all fired up first, bringing you a digitally remastered and updated series on one of our most popular topics. The cult like World of bright line eating, and its mysterious guru, neuroscientist Susan Peirce Thompson. If you love us here on all fired up, please help us spread the word by going to wherever you get your podcasts and leave us a fiery five star rating and review so we can get the word out even more. And of course, if you’re not yet subscribed to all fired up, make sure you do so you don’t miss a single exquisite rant, especially for the next few weeks. I’m downloading the rage every week now so you don’t want to miss out. Okay, let’s kick off with some free stuff. I’m so excited to announce that I have a brand new version of my free ebook. Everything you’ve been told about weight loss is bullshit by me and the wonderful anti diet dietitian and last week’s guest, Dr. Fiona Willer. In the ebook, we are busting open the top 10 myths that are floating around diet culture, about the relationship between weight and health. It has been completely updated. And now it includes mythbusting about weight loss drugs, which is something I have wanted to add to the ebook for just ages. It feels so good to release it. So please go and download it, read it and share it widely with everyone in your life. Friends, family members, medical and health professionals, just anyone you can find, head to the website untrapped.com.au and it will pop up and you can download it or you can go to Insta untracked underscore au and click on the link in the bio Knowledge is power my friends go get it. The all fired up podcast is brought to you by the brand new Untrapped Academy, a wonderful oasis of anti diet information skills training and support. This month in the academy. I’m so excited to be talking about binge eating. And we’re welcoming our expert speaker Amy Pershing, who co wrote the book binge eating disorder, the journey to recovery and beyond. It’s going to be so informative, and especially given the subject of this week’s podcast extremely relevant. So join us for this really wonderful series if you want to be part of it. Your first month is just one Aussie dollar. So seriously, what have you got to lose? Go to untrapped.com.au and check us out. I hope to see you there. Alright, let’s get on with today’s show. So you’re on the all fired up podcast, I used to run the annual crappy Awards, where listeners would send in nominations for what they believe to be the most irritating or outrageous example of diet culture bullshit for that year. One of our nominations at Christmas time in 2019 came from our listener, Martina Zangger, who describe to us an extreme diet program. And what sounded like a food addiction cult called bright line eating from neuroscientist Susan Peirce Thompson. The whole thing sounded quite creepy and a little dangerous. So I did a hugely deep dive and ended up creating a two part podcast, which has seriously turned out to be one of our most popular ever, which is really amazing. And that came out in 2020. But the technology demons seem to have literally eaten up the audio for the first part of the bright line eating podcast. And I’ve been meaning to fix it for such a long time. So I’m very happy to be finally re releasing this important episode. And what I’m going to actually release is now an astonishing four part series, because I’m really paying attention to this new effort to provide you shorter, snappier episodes, so it’s going to be divided into four parts. Today we’re going to hear from Martina and her nomination in the original crappies for the bright line eating program. And then the rest of today’s program will be me talking a bit of an overview of what brightline eating is what it’s all about. Then next week, episode two, we’re going to hear from neuroscientist Dr. Sandra Aamodt which is just an absolute must listen, if you’ve ever wondered if this food addiction stuff has any merit. And of course, today’s episode, you’re gonna hear me talking about speaking to Sandra in just a little bit in just a second. But that of course actually means next week, as I have chopped up the episode to help it digest our third episode. So the week after next will be an overview of the so called research on bright line eating plus an interview with Martina where she goes into very personal depth about what happened to her in this bright line eating program. We’re also going to overview the astonishing amount of money Susan is making from this evil empire. And finally, in part four of this series, I’m going to be bringing you a brand new episode on bright line eating just to update you, because Susan has written a brand new book on bright line eating called rezoom. And in it she’s hitting back at her critics. So this one, of course will be a must listen. So we have a lot of really interesting stuff coming up over the next few weeks. But I want to really give a huge, enormous blazing red flag warning. This entire series is quite dark, it describes very extreme dieting practices. And we really go into the depths of eating disorders here as well. So please take care of yourself. And if you don’t think that information like this is going to be helpful for you or put you at risk. I don’t want you to do that at all look after yourself. But if you are kind of fascinated because it is a really incredible story, I guess strap yourself in. Let’s go we’re gonna go and meet Martina Speaker 2 6:51 I’m Martina Zangger, and I’m 58 years old. I’m a lecturer at University of Newcastle in health behavior sciences. And I’m very, very pissed off. And I’m sending this to join the crappy Awards, which I think is such a good idea. So the rant I’ve wanted to have is about a diet called bright line eating. It is run by a woman Susan Peirce Thompson who has almost become a guru. And she has 10s of 1000s of followers, mostly women in there, sort of just pre and post menopausal years. Her program is the eight week boot camp and it costs 900 American dollars, which is probably about 13 or 1400 Australian dollars. The diet is based on no sugar, no flour, all your meals are measured, and you eat nothing in between meals, you get three meals a day, tiny meal. And of course, you lose a lot of weight while you’re honest. But you also become extremely hangry crazy. And when I was on it, I developed orthorexia and nearly became anorexic, which makes me so so angry, because I paid a lot of money to this stupid woman, Susan Peirce Thompson, who is neuro psychologist and she was no better. So she says that we are addicted that flour and sugar are addictive. So you can’t have anything with any flour in it. So no bread, no pasta, no Tim Tams no cake, or any combination of flour and sugar. When I was on it, I was very thin. And I was so fucking obsessed with every bite of food that passed my lips. It actually made me a not very nice person. I felt superior to other people. And it was a huge group that huge following that bright line eating had and we all supported each other and in thinking that we were so special and that we had found the answer. After two years, I could no longer do that diet, thank goodness. And within a very short time, probably five months, I regained all the weight I lost, which was extremely difficult. It’s quite disheartening when you you think you found the answer and then the worst happens, which is you regain all your weight. However, I’m now two weeks out of that diet at two years sorry, and I feel so much happier and I do it except my larger body, and I enjoy all foods, I enjoy sharing foods with my friends and family. And I’m so angry with Susan Peirce Thompson. And that stupid bright line eating movement. It’s actually incredibly irresponsible and she have worked out, she must be making about 3 million American dollars per year with all of her program. She’s just a fucking bitch, I’m sorry to say. So that’s my rant, I’m sending everyone love, I hope they can walk away from diet culture and, and really embrace their natural bodies. Just like I’m embracing my natural body. That ch ran over. Thank you, Louise. Louise Adams 10:51 I mean, thank you so much for submitting that rent Martina. And I’m just still simmering with rage. And whenever I hear something from a listener or from a client, just the impact of these kinds of things is it’s just absolutely devastating to people’s lives. And I’m just really annoyed about this. So I just couldn’t shake Martina’s story, this, she lost two years of her life, and came so close to I mean, it really does sound like an eating disorder was gnawing away at her and the recovery, you know, to come back and just this story is really important and needs to be heard. And we need to talk about what is actually happening. And how is it possible that these kinds of things are being sold at such an enormous profit for people like Susan Peirce Thompson. So, look, in a nutshell, after I heard Martina’s story, I have been deep, knee deep neck deep in Susan Peirce Thompson and the bright lines ating. Wow, I don’t even know what to call it. It’s more than a diet this one. This is almost like a cult. Because, as you’ll hear about, you know, in the next two episodes, there’s a variety of techniques that have been used by this person to really sell several problematic ideas, and essentially encourage eating disordered behavior, in an apparent attempt to free yourself from disordered behavior, which is mind fuckery of the next level. So here I’ve been I’ve been stuck deep in the bright line eating world. For Gosh, far too long. I’ve been reading up are all about it. I’ve read her book. And I have read her research. And I have researched her as a human, as well, as a professional. I’ve talked to other people. And here I am, I am so ready to dive into this. So thank you for joining me, pour yourself a drink, strap yourself in. So what we’re going to do is a two part series. So we’re going to start today. So today’s is really talking about bright line eating about what it’s all about more about Susan Peirce Thompson, who is the author of the bright line eating book, and the one that runs the company and the boot camps, we’re going to talk about her story, we’re going to talk about her book, we’re going to more broadly talk about the topic of neuroscience as it applies to body weight, and also dive into food addiction models. So I’m going to take you through the diet book, bright line eating, and all of these claims that she’s making regarding neuroscience and food addiction. I really, really need to preface this episode and the next one, but particularly today’s episode, because trigger warning content warning, we are talking a lot about numbers and wait. So if that is particularly triggering for you, maybe this is not the one to listen to. I do avoid it wherever I can. But there are some numbers that pop up. And I always please know, dear listeners that when I talk numbers when I talk Wait, I am using this as an example of the harm that diet culture can reach, as opposed to buying into any anything that we’re talking about here. I’m simply using this to demonstrate the inaccuracies and harm. Okay, so today’s episode also includes me speaking with a neuroscientist called Dr. Sandra Aamodt, and she’s going to talk to us about where she sits on all this food addiction idea and also more about how the brain regulates our body weight. So really quite fascinating. And then in our next episode, so not today, but the next episode, we’re gonna go back and hear more from Martina who we just heard about from the crappies and how, what her experience was like this ordeal With the bright line eating community, such an intense and culty kind of program. And then after we talked to Martina, I’m going to round out this deep dive with a closer look at the incredible amount of money that bright line eating has made all on this premise of being parently deeply grounded in science and research. And I’m going to take a close look at the research that she’s presenting, and show you all just how dodgy it is. So it’s a pretty, it’s a rollicking ride this next two episodes, and I really hope you enjoy it, and get a lot out of it. Because you know, there’s we’ve got to protect ourselves in diet culture from this kind of stuff. Okay. So the book, I have read the whole book, I have read this book called bright line eating the science of living happy, thin and free by Susan Peirce Thompson. And this was written in 2017. And to begin with, look, Sara, at Susan is a really good storyteller. And certainly she has a compelling personal story of how she came to this bright line eating way of living. So and I think that’s that’s the thing with so many of these diet gurus, isn’t it, that they’re quite compelling. And they’re quite charismatic and good writers. So I definitely noticed that straightaway. So who is this woman? And what is all of this about? Well, Susan is from California. She grew up in California and her parents were apparently reformed hippies. She grew up in a house, which sounded I’m doing air quotes, super healthy. So her mother, who was always thin, was always dieting. Isn’t that interesting? And she recounts how, when she was just 10 years old, her and her mom were doing the Pritikin diet. And this was not because they wanted to lose weight. She says neither of us had weight to lose, it was just about being maximally healthy. This is a 10 year old kid, Susan paints a picture of herself in the book, as a kid who was always overly interested in food, a kid who was always addicted or compelled to compulsively eat food. But when I read the book, what I hear is a child, who basically grew up in a healthy food desert. It’s a quite a restrictive household, not a lot of variety of foods around, certainly no processed foods around. And this kid naturally became quite obsessed with food, because of this early restriction. And we know that from lots of research in this area, that kids who do grew up grew up in households where there’s not a lot of variety of food, or where so called, bad food is banned. So particularly healthy households, those kids are quite likely to grow up as binge eating adults. And we also know that kids who died early on, have a higher rate of developing eating disorders as they get older. We also know that there is a genetic involvement with eating disorders. And when I was listening to some of the book, I was wondering about Susan’s mother, and well, whether or not she might have suffered with her own eating issues, if not an eating disorder, and that might have impacted on Susan’s way of looking at everything. One thing that really stuck out for me hearing Susan’s story was vivid descriptions of when she was little, and how she felt when she was restricting her food. So she describes feeling in saying empowered or great or in control. And that’s quite a hallmark for people who might develop an eating disorder. Because a lot of us, for a lot of us going on a diet is pretty miserable. We feel pretty crappy. But sometimes for people who have quite a restrictive type of eating disorder, way of thinking that the act of going on a diet is actually experienced as quite a lating. People feel really superior and really great. And they describe stuff like I feel empowered, I feel in control. And it’s almost like people get hooked on the feeling of not eating, which is quite different to other people without a restrictive eating disorder who feel just generally dreadful when they don’t eat. Very, very disturbing description of her at age 1212 where she apparently went off sugar and she says I felt great. I felt totally empowered. So I just I felt for that little girl. But alongside all of these descriptions of how wonderful empowering and great restriction felt, she also completely relates how she She would hide food, she would sneak food from a very young age. And these behaviors she interprets as evidence of her food addiction, which I interpret as a pretty normal response to not just growing up in a bit of a food desert, but also having all this self imposed restriction. When we restrict, we want stuff and we are much more likely to binge and, and hide and feel ashamed about food. By the time Susan was 15, she describes herself herself as overweight. She said she was carrying weight around her middle and she then compared herself to her thin mum, and she says she felt enormous coursing. Again, she unquestioningly accepts that something was wrong with her body at the age of 15. My non diet lens would say at 15, your body is changing, and lots of kids are allowed. And it’s perfectly normal to gain weight. As you grow. Maybe it was just growth. But look, she continued dieting, and then she stumbled into drugs. So from the age of 14 until she was 20, Susan really was hooked on a lot of drugs, and I’m talking acid, ecstasy, meth crack, like it really got quite serious. And, you know, of course, she talks about the impact on her weight when you’re on drugs like that you do reduce your weight. And since it’s a harrowing story, it’s pretty terrible to think of someone. It’s a long time, isn’t it six years, your whole adolescence to be hooked on such terrible drugs. When Susan was 20, she hit rock bottom, and then found herself at a 12 step program. So and from that time on, she has been what she says clean and sober. So she kicked the drug habit, thanks to the 12 step programs. So this is a woman who’s really found recovery from addiction, drug and alcohol addiction, through the 12 step models, like Alcoholics Anonymous Narcotics Anonymous. And that’s an amazing story, because it is not easy to to turn your life around like that. But she did it in the book that that victory wasn’t it didn’t ring her pace, because of course her her weight increased. And she said she felt terrible about her weight. And she was still of course perceiving herself as a food addict. And then, understandably, she started going to 12 Step programs for over eating. So we look I encourage you guys, if you haven’t listened to Episode 30 of all fired up, I did a podcast back in 2018. With Halina Brooke about Overeaters Anonymous. Check it out. And looks like Susan did stuff like that for years and years and years, did not reduce her weight. So she’s obviously going to these 12 Step programs in an effort to lose weight. She’s not perceiving herself as someone who has issues with her relationship with food. She’s perceiving herself as someone who has weight to lose and is addicted to food. At some point in the book, she describes that she was diagnosed with binge eating disorder, and that she was prescribed an antidepressant. But she didn’t ever get an eating disorder treatment or therapy for her eating disorder. She also describes that she became blaming, but she doesn’t give me any details about that. So we now know that Susan is someone who has suffered from binge eating disorder and bulimia. But that’s not the focus of this book by any means the focus is all on her weight. She said she became in her terms obese, in spite of her eating disorder over limit eating disorder, which broke my heart to read. And then in 2003, she joined a more extreme version of the 12 step programs. I think that she’s referring to food Addicts Anonymous, or f A, although she doesn’t specifically name the group in the book. She does talk about joining a more extreme movement within the 12 step community for food addiction. If I think we touched on it when we were talking about the Overeaters Anonymous episode, so they’re like all of the other 12 Step programs in the day free support groups to help people who perceive themselves to be addicted to food. But in F a, there’s some really strict rules so you are not allowed to eat any sugar or any flour. You’re only allowed to eat three meals a day. and absolutely no other food, you have to commit your meal plan each night to embody or mentor a sponsor in the program. So you have to plan what you’re eating the night before. And I mean exactly what you’re going to eat the night before. And then you have to wait out each meal according to a strict meal plan. So I’m talking weighing food on scales, to the ounce, to the exact ounce. And that is, that is exactly what if a is all about pretty intense and extreme. And they do a lot of mentorship and Buddy ship to, to kind of, I guess they’d say support each other, I might say police each other to not eat. So it’s a real white knuckling restriction program. In the books, Susan talks about in FA she finally lost weight. So she was pretty happy about that. So again, there’s this whole idea of like curing the eating disorder, or disordered behavior with food by weight loss, then there was some doubts that popped up for her. Because it apparently consumed a lot of her time, she said she was devoting more than 20 hours a week to either talking to her groups about food or doing her meal planning or helping other people. So it just sounds like it sucked most of her life. She mentioned that her husband considered leaving her and also says that she was a bit annoyed because the program didn’t have a lot of science around it in terms of food rules. So she decided to that she knew because she was a neuroscientist by now. So she had gone to university, and she had studied cognitive science, and worked her way through various degrees until she got to PhD level. So she decided that she was going to write a book, and then start the bootcamp the online program, because she sort of thought to herself, well, I know a lot about the brain. I also know a lot about the FHA program. And I think she’s kind of combined the two, her belief very much is that moderation when it comes to eating doesn’t work, in terms of reducing weight, and that what she calls bright lines, which is really, what she means by bright lines is like, really fucking strict rules, what I might call diet prison, but she calls it bright lines and freedom. So she says freedom in maximum security living, which is interesting. Susan describes that she wrote an email newsletter just talking about her approach, that the news that I got 200,000 subscribers very quickly, that she started offering online boot camps to people again, that grew very quickly. Then she hired this team, and it’s become a company. And she started what she calls a research program, which we’ll talk about a bit later. And then she obviously published her book in 2017. So that’s a little bit about her and her background. And as I said, so her diet essentially is the same as what is presented in food Addicts Anonymous, except FA is free. And her bright line eating solution is a for profit company, using the diet stuff from the FA program. So I guess now that she’s making a lot of money from this program, her husband’s now happy to stay with her because apparently he’s now the CFO of bright line at her eight week online boot camps, as we heard, really expensive. And those are just the beginning of a whole range of add ons in the bright line eating community which everything every level of support that you want, or should do, you have to pay for. Susan justifies the charging people this much money for the program by saying that it’s an online community, that it’s not just the FAA stuff, it gets combined with neuroscience. And she also talks about how her community is doing cutting edge research in this field. So Susan is a very smart cookie. She’s got a really unique diet hook. Not only has she commercialized a 12 step program that is already quite popular, but she’s using the hook of neuroscience to sort of push her ideas and to help her ideas gain, I guess cred and she’s using her PhD to get cred as well. Let’s dive into this whole neuroscience thing because this this is heavily relied on in her book too. To to justify her ideas about why bright line eating is a good idea. And I, I have no words, I have a lot of words. Okay. So she talks a lot about the brain. And she does seem to understand that body weight is very tightly regulated by our brain, particularly by our hypothalamus. And she acknowledges as well that only a tiny fraction of people who tried to lose weight using dieting will keep it off in the long term. She agrees in her book that the hypothalamus is like, sort of like a thermostat in our body, which regulates our body weight. And it’s a completely automatic process that is outside of our control, just like breathing, or body temperature, we don’t control those kinds of things with our brains. And the same happens with bodyweight. So she pays lip service to that, but then spends basically the rest of the book talking about how her ideas of neuroscience will, I guess, in some way, fix that as if it’s broken. It’s really confusing. So what she says is, so let’s start by diving into what she’s actually saying about neuroscience and how this is going to justify her extreme diet. She does paying lip service in this book to how tightly regulated bodyweight is by our brain, but she skips over like, pretty much most of the science that shows that any kind of change in body weight that we achieved through dieting will be temporary and overridden by these extremely well established processes in our brain. In fact, she tells the readers that through through her kind of ideas that this that we can kind of reset our body weight to almost like like literally what we might, we can choose it, we can choose the number and go for it. And because of her method that this will stick around in the long term. She never mentioned the defended weight range, which is really interesting, because the defended weight range is absolutely uncontested in weight science. It’s one of the fundamentals that we know about brains and how they work in regulating our body weight. But, you know, all book about neuroscience, and weight, she never mentioned that. But don’t worry, because when we talk to Dr. Amer, who is also a neuroscientist in just a minute, we will talk a lot more about that. So she does talk a lot about leptin, in how that regulates our body weight. And so Leptin is a hormone which is stored inside our fat cells. As our fat cells get larger, they secrete leptin. And if leptin levels increase in our bodies, they tend to go to our brain and tell our brain hey, look, we’re we’ve got enough food, it’s all good. We feel really comfortable, wear it the right way. So we don’t have to keep out keep seeking out food. Susan claims that people in larger bodies have too much leptin, and that it doesn’t get to our brains to stay stop eating. She says that this is because larger people are leptin resistant. And so even though we are definitely fat enough, our brains think we’re starving and encourage us to eat more. She claims that the cause of leptin resistance is insulin resistance, so that high levels of insulin will block Lipton’s ability to get into the brain. And she says that insulin resistance is caused directly by processed food. So these are a lot of bows that she’s drawing very, very sweeping generalizations. But in essence, she’s saying that we that larger people particularly insatiably eating, because leptin is being blocked by brain stem, which causes us to mindlessly eat processed food all day. And the most primal part of our brains are not getting the message that we’re full and telling us that we’re staffing. So basically, we are all leptin resistant humans and just mindless processed food eating machines. Now I have a few issues with this. Not all larger people have insulin resistance. It’s a really big assumption. And furthermore, to jump to processed foods being the primary cause of insulin resistance. When we know that insulin resistance is impact by an enormous range of factors, genetic, environmental, and social, it’s completely simplistic to say it’s all about processed food. Susan presents literally no data to support this idea that all larger people are leptin resistant. The idea that larger people might simply be larger because they’re larger, escapes her completely. Because for her, anyone who is larger is, by definition sick or deficient. During this book, it’s really disturbing that she frequently refers to this concept of the right size body. So she, the right size body is a thin body, your thinnest ever. And so it’s it’s just really disturbing to hear a complete disregard for body diversity, and a complete lack of data here to back up these arguments about leptin. It’s a lopsided Lipton discussion. So one thing that she’s completely left out of leptin is the impact of weight loss dieting on our leptin levels. So leptin changes are an important part of the metabolic changes that can happen when we try to reduce our body weight through diet. You see, when we try and diet and lose weight, our leptin levels drop, and this drop stimulates a huge increase in our appetite and interest in food. So although she’s focusing on this idea of all larger people being leptin resistant, it’s just as plausible to say that people who are looking for weight loss might actually have certainly like reduced circulating levels of leptin because of dieting, and that that lower leptin level is what is telling our brains that we’re starving and that we’re very hungry. So leptin drops and interesting food is very well researched, and documented phenomenon in weight science and in neuroscience, because going down underneath our body’s defended weight range is a danger signal to the brain, a very primitive and important danger signal to the brain. It is very troubling, that this fundamental role of leptin was skipped by Susan, because she knows about this stuff. And let’s not forget that Susan’s target market is middle aged and older white women. And these, this is a population. These are people who have dieted for many years. So these people may well have reduced leptin levels in their bloodstream. Okay. And let’s also not forget that once she forces this extreme diet onto these followers, of course, the leptin drop is going to occur in everyone’s brain. She knows this. At one point in the book, she even mentions the Biggest Loser study, which followed people up years after their diet, and noted how completely damaged their metabolisms were from the strict diet. So she talks about that, and she talks about how there was metabolic damage. She says in the book, that during what she calls the weight loss phase in the bootcamp, she even admits that your metabolism will slow down by something like 80 to 90%. But then in the next breath, she promises that that there’s no evidence that that will continue to happen. She says, We’ve never seen evidence of this happening in bright line eating, there is no reason for alarm. And this is this really got me annoyed because she has no evidence of it, because she’s done no research on it. That doesn’t mean it’s not a thing. Simply because you don’t look for harm, doesn’t mean there’s no harm. I’m completely irritated by her kind of airy dismissal of the very real threat is to metabolism, because it is what happens when people try to start another bugbear I have is her claim in the book that you can set your goal weight, and you can choose it basically based on the lowest weight you’ve ever been. And then she pretty much guarantees that people will achieve it. And again, this flies in the face of all weight science, which says body weight is very much regulated by a genetic predisposition and a whole range of factors beyond our control, and also that the chances of achieving permanent and dramatic weight loss next to nothing. And there’s no evidence to say that the bright line eating is any different. And we’ll get into that in part two. Susan starts to talk about cravings which she refers to as a brain based binging mechanism and she blames food cravings on a part of our brain called the nucleus accumbens, and this is the set of pleasure and reward and motivation in our brain. It’s basically our reward circuit. And the neurons in our nucleus accumbens are activated by dopamine and dopamine is a walk every ward or motivating hormone. Susan talks about how rewards in our environment like sex or food have been evolutionarily rare. But now in our modern environment, we’re flooded by stimuli, food stimuli all the time and our food, our brains can’t handle it, she says. So, our nucleus accumbens is basically being overstimulated by food, too. So, she said when when this when our nucleus accumbens is overstimulated, it adapts by down regulating. So what that means is that it reduces the dopamine receptors in the brain. So the pleasure is less when we do the behavior, and then we need more of a substance to get the same pleasure rush. So this is the process that she says is happening with food, she uses her own experience as a drug addict to paint this picture more vividly. So she says for her, when she was using drugs, the same amount of drugs did not hit the spot for her she needed more, and also that it didn’t feel pleasurable. After a while, she just felt like she needed to get it just to feel normal, just to be okay for a bit. And look, that is tolerance. And that is well documented in addiction literature, particularly for drug addiction, especially for opiate receptors, we need more and more of a drug to get the same hit. That’s what happens with heroin addiction are the same, for example, but she says food is exactly the same. So she’s claiming that flour and sugar, in particular, are acting on our brains in the same way as drugs like heroin, because they are processed. And also because eating palatable food gives us a pleasure response. She doesn’t have very much data to support this idea of sugar being a drug. And she just sort of refers us to Dr. Lustig, who is that the the author of sweet poison, and she talks about rat studies that even she admits that there’s no scientific evidence to support her idea that refined flour is a drug, for example, or in any way addictive. So she’s got literally nothing to back up the idea that flour is a drug, and very little when it comes to sugar. And we’ll go through that more with Dr. Anna in just a minute. But essentially, Susan’s viewing this as a really simple process. Larger bodied people in a food packed environment, have this drug addict like response to processed food. And when they eat this toxic food, it becomes less satisfying over time, because of this down regulation of dopamine that people still crave or desire the food. But again, and we’ll talk about this more with Sandra, the piece of the puzzle missing that she doesn’t talk about is the role of deprivation. When a person’s body has been destabilize, when when they haven’t had access to say sugar or flour. I’m sorry, I’m laughing because it’s ludicrous to call sugar and flour I drug that so when when things are unpredictable, basically, our reward hormones will make us feel more driven towards the stuff that’s rare. So this whole thing we can look at is just a really normal brain response to deprivation. It’s not really a thing. And I’m not alone, the DSM five, which is like the Statistical Manual for mental disorders in sort of like I guess the way psychologists decide whether or not something is the disorder, recently considered compulsive overeating, underneath this newly named category, which is called substance related and addictive disorders. And they looked at food and they excluded it from being a thing, because there wasn’t enough evidence. Okay, so we have quite a lot of scientists agreeing that this is not a thing. And like I said, we will hear more from neuroscientist Dr. Emmett in just a minute on this. Some of the ways that Susan is trying to tell us out convince us that sugar and flour are toxic poisons are just quite weird and out there. So in one bit in the books, she’s asking you to google image heroin and sugar and look at them side by side and try and tell the difference. So she’s saying that because they look the same, they must be drugs. I just want to say for the record, things that look like drugs are not necessarily drugs. But apparently in her view, processing things is what makes them drugs. So she’s saying sugar gets processed from say, a sugar cane plant and it gets stuck. acted and becomes sugar, which increases their toxicity. I just don’t agree. Peppermint tea also comes from a plant and has been processed into a more pure form. However, it’s not deadly. It’s not on her list of things that might be addictive, dried chilies, same thing. I mean, it’s just, it really isn’t convincing stuff. I was thinking about how the bright line eating plan will keep people in a permanent state of hunger and restriction and how that state is going to play into this whole idea of the belief in the idea of food addiction, because, of course, the longer we’re deprived from something that’s delicious, enjoyable, pleasurable, the stronger our desire will become the forbidden or out of reach thing. We know, for example, if people are full, when they’re doing an experiment where they’re exposed to food stimuli, their reward centers are less activated, for example. And when you think about it, you’re never going to be full on bright line eating. So you’re going to feel like an addict. And then if you turn up at one of the bright line eating forums, where everyone is talking that language, it’s going to start to feel really real. But I guess what I want to emphasize is that things, feeling real things, feeling like compulsion, or addiction is different to what’s actually going on, there’s a whole different way of looking at what’s going on another bugbear for me. She repeatedly scares people in response by referring to food, as drugs, poisons, toxins. But then in the book a bit later on, when when she’s talking about feeding the family, she says it’s perfectly fine for kids to eat these dreaded toxins, because apparently, they’re young enough to burn off the calories. For me, that was the most telling moment of this entire book, when her eating disorder was inadvertently revealed in its full splendor. Because underneath all the fancy talk about bright lines, and toxicity, and neuroscience, in my opinion, is a woman who is desperately attached to thinness as a measure of self worth, and someone who is really suffering still with an eating disorder. Look, if she really believes sugar and flour are toxic poisons, she would not advise giving them to children, the fact that she does prove it and say look, it’s fine, because of the calories out argument. That just says it all really, there’s no doubt that these extremely strict rules and bright line eating which is lifted from FA, are full on, and she’s throwing in neuroscience talk to justify these. So what she’s claiming is that she’s going to help everybody shift eating behavior out of our decision making part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex into the automatic part of the brain, the basal ganglia, she literally says stuff like, it takes some willpower to set up and then little to none, when it becomes automatic, is nothing for your brain to make a decision about. The brain evolved to make certain repeated actions automatic, so it’s not willpower. It’s an automatic part of your brain like tooth brushing, and that her bright lines will free up cognitive resources, so you don’t have to think about it at all. Again, it sounds convincing. And by dragging brain talk into it, Susan has science washed extreme deprivation and presented it as normal, dumbing down our complex relationship with food and eating into an automatic behavior. Akin to tooth brushing is an insult. This tooth brushing analogy is completely misleading. It only works if we also imagine that for some reason. toothbrushing is also deeply imprinted in your brain at a brainstem level as an extreme threat to your survival. And also that thoughts of not brushing your teeth will plague you as strongly as your desire or breath. The truth is our bodies are hardwired to find food to eat, to keep our body weight stable, and comfortable and to not starve Susan’s attempt to tell us that we can set and forget starvation just won’t happen. It is just not automatic for us to continue to force ourselves to do something which our bodies perceive as deadly. And look Susan knows this. It’s obvious that she knows this from how much she has monetized this program. There would be no need for her to develop such a massive support group system and daily accountability if the whole process of eating is also automatic. Okay, well look I think that’s enough at this Wait, I really want to thank you for listening and I hope you’re as fired up as I was in 2020 and still am in 2023. Because this bright line bullshit, it’s next level. And believe me, it gets worse. So make sure you tune in next week for what is going to be a hugely satisfying interview with an actual reputable neuroscientist, Dr. Sandra amate. She’s just wonderful. Okay, in the meantime, thank you so much for listening, everyone. Take care. Trust your body. Think critically push back against diet, culture, untrap from the crap
Transcribed by https://otter.ai