Don’t miss Part 3 of our deep dive into Bright Line Eating, where I dissect the grand claims made by Susan Peirce Thompson & compare them to the actual research. We also chat with Martina, an ex-Bright Liner, who shares her story.

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Show Transcript 

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. Welcome to part three of our deep dive into this food addiction cult called bright line eating. Today we’re going to dive into the so called Science which allegedly backs up Susan Peirce Thompson’s wild claims about bright line eating and then we’re going to chat with Martina Zannger the listener whose personal experience with this problematic group first raised alarm bells for me back in 2020. If you love us here on all fired up, please help us spread the word by going to Spotify or Apple podcasts and leave us a really fiery five star rating and a review. And of course, if you’re not yet subscribed to all fired up, please follow us so you don’t miss out on a single exquisite rant. I am downloading this rage every week now so you don’t want to miss out. Now free stuff who doesn’t love that? There is 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 Dr. Fiona Willer. In the ebook, we are busting open the top 10 myths that float around diet culture, all about the relationship between weight and health. This has been completely updated and now includes myth busting about weight loss drugs, which is something I’ve wanted to add for ages. It feels really good to get it out again. 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 head to our website and it will pop up or you can go to Instagram, which is untrapped underscore au and click on the link in the bio Knowledge is power my friends. The all fired up podcast is brought to you thanks to the brand new untrapped Academy, a wonderful oasis of anti diet information skills training and support. We have some incredible anti diet speakers and topics already in there waiting for you. So we have Dianne Bondy Christy Harrison, Sabrina Strings, Ragen Chastain Fiona Sutherland, Sofie Hagen, Chrissy King, E-K Dauphin, Lacey-Jade Christie, Ash Gillon, Fiona Willer and Megan Crabbe. It’s just wonderful. Plus, I’m adding talks and skills training on all sorts of topics, things like binge eating, regular eating, your body story, and new topics are coming up all the time. In August, the theme is going to be advocacy, and we’re welcoming some really incredible speakers and guests, so I can’t wait for that to unfold. So join us in the contract Academy, your first month is just one Ozzy dollar. So you’ve really got nothing to lose by trying us on donor And check us out. Before we get on with today’s episode, I want to issue another huge content and trigger warning, we’re gonna be talking as I said to Martina Zannger, who had lived experience with this culty movement, which was quite disturbing. She is going to be talking in quite a lot of detail about her eating disorder history, her restrictive weight loss practices in the bright line eating cult, and obviously that’s sensitive material. She’s also going to be talking and mentioning her own childhood sexual assault trauma. So please make your own decision about whether or not this material is safe for you. Your mental health is really important. But if you’re all fired up about this, and you’re looking to hear more, let’s get on with the show. Let’s start with looking at the claims about research of this because there’s an entire page on the brightline eatings website, which is rather grandly titled research publications and in Susan Peirce Thompson’s book and during her emails and like 1000s of messages that she sends people is always talking about all this research that allegedly has been done on bright line eating to prove how effective it is. But he’s it you know me I’m not just gonna hear a message and believe the hype I’m gonna dig and I dug and like the truth here it’s just so much less shiny and sparkly. then then what she’s saying. So on this website, there are what looks at first glance, to be four research publications listed. But actually only one of them is a published paper. The others, literally just posters from conferences. So when you go to a professional conference in like, say the nutrition world, there’ll be paid presenters and then there’ll be a lot of unpaid presenters, a lot of researchers giving workshops and talks and stuff like that. And then there are what is called poster presentations, where people like literally put up pictures or posters describing their research. And it can be anyone from an honours or masters level student. Sometimes we see weight loss industry, people putting up posters, so posters are not the same as a published research paper. And so after what look like four research publications on her website, only one’s been actually published the rest poster presentations. And you know, it’s interesting because Susan piers Thompson is has been in academia for most of her life. And I find it very unusual that someone who has been in academia at a PhD level has so little in the name of actual research publications, because many academic institutions do have a requirement that you’re publishing a lot, especially if she has such fascinating research. So it is unusual that she’s got so few published papers under her belt. So look, let’s talk about the published study, the single published study, it’s definitely nothing to write home about. It’s from the Journal of Nutrition and weight loss, interesting title. And the title of this paper was called evaluation of a commercial telehealth weight loss and management program. And it was published in 2018. And the author’s go on Thor bronde, who’s and shake up. So Susan Pierce Thompson is not one of the papers authored, and basically in overview evaluated her online eight week boot camp, okay. And so this, this is the third thing that people buy, which is it takes them through the eight week process of being starved. And the research papers said that between of over 2014 to march 2018, so roughly four years, 18,778 people enrolled in the bootcamp, I got stuck on that fact for a bit, to be honest, because remember, this costs US dollars, 900 per person and a team really 19,000 people have been through the program. In those four years, 9996 of these people did agree to do the research, so to participate as part of the ongoing study of the program. And then eight weeks later, 5374 people did the return survey. So we had a dropout rate in eighth week of around 50%. And I want you to remember, you’ve just paid $900 That is a shit ton of money. And you’ve dropped out after eight weeks. That’s that’s a clue. Right? So they followed people who completed the final sample and sort of grabbed data off them. And what they found out is that sort of the demographics, I guess, of who’s doing the program, it might not surprise you to learn that the people buying this program, mainly white people, mainly well off older female. So 92% were white 96% were college educated. And the average age of the people doing the program was 55. So she’s really targeting that menopausal market of women who have some disposable income and who are feeling really horrible about their bodies, because menopause and middle age is a time when bodies undergo a change. And unfortunately, that is not embraced. We were sort of expected as usual to try and shrink our bodies no matter what we’re trying to go through. What did they find? They took their average weight before they started the program. And this is a numbers warning here for everyone listening, I’m going to talk numbers, not because I’m a fan of weight loss. But I do think it’s useful to have some idea of what is happening to people in the program in terms of weight loss, because that will not match the claims that she’s actually making publicly. So the average weight at baseline was 88.3 kilos after the lightweight boot camp. Remember, the boot camp means that you have to eat only three times a day, the meals really strictly weighed and measured. And of course, you’re not allowed anything with flour or sugar. So it’s it’s grain. And average weight loss over the eight weeks was 7.1 kilogram. And look, that’s not surprising. Given the level of starvation at play, it would be very surprising if people did not lose weight after restricting themselves so firmly for eight weeks at us $900 For the bootcamp that’s around $1,300 Australian, with an average weight loss of seven kilos, you’re paying close to 200 Australian dollars per kilo over eight weeks. And we know that that’s going to be a temporary loss because any weight loss that happens on programs like this is really temporary and weight tends to come back on. But my take home from reading this paper is there’s nothing to see here. There’s nothing, nothing outstanding. It’s your run of the mill short term weight loss program research paper, which lo and behold has has shown that when you starve you will lose weight. There’s nothing to set this apart from any other weight loss program. There was no attempt in the research paper to even investigate anything neurological, which is interesting, given the neuroscience underpins her whole book, there was also no attempt to search for harm or to screen people, for example, for eating disorder behaviors at any point during the program. So pretty flimsy, pretty unimpressive from from where I’m sitting. So compare this rather limp research to the rather grand claims that she’s making. In her book, direct quote, We believe it is the most successful weight loss program on Earth. Okay, Susan, it’s nice that you believe this. But we do need some facts to back up this opinion. In the book, there is an effort from Susan to put some numbers in to back up her claims of this being the most awesome thing on the planet. But she’s using some pretty stinky tactic. At one point in the book, she brags about the rate of weight loss on her program, compared to weight loss that happens on other commercial weight loss programs like work work, or old friends, and Jenny Craig. So she says after two years, the research on Jenny Craig, and what work showed people lost eight to 9% of their starting weight. And then she says that on my program, people lose 10%. And then she says that people lose more weight on her program. And her weight loss is 12 times faster. That’s a little bit of statistical thuggery there. Because what she’s doing is comparing so that we’re in Jenny Craig, research went for two years. And her bootcamp research goes for eight weeks, you can’t compare something that goes for eight weeks to something that goes for two years, and then say yours is better, because yours is incomparable. Basically, by stopping research sooner, to make your stuff look more effective. All you’re doing is stopping looking, when people are in like the real, the real kind of acceleration rate of weight loss early on, people lose more weight. And the longer you follow people on these research papers, more weight by weight gain. So really dodgy, very sneaky, not a fair comparison. Now the big deal when you’re trying to peddle weight loss is not in the short term results with anyone can basically manipulate using anywhere Third, the great diet, the cookie diet, like anyone can get weight loss. It’s all about proving that your program can quote unquote, keep the weight off forever. Because yeah, that’s that’s really what everyone’s looking for. Because we know that overwhelmingly in lifestyle diet programs, the weight comes on, and a lot of people end up heavier than they were before this. And Susan Pierce Thompson knows the stuff on it. So I was pretty much dumbfounded to read the claims that she’s making in her book. In her book, she actually says the following I’m just gonna read what she’s saying. 87% of respondents maintained weight loss or continued to lose one year on 28% Were at goal weight and quote unquote, many more were still losing. At Galway, people have lost 25% of their starting weight, and of those that go weight at 4% or maintaining it. This little nugget of a paragraph has absolutely no statistics or research to back it up. Like nothing, nothing. You can’t do that. You can’t make claims with statistics in them without referring to the sample that you’re actually speaking about. We’ve got no numbers, no descriptions of who she’s talking about. We have like literally no idea 87% of how many respondents we don’t know. We don’t know if we’re talking about four people, or 4000. Of what even is a respondent? Like, what, what are we talking about? We don’t know how many people are in this research pool of people that she’s apparently followed long time. So my question Susan Pierce Thompson, why are you so cagey about sharing these statistics with the world? Where are these people coming from? Who the hell are they? If you’ve apparently cracked the holy grail of permanent weight loss? Why aren’t we hearing the whole story? There’s a grand unsubstantiated claim that he makes shortly after that, no other eating program on the planet has a cohort of people reaching and maintaining all weight, okay, to which I say prove it says in peacetime, so put your money where your mouth is. And as we’ll see in a minute, there’s plenty of money here, this kind of stuff is really dirty, this is not okay to like literally make up statistics and make claims that will set a false promise. Another huge red flag, which I’ve got my goat is in the book, she admits that there are people in her program that have eating disorders, and a large number of people who are doing their program who are all really thin, and then doing the program to achieve weight loss and achieve this, quote, unquote, goal weight. This is not just ethically awful, I mean, it’s just ethically shocking to think that you would unquestioningly allow people with active eating disorders onto your program, and also allow people to starve themselves, often even get started. But it’s also going to interfere with any scientific results as a kind of realization that, okay, if we’re talking about people who have quote, unquote, hit goal weight, but we’re small to begin with, or it’s just so dirty, and so messy, and I really do worry, if she’s saying that there is a cohort of people who’ve lost 25% of their body weight and are maintaining it, I really worry about those people, because they could very well be very unwell at just sort of people being represented in her book as success stories. And that makes me sick. So Returning now to her apparent research publications on this website. So we’ve got basically the one short term pipe paper that was nothing to write home about. And then there’s three other posters, not actually published research, as we’ve talked about just just posters, but on the website, they’re labeled as research publications, which is misleading. I took a look, though, at the posters. And I just run really quickly through what I found. One, there’s a poster version of the paper, the published paper that we were just talking about. But then for some reason, there’s a description of that poster. And it’s talking about a completely different sample of people for no, I don’t actually know why. It’s a smaller number of people like 3280 people, I think it’s because they’re talking about a smaller sample of people who actually do have a BMI of 25 or above, which again, means that the people who were featured in the published article, quite a substantial number of those people within to begin with, that’s a worry. And as I said, from a research point, it’s potentially misleading. So from the poster and then the description of the poster, which talks about a completely different sample, that’s really all I could kind of understand is that we’re talking about different people. And we’re talking about this potential. There’s a lot of people doing bright line eating who are already small, did not manage to get anything in terms of results or coherent information out of whatever that was. The next poster featured the title was bright line eating and effective online program for sustained weight loss. So this is a post from a nutrition conference. It was written by a saw and Carly Thor from Millsaps College, and charmingly I have discovered that Carly is Andrews daughter. And my question is like it was this kind of some kind of school assignment because it’s terrible. This is not not even right. I don’t even know what to call it. It’s, it’s a post a version of the dodgy tactic that I was just talking about, which is what Susan did in the book, which is talking about people who have lost and maintained weight loss for two years using the bright line eating program, but they’re a leech. It literally doesn’t talk about who they’re talking about. It doesn’t define the same All right, so there’s no actual numbers. I haven’t seen anything like this before, it was quite extraordinary in terms of how bad it was, it has the headings that you might ordinarily find in a scientific paper, introduction, methods, results and discussion. But it’s not actually a research paper. All it does is describe the bright line eating program. Under the method section, for example, it just talks about what happens in bootcamp. There’s, there’s no actual statistical or experimental design described in this poster, but no kind of information given to the reader about how the long term research was carried out. Under the results section of this poster, there are bar graphs. And the bar graphs do present information, but there’s no numbers again, like we don’t know who this sample is. And one of them says that it shows the main percentage of weight loss of people who opted to be included in follow up surveys for research purposes, and have provided initial and subsequent bodyweight results over the past two years. We don’t know what two years, we don’t know how many people were in that sample. We’ve got no numbers at all, we’re gonna be talking about three people, we could be talking about Andrew and Carly, I have no idea what we’ll be talking about 4000 people, which is kind of a red flag, right. And it gets even worse, a bar graph is called decrease in body weight over time, but one of the bars says baseline and then says baseline and then it says like it has a 10% weight loss. Apparently, apparently people like losing weight, losing 10% of their body weight at baseline, which I’ve got no words, slightly weird. So this is not research. This is a sloppy poster, which was up at a nutrition conference. And it’s worlds apart from a peer reviewed ethics approved academic paper. I just can’t say anything else about it. I mean, except Shame on you, Susan Pierce Thompson for trying to pass this off the science. And then there’s one more poster which is from Andrew Thor is telling me that his daughter is from 2017. And it looks like it’s a smaller version of the eight week boot camp, you know, results. So again, nothing to write home about. So please don’t be fooled. If you hear from people or Susan piers Thompson, that bright line eating is evidence based or research based. This is a bump in the vol. One published paper that shows weight loss, woohoo, and literally nothing too bad. There is nothing to back up anything about long term changes in weight. Surely, someone who is making millions of dollars from her programs can afford to squeeze out a little bit more quality data than that. He is so quiet again, we believe that this is the most successful weight loss program on Earth. Okay, belief is not the same as data. Consumers be warned. This is snake oil sales at its finest. So that’s the research a bit done. I hope here is unimpressed as I was. And now what I’d like to do is get beyond these all of this sort of science stuff and really talk about the humanity because that’s what we’re here for. So let’s hear now from someone who was taken in by Susan piers Thompson, and her bright line eating cult, Dr. Martinez zanger. And I had an awesome talk about her experiences, and you really, really need to hear her story. So without further ado, I’m gonna kick you over to my train up. So my Tina, thank you so much for coming on the show. It’s my pleasure, Louise. And tell me what what gets you all fired up? Speaker 2 23:53 Well, the thing that annoys fired up about I’m most fired up about diet culture, in general. But most particularly, I’m all fired up about the bright line eating movement, which I think is an unconscionable money making scheme that gives participants eating disorders such as orthorexia, anorexia and binge eating disorders. So it’s actually a really dangerous program that is marketed brilliantly by the neuro psychologist Susan Pierce Thompson, who is basically a very charismatic charming manipulator making at least $10 million a year from from her various programs. Louise Adams 24:48 Oh my gosh, yeah. When when I heard your crappies rant that you you sent in. It just really stuck in my in my head just how Yeah, your experience because you’re talking from personal experience. Speaker 2 25:04 Yeah, I am, whatever, whatever I’m saying is based on my own personal experience, and also on some of my friends who did the program too. And then who had similar experiences to me? Louise Adams 25:21 Yeah, I think it’s so important to come on and talk about your experiences in, in, in, in, especially these kinds of communities, which can be quite weird. I’d hear a lot, you know about how things work and what happens to people. But we always hear from diet culture, the so called success stories and weight loss diets, or Trent, you know, transforming your life and transforming your body. Rarely do we hear like the actual the human casualties, and the destruction and the harm that’s been done by these diet programs. And I’m just so glad that you’re happy to come on and talk like, talk us through like, I couldn’t imagine detail about what happened to you. Yeah, I’m very happy to Yeah, because it’s just not the sparkly, promised land that No, I mean, she martyrs Speaker 2 26:26 brilliantly. And people, despite the Kool Aid, like they are just 10s of 1000s of people have signed up to her brands, and continue to pay, so you can’t just pay once, for your eight week bootcamp, you then then have to join her follow up programs. And most women that it’s mostly women that sign up, and they’re pretty much between 40 and 70 years of age, they’re middle class, white women, and they would probably spend an average of $3,000 a year on her various programs that they become really dependent on. Louise Adams 27:10 Oh my gosh, that’s a lot of money. Because you Speaker 2 27:12 can’t Can you can’t continue to do it on your own, you would just fall off the wagon, because it’s an impossible program to do except for maybe 1% of the population. That’s control freak, highly anxious. perfectionistic and, you know, mentally unwell. Louise Adams 27:36 Okay. Yeah. And I think, you know, a small number of people can sustain, yes, very restrictive practices with eating in the long term. And, and, you know, as a therapist, I get concerned that those people are actually you know, restrictive eating disorders are everyone Speaker 2 27:58 exceeds, has an eating disorder. And when I was succeeding, so called, which I don’t believe I was, but quotation marks succeeding. I had an eating disorder, I developed orthorexia, and I was close to anorexia. And I was extremely thin, but still wanting it was not enough. I want it to get down lower. And that’s just insanity. Louise Adams 28:24 That’s frightening, isn’t it? That’s an eating disorder. It can be a slippery slope and the pursuit of weight loss. Just, you know, the eating disorder keeps dropping the number. Yeah. That was happening to you. Speaker 2 28:38 Yes. Yeah. And she suggested actually, some weird things like your goal, weight, goal, weight was a huge topic of conversation in the bright line eating community. She suggested that we should go back to the to our high school weighed when we were like, 1516. Now how crazy is that? We’re men and women. And our goal weight should be what we were when we were at our thinnest in Louise Adams 29:08 our teens. That is so screwed up. Yeah. Wow. Wow. Ah, ah, wow. I knew you were going to throw some things. Unknown Speaker 29:22 Insane. Yeah. So tell me, Louise Adams 29:26 tell me how you found bright lines eating and give us an idea of what it actually use? Speaker 2 29:31 Yes. So I’ve found it through a friend that I have been friends with for probably 30 years, and we have always struggled with weight together. We’ve always talked about weight, food, binging being good, being bad. And she found bright line eating and said she was going to do it. And I looked it up and I thought, yeah, I’ll do it too. We’ll do it together, which we did and we really support or did each other and I remember, in the first week, I was saying to her, I cannot fucking do this. It is so hard. I don’t think I can do it. And she was like, no, go on. Let’s, let’s keep doing it. We’ll do it for a month and see, though. And I was hungry, nonstop, day and night, day and night, day and night. And somehow, I persevered. And I lost a lot of weight, which then became really addictive, like popping on the scales and going, Oh, my God, I’ve lost another so much. And that in itself then became the addiction. For me. I think seeing the numbers on the scales and seeing my, you know, my jeans get too big and buying a size smaller. I mean, it was completely superficial. I’m, I feel embarrassed because I think of myself as quite a deep person. But it was so superficial. But it was highly intoxicating. Louise Adams 31:05 I don’t think it’s superficial. Yeah. Yeah. When it comes to chasing that weight loss, that is something that happens when you get an eating disorder. Exactly. Yeah. And like you said, you’re feeling intense hunger all the time. But also an intense exhilaration or high from weight loss. And that’s a sign of an eating disorder. NACME Ah, that’s that’s really tough. So you’ve got a guess. What did you have to do? One is bright lights. Speaker 2 31:35 Yeah. There are four bright lines. And they are hanging up written down. No sugar, no flour, three weighed and measured meals a day. No snacks, not even any milk in your coffee. Like, and the diet was probably 1000 calories a day. So there were tiny portions of grains tiny like you might as well not eat any because it was just like one tablespoon of rice. And then so tons of veggies, so much veggies that I for a while when I stopped. I couldn’t even look at any veggies. And then a tiny bit of fruit and probiotics and protein. So it was an absolute died of deprivation. Louise Adams 32:31 It just sounds I mean, my immune when you gave me that number that is so low. Yeah. And I think my thoughts about diets is that I hate them all. But very low calorie dieting is defined as I think. That’s that’s in that range. And I think people are supposed to be medically supervised if they have less than, say 800 calories a day. So this is this is less than one a toddler would get. Speaker 2 33:01 Exactly, exactly. I was I was so hungry. But I would talk myself into like, I feel really good. I feel so great. I finally got control. I think it was about having control. Maybe at a time when there were things that were out of control in my life in mites are interesting. Yeah, so menopause was I was during in the middle of menopause, which I had a hard menopause. And there were some family issues my mother died and so on. So I think it gave me this illusion of control. I can control my life. I can control my weight. I can even like I can set back the clock so I can feel younger rather than like an old menopausal Frank. Louise Adams 33:54 Oh my gosh. So many things in there. Speaker 2 33:58 Yeah, yeah. And also on the back. On the back of having grown up with a mother who was has been on it was on a diet for 67 years of her entire life and taught me I when I was 12 Louise Adams 34:13 Oh god, that’s so sad. Speaker 2 34:17 Yeah, so sad for her and for me. Louise Adams 34:20 Yeah. So you were you were trained as a as a dieter like from whole life? Speaker 2 34:27 Yeah, absolutely. And I had as a as a young, you know, as a young teenager, and in my 20s I had very low self esteem. And I thought what I look like is gonna give me the self esteem I was lacking. So I felt I was no good at anything. I was not as good as other people. I had a history of of childhood trauma. So that made me feel I’m different. I’m not enough I’m damaged goods and did not die. She sort of really worked to make me feel all I’m good at. I’m good at something. I’m really good at this. Louise Adams 35:08 This makes sense. It does. Yeah, it had a function in your life. And it wasn’t all negatives, it had powerful positive. To make that, that whole thing of compensating for like, I’m deeply flawed, but I can do this. Unknown Speaker 35:24 Yeah, yeah, that’s Louise Adams 35:27 and diet culture, just, you know, is all over that. It’s all over how women are trained to think of themselves as their appearance is their worth. Me and all over like just the men how much to does the abuse of children and women get completely overlooked? Speaker 2 35:47 Yeah. Yeah. And when women can think about their weight, instead of the trauma they experienced, often at the hands of men. That, you know, they they stay oppressed, and they don’t speak out and say, this thing happened to me. And there are, but in my case, there were two men that were prominent men. One was a politician. One was a judge who the need for six years of my life when I was a child, and I felt I had no voice. So instead of having a voice, I dieted, and I focused all my energy on being really thin and pleasing. Louise Adams 36:33 Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And my heart breaks for you. Yeah. Yeah. It makes sense. You found a way of coping, and surviving badly. Yeah. Speaker 2 36:47 Yeah. And to distract myself from the pain of abuse. You can just think about what am I going to eat? What should I have not seen? How many calories is that? It can become a loop that just goes round and round as if you’re a little hamster on a wheel, day after day after day. Louise Adams 37:10 It’s a powerful distraction. But it’s in many ways, much easier to think about food and yeah, how hungry you are in ways not to be hungry. And it is not figure out just the the horribly complex and confronting stuff underneath it. Yeah, yeah. Oh, my gosh. So you really, like so many people were ripe for predators like Susan piers Thompson. Speaker 2 37:36 Exactly. Yeah. So much. Like she said, I’ve written this down. She said, It’s a scientifically grounded program that teaches you a simple process for getting your brain on board. So you can finally live happy, thin and free. I mean, that sounds really seductive. Doesn’t it happy within free? Eyeball affairs? Yeah. Yeah. Oh, and since you sent in your crappy I signed up for her newsletters. Louise Adams 38:15 And, honestly, I, where are we say it’s the eighth of June today that we’re recording? Yes. Signed up on the Third of May. Yeah. I’ve had 50 emails from her. Speaker 2 38:26 In a month. You’ve had emails? Yeah. Yeah, that’s the Hartselle that she does. Louise Adams 38:33 And it’s full of that happy, thin and free stuff. Yeah. In the winter, she’s in her right body, Speaker 2 38:40 give the wrong size body, she calls it her size body or the bright line body, which is so stupid. I can’t believe it. I can’t believe I bought the message. Louise Adams 38:54 Oh, but she’s great at it. She’s, uh, she’s hitting every single marketing box. And she has the credentials. So Speaker 2 39:04 she’s a professor of neuro psychology. So I, you know, I myself, teach at university and I have a PhD. So I was like, wow, she must know her stuff. But, you know, she has made up this program that just makes it makes her I would say approximately $10 million a year. Louise Adams 39:30 Yeah. How did you work out that well, Speaker 2 39:33 so this boot camp, the eight week boot camp costs about $1,200 Australian a year it’s 995. American could even be 1300. And then when you finish the eight week boot camp, she says you can’t do this alone. So you need our support. And so you have to sign up or bright lifers which is a one year sort Port program that you have to read renew annually. And that’s about $700 a year. And then there’s another program that is for all those poor people who fall off their bright lines, which is probably at least 60%, at least more 70. And it’s called reboot resume. And so 1000s of women sign up for that, because they feel ashamed that they can’t keep their bright lines. She’s making Louise Adams 40:34 people pay for the relapse that her program causes. Speaker 2 40:39 Exactly. And then she has a fourth program, which is called bright line mind, which is all about like setting your mind right. To have your bright lines bright. I mean, it’s just completely ridiculous. Louise Adams 40:55 I mean, it all rhymes, but it’s all bullshit. Bullshit. Ah, like, the neuroscience thing like it does it good hits the credibility scientific II thing. Yeah. And then she uses the addiction models. Yeah, tend that this is the problem with our brains is that we are addicted to flour and sugar. And chronic restriction and constant Voicing is the only way through it. Speaker 2 41:21 Exactly. Yeah. And she even says, I’ve told you this before, when you’re cooking, if you’re hungry, put some sticky tape across your mouth. So you’re not tempted to lick the spoon that you’re stirring your food with? I mean, just Louise Adams 41:37 massively, utterly crazy. Just flat out the range. The range? Yeah, irresponsible, horrific, but I mean, for her to confidently say that to 50,000 people. Speaker 2 41:51 Yes. Yeah. And, and women who can’t follow the bright lines. They blame themselves, not the diet. They blame themselves, not Susan piers Thompson. And that’s, you know, that’s tragic. And then they try again, and again, they’ll sign up for another for another program. Because they go I’ve been very bad. And I need to learn how to be good. But that’s diet Louise Adams 42:16 culture, isn’t it? Let’s sell people something that doesn’t work, yet sell something that actually causes harm. And then when people struggle, let’s blame them and make them pay for it. Again, it’s it’s evil. Yeah. And so very early on, in your experience in bright lines, you found it pretty difficult, but then you kind of got hooked on the weight, the weight loss. And so how, how did things go from there, where you want to people, it fell off the right line. So were you able to Speaker 2 42:54 kept it going almost like I do have a lot of I was brought up in Switzerland. So my mum and dad is Swiss. And they taught it’s a very authoritarian culture. And so they taught me that to have lots of discipline, the Swiss are amazing in discipline. So I used all my willpower and discipline to be good in inverted commas. And I was probably one of the more successful people in bright line eating until I finally decided this is absolute rubbish, and I have to walk away from it. But for nearly two years, I was pretty much following the bright lines 100% each a little bit on quantity. So you have to measure your food. And I remember I used to love I used to make like a Bircher muesli for breakfast with oats. Sometimes I would cheat cheese and putting you know 10 grams more out and then I’m guilty. I mean, just absolute gram. I know it 10 grands. Unbelievable that. So Louise Adams 44:05 you’re really weighed, you’re weighing everything every day, every day, that how do you do that and leave like, Speaker 2 44:13 well, you have to pack all your food like so you pack all your lunch for lunch, for your lunch at work. And then at dinner, you can only go to certain places that have basically you just all you can eat a salad for dinner. And so I would only go to certain places where I knew I could get something clean as they call it. Louise Adams 44:34 God you’re sounding so much like someone with a restrictive. Speaker 2 44:39 Exactly. And I remember one time my husband and daughter they are really they love eating and so I used to go for dinner with them and then they would go for gelato which I love. Gelato is probably my favorite food in the world. I would eat an apple why while they were eating gelato, which is so sad at like, I just feel so sad for that woman I was myself. One day, there was a lot of things happening one day, they were having gelato and I went back this, I’m gonna have a double scoop of chocolate gelato. And that was the beginning of the end. I just don’t know, I cannot sustain this way of living and eating and controlling every aspect of what went in my mouth. Louise Adams 45:28 So something in you was beginning to see yet spite of all of that powerful positive reinforcement that things weren’t okay. Speaker 2 45:37 No, they were not okay, yet. Yeah, so I’m so pleased, I found the courage to walk away from it. I did write it a letter to Susan piers Thompson and said, I thanks to you, I now have orthorexia. And I’m probably borderline anorexic, your program has actually made me have an eating disorder. I never heard back from her. I never heard back, I wrote an email to my house leaders. So they were like leaders that would support you. And they wrote back, I wrote the same email to them. And they said, Oh, we’re very sorry. We wish you well. Louise Adams 46:18 That was it. That was all serious. That’s it? Yeah. And they’re not even any interest in our God. How are we doing harm? What can we do to make sure this doesn’t happen? Speaker 2 46:31 Exactly, exactly. And so within six months, I put on all the weight I had lost over two years. And that was scary. It was a very scary process to just go, no matter what, I’m not going to die it no matter how much weight I’ve gained, I’m not going to restrict it was the promise I made myself and I haven’t since then it’s been two and a half years. And I feel that best I felt even though I’m the biggest I’ve ever been. I’m so happy. So fucking happy. And I eat what I want. I trust when my mind or body says I want this or that whether it’s healthy or so called unhealthy. Or addictive. Yeah. Or I will have it. Yeah. Oh, boy, every bite. Louise Adams 47:24 What you’re saying is that you’re happy? Not thin and free. Unknown Speaker 47:28 Yeah, exactly. Louise Adams 47:30 That drive? That’s Yes. And but I mean, at the beginning, like you said it was terrifying was so free. Yeah. And how did you get any help? I wish Speaker 2 47:41 I had to pay for bloody therapy. So I had to pay more money. I had clarity, which really did help me a lot. Louise Adams 47:48 I know that it found a good therapist. Speaker 2 47:51 I learned a few principles about intuitive eating. And that really helped me. And I also just that myself, if I had to have a binge, I had a binge. Louise Adams 48:03 You would have needed many binges. Speaker 2 48:05 I had been so deprived that I would just like buy a big packet of peanut m&ms, and spot the whole lot down in like two minutes flat because I was starving for sugar. Oh, so starving. Yeah, whereas now I just Yes, I will eat any sweets if I want them, but I’m not binging anymore. Not at all, because I can have it. Louise Adams 48:29 That is you had to go through that period of allowing yourself to Speaker 2 48:35 finish them off. Yeah, I did. Every time I had something stressful at work, I would binge. Whereas now I have something stressful at work and I can handle it. But the binging was important. It really really was to allow that. And to not go oh, I’m gonna do the binging so I can get to non binging No, I just did the binging. Because I wanted to allow myself to have the food Louise Adams 49:03 or crave Yeah, no agenda. Just yeah, you’re trying to be I just want to help myself feel safe. Yeah, exactly. Oh, god that that is so good. And it’s it’s it’s harrowing Speaker 2 49:18 was It was scary. And it was also against everything that my mother taught me and also that our society teaches it’s like, do not lose control. You’ll end up fat and ugly. And in my case, bad old and ugly because I was in menopause. And I just had to go no, I will not believe that. I can be vital. I can be smart. I can be beautiful. I can have a loving heart. I can be have a wise mind. I don’t have to look emaciated Louise Adams 49:53 in order to be worth something. Yeah. It makes me question everything you’ve been taught Yeah, exactly. Was your mom still around when Speaker 2 50:06 she died? She died just so the day before she died. Did I tell you that story she was taught, I was talking to her on the phone. She was having some back surgery the next day. And she was 87. And she’s Swiss German. So she was saying, oh, Medina, I cannot wait, because I will lose all the weight after the operation. And she died on the operating theater. Excited was going to lose the weight at 87. Yeah. So she’d had a whole life of it. And she used to say things to me, which is why I became so susceptible. She’d say, you are getting fatter and fatter. And I believed it, which wasn’t even true. I look at pictures now of myself in my teens and 20s. And I was just a normal size girl. Yeah. But that was her. Unfortunately, her legacy. I mean, I’m not I used to be very angry with her. I’m not now because she was a victim of it, too. Yeah. But I’m glad I’m free of it. And hopefully she’s free of it. Where where she is now. Louise Adams 51:18 Oh, my God, there is no diet culture in whatever happens next. Oh, yeah, it’s events like that, that help us move on. Yeah. Yeah. Because it sort of just puts it in that stark realization of I don’t want to live like that. No, no, Speaker 2 51:40 because there’s such joy in food and sharing food and looking forward to dinner out or the lunch you have in your lunchbox that’s really special. And young. Yeah, instead of just a fucking other salad. I mean, I didn’t believe it on salad. Louise Adams 52:03 It’s, oh, man, I’m, I am amazed that you’ve not only managed to get out of Brian’s, but you’ve managed to kind of by the sound of it recover from the eating disorder that Yeah. And found, like, not just pace with food, but enjoyment. Speaker 2 52:22 Enjoyment. Yeah, very much. So. That’s so lovely. And one more thing I want to add about Susan piers Thompson is that she actually lifted the program bright line eating from food Addicts Anonymous, and Overeaters Anonymous, which is a 12 step program based on the addiction model. Now, food Addicts Anonymous and Overeaters Anonymous are free. You can go to meetings all across the world, and just pay 20 cents, if that’s all you’ve got, or nothing or $1. And yet, she has lifted that program, and he’s making millions which is actually ethically completely not okay. Louise Adams 53:09 Yeah, I have heard that. I mean, the person shows on Overeaters Anonymous and I mean, I don’t I don’t agree with the whole food addiction model thing. I know, a 12 step approach to food and eating because it does too closely mirrors an eating disorder. But Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous and all of those organizations can really help people. And yeah, and they have, like I said, it’s their charitable organizations. Speaker 2 53:41 Don’t make any money. They’re not for profit. We’re monetizing Louise Adams 53:44 about profit. Yeah. Yeah. Oh, god, there’s no doubt in my mind from these emails that I’m being pummeled with. Like, like, she’s popping up all the time with like, Oh, I bet you’ve got this question. And oh, I’ve been thinking of you, which is creepy. Speaker 2 54:02 Yeah, she really seduces people. And, and often, I found a lot of those women that were part of bright line eating, who were between 40 and 70. A lot of them were empty nesters who were like sad because their children had left home a lot of them were divorced, many were lonely. And so it gave them a purpose and a community and Susan was like their big sister, loving attentive, but at the at the same time, give me give me give me your money. Louise Adams 54:38 It’s it’s so manipulative Speaker 2 54:41 and care about you and love you she always says I love you. You know how Americans do that. I always say I love you even though she’s never fucking met you. And so you feel oh my god she loves me. I’m special. Marketing floor right Louise Adams 55:00 is a cult leader. Oh, it’s yeah, it’s creepy, but she is quite charismatic. And as well as really practiced in this in this hard sell. Yeah. And I, you know, I mean, I’ve just I’m was shocked. I don’t know if I’m no, I’m not shocked I am really pissed off that you would not be alone, right? No, you would not be the only person who has done this program and come out the other side with an eating disorder. Speaker 2 55:31 Yeah, no, I’m definitely not. There’s others that I know, that have developed eating disorders and have left. And there are also many others who blame themselves at least I don’t blame myself in any way shape or form, but many do. They were like, Oh, I didn’t have the willpower. I failed. I’m a failure. They try doing it again next July. The next program starts. Louise Adams 55:58 Yeah, and that’s what it relies on. Right. It relies on the disempowerment of women exam, making them blame themselves rather than if, if women like one eight, honestly, I want people to know that this is not their fault. But if you if you’ve been involved in bright lines or anything like that, and developed an eating disorder, that’s because of the deprivation. Yeah, it’s not that there’s no kind of addiction process happening. That’s a bullshit. Yes, this is about deprivation and restriction and people’s responses to starvation. And I am in the program, I’m imagining that she doesn’t kind of give people informed consent at the beginning by saying, you know, this could give you an eating disorder. Yeah, no, not no warnings. And none of these 50 emails have said anything downside is about any of it. And then when people do get sick from it, there’s no accountability that she Speaker 2 56:55 None. None at all. Yeah, she doesn’t even reply to emails that where people go, I’m broken. I’ve got an eating disorder. I and get treatment for my eating disorder. You have Louise Adams 57:09 harmed me. Yeah, right. What your program has done, and like the first rule of medicine is first do no harm. Yeah, this I mean, there’s a lot of charlatans out there on the internet selling stupid programs, but someone who is a health professional, like a registered neuro psychologist does have a duty of care. Yeah. And I think I just think that something needs to be done in along those lines of, and that’s why it’s so good to have you here speaking out about this happened to me. Speaker 2 57:43 And if anyone wants to email me, Louise will put my email address in the show notes, I’m really happy to chat to you if you’ve done bright line eating. And if you’re struggling with anything to do with bright line eating, I’m really happy to have a chat to you or Converse via email about what you’re going through. Because you didn’t fail. The diet failed. Louise Adams 58:08 Thank you, my dear. Yeah, I think that’s a really good idea. Because there is power in community. In fact, in part of the power of the sort of dysfunctional, disordered community of bright minds, yeah. But getting together a group of people who have identified as damaged by that. No. Good things might be able to come from that. Yeah. Yeah, we need we need to protect people from these kinds of predators. Speaker 2 58:37 Yeah, yeah. Because we have a lot of charisma and power, Louise Adams 58:42 and very little in the way of actual humanity, empathy for evidence to back them up. Oh, god, thank you so much for coming on and telling your story by telling that Speaker 2 58:57 I think it’s important to to really uncover those scams that various diets are made up of bright line eating is just one of them. There are 1000s More, and they all promise like, this is the only diet that will work. It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle, you will find happiness, and yet it really causes misery. Louise Adams 59:24 Yeah, yeah. And the more we can share these stories, the more able will feel to resist temptation. I’m just glad that you’re out on the other side, Unknown Speaker 59:36 too. Yeah, Louise Adams 59:38 I can use much more gusto Yeah, and enjoy your gelato. Unknown Speaker 59:45 Yes, absolutely. Louise Adams 59:48 Thank you again. Unknown Speaker 59:49 Thanks, Louise. Louise Adams 59:51 A huge thank you to Martina for first raising the alarm about bright line eating and then sharing her story which It’s just been so eye opening. I really hope it resonates. And if you have resonated with my team has experience and would like to reach out to her. Her email is included in the show transcript, which can be You deserve better than a food cult. And I’ll say it again, restriction is never the path to freedom. Okay, so next week I will be back with one final chapter on bright line eating where we’ll do an update on where Susan piers Thompson’s diet cult is at. We’ll look at a new published study that she’s released. Oh, wow, that’ll be good. Plus, we’ll have a look at her new book, which is called resume. And this is co authored by someone called Everett Considine, a Hawaiian based certified internal family systems practitioner and life coach who is dishing out advice on how to overcome suppose an internal self sabotage. Well, that should be interesting. Okay, that’s it for this week. I cannot wait to see you again. Until next time, trust your body. Think critically push back against our culture and untrap from the crap!


  • Dr Martina Zangger’s email is – please contact her if you have also suffered as a result of the Bright Line Eating program.
  • The research publications section of the Bright Line Eating Website
  • Link to the very gushy article on Susan Peirce Thompson in 2016
  • The website showing the incredible amount of money that Bright Line Eating is making 
  • Link to Institute for Sustainable Weight Loss
  • Below is a screenshot of the ‘noncompliant’ status of the Institute for Sustainable Weight Loss charity: