Don’t miss the final part of our series on the dark world of food addiction cult Bright Line Eating. Join me as I review her new book “Rezoom”, a masterful collection of straw man arguments, red herrings, outright lies, and utter bullsh*t. There’s also a new ‘published study’, and Susan Peirce Thompson’s chilling response to criticisms of her empire.

Click here to listen

Show Transcript & Resources

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 back to my call to drop outs. So today is a slightly delayed fourth and final chapter in our series on bright line eating. As today I’m going to bring you some updates from the very murky world of bright line eating and it’s a whole kind of food addiction scam from Susan Peirce Thompson. If you love us here on all fired up, please help us spread the word by going to Spotify or Apple podcasts and leave a really fiery five star rating and a review if you feeling generous. And of course, if you’re not yet subscribed, please follow us so you don’t miss any of the rants as they pop out weekly. Okay, now some free stuff which everyone loves. Of course, there is a brand new version of my free ebook. Everything you’ve been told about weight loss is bullshit, by me and the awesome anti diet dietitian Dr. Fiona Willer. In the ebook, I’m busting open the top 10 myths that are floating around diet culture, like poo in a swimming pool. We are looking specifically at the relationship between weight and health. This has been completely updated. And now we have included mythbusting about weight loss drugs, which is very timely and something I’ve wanted to pop into the ebook ebook for quite a long time. It’s free, as I said, so please go download it, read it and share it widely with everyone you know, friends, family members, medical and health professionals. It’s useful for just about everyone living in diet culture, all you need to do is head to the website and up it will pop or you can go to Insta untrapped underscore au and click on the link in the bio. Let’s get this knowledge going everyone. Okay, we’re gonna get straight into things today. But before we do, I just want to issue another massive content and trigger warning. Because today thanks to the topic, I’m going to be discussing weight loss, extremely restrictive dieting, eating disorders, and essentially where we’re really digging into a very dark area of the online weight loss world. So please make your own choice about whether or not this is good for you. And remember, nothing. No podcast is worth your mental health that is very important. So look after yourself. Okay, on with the show, I cannot believe we’re up to part four of this series about the dark side of bright line eating Susan Peirce Thompson has extremely expensive and very restrictive food addiction empire. If you haven’t already listened to part one, two, and three, please go back and do so before you crack on with today’s episode because there’s a lot of backstory here. And I originally recorded the brightline series back in 2020. So since then, very sadly, she hasn’t gone broke because of a lack of customers. So I wanted to come on today and give you some updates about what’s been happening. And so we’re going to be diving into her new book, a new quote unquote published study, plus a really fascinating and very public response to online criticisms of bright line eating. So let’s dig in and we’re going to start with her second book, which was published in 2021. It’s called rezoom the powerful reframe, to end the crash and burn cycle of food addiction. This is a follow up to the first book bright line eating the science of living happy, thin and free from 2017, which we spoke about in episode one. The very fact that Susan’s book rezoom exists at all is proof that everything she claimed in her first book, ie that it’s possible to live happy, thin and free, whilst simultaneously permanently restricting your food is bullshit. Her first book seriously pushed the idea that if you stick to her rigid, restrictive eating plans, your brain will somehow develop automaticity basically settling down and you’ll stop being bothered by thoughts of food, which is quite wonderous from the perspective of completely ignoring the neuro biology and physiology of semi starvation. But I digress. Rezoom is a giant gas sight to the whole idea of freedom. She even admits on page one of rezoom quote, effective food recovery requires the dedication of a Special Forces Squadron Commander, unquote. Well, that’s interesting. She also admits that an astonishing 100% of participants in her expensive online boot camps that go for eight weeks were unable to stick to her so called bright lines of no sugar, no flour, portion control, weighing and measuring foods, so people were not able to do it. So as we heard from Martina in part three, Susan Peirce Thompson is raking in millions of dollars from selling her bright line boot camps. And then she’s making even more squillions of dollars from people who, of course, can’t stick to the savagely starvalicious program. Her rezoom book capitalizes off her own customers misery. This is prime diet culture bullshit right here. Resume is just eight chapters long, but my God you’ll feel aged. The entire book also could have just been a 20 page pamphlet, it is unbearably padded out and quite repetitive and seriously, really light on references to back up her claims. Like I reckon I’ve used more references for this four part series than she has in her entire book. Okay, so let’s start with chapter two, which is hilariously titled food addiction is real. Any book which needs to spend a whole chapter defending the reality of the alleged thing, it’s a bit of a red flag. She acknowledges that mainstream science is still very suspicious of food addiction, and incredibly on page 27. She even acknowledges that the overlap of so called food addiction and actual binge eating disorder is 100%. But from then on, everything just falls apart. The rest of this chapter is a great example of strawman arguments, red herrings and neuroscience language dazzling, but one thing she doesn’t do is prove that food addiction is a real thing. Without any evidence, Susan insists that the main reason food addiction models are controversial, is because of eating disorder researchers. She says back in the 1970s, when eating disorder treatments were being established. A so called foundational tenant of eating disorder therapy was helping people relax their food roles. And so she says as evidence for food addiction grew. This was in conflict with treatment providers, no references or any evidence at all produced to illuminate where she got these ideas from. It’s literally a feel-pinion. And while it’s true that helping people understand the role of restriction and then helping them to relax rigid food roles is part of eating disorder therapy. This is not why food addiction is controversial. food addiction is controversial because it lacks plausible scientific evidence. In a nutshell, compulsive and binge eating is extremely well explained as a response to restriction. There is decades of research from the Minnesota semi starvation experiment at the end of World War Two to the work of Herman and Polivy to the neuroscientific body of work from people like Dr. Sandra Aamodt. Class physicians like Dr. Jennifer Gaudiani, which demonstrate this there is a paltry literature on proposed sugar addiction models. These studies are largely conducted in rodents, and they only show an effect if the animals are first restricted. And there is literally no published research on the supposedly addictive qualities of flour. And it’s this lack of evidence that explains why we have in the DSM five binge eating disorder and not food addiction. Susan has comments attributing the controversy surrounding food addiction to eating disorder treatment providers are a classic example of a straw man argument she is completely misrepresenting the opposing position. I personally have never heard anyone in the eating disorder community expressed this particular objection to food addiction models. But of course, when people lead with a straw man, this serves the purpose of distracting from the central argument. In order to prove that food addiction is real. Susan should be addressing her unproven claims about the so called addictive nature of food, which she literally never does. In this entire book. She does list the DSM five criteria for substance abuse disorders, claiming that eating supposedly addictive food meets that criteria. But there’s a difference. You say we need food to live we certainly don’t need cocaine to live for example. And again, she’s ignoring the role of restriction from food. If we’re denied things, especially when by starving, we are going to look like attic. subjects in the Minnesota semi starvation experiment ate food out of bins. But the problem isn’t that food is like heroin. The problem is that people will seek out food by any means possible in periods of severe deprivation. And again, this is why food addiction isn’t listed in the DSM five under substance abuse disorder with a palpable air of Glee. Susan then brings out what she seriously believes are the big guns in proving the so called Reality of food addiction. Using the dazzling language of neuroscience, she claims that the brains of drug addicts show a dopamine down regulation. So that means, of course, that over time, our brains dopamine or reward responses to drugs, such as cocaine show a reduction in reward. So this dopamine down regulation explains part of the reason people need to use more and more cocaine for example, in order to get high, she then displays a set of three PET scans. So three brain scans, comparing what she labels a so called normal brain, ie a thin one showing a healthy dopamine response. And this is presented next to a cocaine addicted brain and a brain which is labeled obese. The idea with a PET scan is that they light up and the areas are more red when an area of the brain is being stimulated. But because the images in the book are in black and white, it’s quite tricky to determine color differences, but you can kind of make out that it looks like the cocaine brain and the fat people’s brain seems to be lining up less in comparison to the thin brain. Unbelievably, there’s no reference given for this image, I had to google search it and I ended up finding out that her big gun is just a horribly Limp Biscuit. First of all, I found that the image she’s using seems to come from a website brain on sugar. It’s not a scientific study, it seems that a lot of people from the sugar is poison community are also reusing this image quite frequently. And all of them very maddeningly don’t have any references. So I dug around my friends for way too long on the internet. And it turns out that these three braids aren’t even from the same paper, I first found the scans comparing the so called normal brain with the obese brain in a paper from 2001. And in this article, they compare the 10 brains of people with a BMI over 50 with 10 in people’s brain and looked at the differences in dopamine responses. And of course, there was no controlling in this study for eating disorders or chronic dieting or anything like that. It was like literally just people’s brains and their brains. And I don’t know about you, but I find the assumption that a larger body is itself evidence of food addiction to be pretty offensive. When you look at the results in color, there’s not a dramatic difference, the center brains are showing more red. It’s nothing to write home about. After a lot more searching like way too much time, I think I found the PET scan of the cocaine brain. And it’s from a different paper from 1997 From the same set of researchers. And this paper shows a scan from one person who is addicted to cocaine demonstrating a blunted dopamine response. So I can’t believe she’s done this. It’s just so unheard of, especially in a scientists book, what a patch job, you can’t take PET scans from completely different studies and then compare them and not even reference it and then not even tell people what you’ve done. But rather the facts get in the way of this good story. So in the book, she claims that the people’s brains show, quote, the same blunted and muted dopamine response as the cocaine addicted brain, unquote. But I don’t know about that, because I put all three brains together in real life in color. And it’s pretty clear that the cocaine brain does have less of a dopamine response to the thin brain from the other study, and the fat person’s brain is still a lot more red than the cocaine brain. So her claim that it’s the same blunted dopamine response is just it’s wrong. It’s disgraceful. It’s misleading. It’s not a strawman argument, or a deflecting tactic. It’s pure bullshit. She continues to bullshit, quote, a neuroscientist looking at neurological changes associated with excess food consumption would say there’s food addiction right there. It’s not confusing and quote, well, I guess it’s not confusing, especially if you literally lie to make your point. I don’t know about you, but I am unconvinced by all of this brain imaging stuff and I am not alone. In 2018 in the journal neuro psycho To pharmacology or vegetarian, Kenny reviewed all the evidence on food addiction in regards to this neuro imaging stuff, and here’s exactly what they said, quote, there remains no convincing demonstration in humans that such neurobiological changes do indeed underlie these food addiction behaviors, we should say specifically altered structural and functional patterns in key nodes of the mesa limbic dopamine system in groups of individuals who exhibit food addiction behaviors. And early studies suggested that this was indeed the case with reduced striatal dopamine receptor density in severely obese people. But this finding, which is frequently cited in unqualified support for the food addiction model of obesity has not been replicated, and has been succeeded by several studies, which do not find such differences. And then I give three references. reviewing the literature some five years ago, I and colleagues suggested that the existing functional magnetic resonance imaging and positron emission tomography studies should not be used as a basis for making claims about food addiction. Reviewing the field now, there is no more support for food addiction from human neuro imaging literature than there was then indeed, there is less, and quote. So that is a fancy way of calling bullshit on this. They are also mentioning that 2001 Fat brain paper there and they’re saying that inspire the food addiction community, sharing this image all over the place again, and again, the actual science has moved on. And this one study was never replicated. So it’s basically all bullshit. Completely undeterred by facts like this. Susan goes on to claim again, with no references that another apparent hallmark of addiction in the brain is cue reactivity, which is basically when you get excited when you see things that remind you of food. So like signs for markers and stuff like that, again, this cue reactivity, if it’s real, is pretty much better explained by restriction, not addiction. This is not news. And that’s literally it from Susan, in terms of her apparent proof that food addiction is real, outdated brain imaging scans and starved brains getting excited about food. I don’t know about you, I’m not sold. She then moves on to discuss how food addicts show quote, cognitive impairment, and this section gets offensive real quick. She says, quote, the forms of cognitive impairment that go along with food addiction, or less many justice, alcoholics show impaired inhibition when it comes to alcohol. food addicts show impaired inhibition when it comes to food. The prefrontal cortex, which is the executive decision maker assisting with impulse control is blunted, leading to more impulsivity and less control. So once again, we have no references event to support her claim. But in the world of eating disorders, this whole idea of impulse control is much better explained as an understandable response to restriction. We’re not supposed to control access to food when we’re starving people who can do this have anorexia, extreme restrictive eating disorders, like anorexia have the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses, they are not something to aspire to. You might be starting to wonder how researchers in this area even define like what is a food addict? Well, the most common way they do this is to use a questionnaire called the Yale food addiction scale. Basically, this takes the DSM five substance use disorder criteria, and then applies them to food. Remember that the DSM doesn’t include food addiction as a thing. So this whole measure is quite a blatant grab for legitimacy in the absence of any kind of scientific support. Just because this has the name Yale in the title doesn’t mean it’s legit. Okay? But not surprisingly, the scale has massive overlaps with actual eating disorder questionnaires. So it’s very existence for me is a bit of an embarrassment. But let’s keep this in mind because Susan piers Thompson then says, quote, other studies have shown deficits in memory and attention. And miraculously, he she finally gives us a reference which of course, I had to go and check out the paper was from 2020. It’s not a neuro psychological examination of cognitive function. It’s an online survey, which uses the Yale food addiction scale to first define people as food addicts, and then they got people to fill in a 16 item eating disorder impairment questionnaire, five of those questions, asked about things like finding it hard to concentrate or feeling absent minded. The study ended up finding a pretty weak connection between impairments and food addiction But of course, all this is much better explained again as an eating disorder. It’s hardly convincing evidence. One study with five questions is hardly evidence of neuro psychological deficit. It’s so irritating because the way she’s written it implies that this was a proper study of memory and attention. But it gets worse. Quote, one study showed that early life exposure to processed foods is associated with lifelong deficits in both learning and memory, unquote. Well, I looked up this study, it was on 25 kids with so called food addiction, and they compared them to a group of non addictive kids on a series of neuro psych tests. So this is a one time assessment. So literally, no predictions about lifelong impairment were even being studied. It was a snapshot. And here’s what they found, quote, group comparisons did not show significant differences on neuro psychological task performances, participants from both groups showed similar performance on tasks assessing sustained attention and executive functioning. It is possible to think that food addiction symptoms in adolescence are not clearly accompanied with a specific pattern of cognitive difficulties that can be captured by neuro psychological tasks. And just to hammer home the point they conclude here saying, quote, We cannot actually conclude that cognitive difficulties are implied in the emergence of food addiction symptoms, unquote. So here we are, again, catching Susan piers Thompson out with an out and out lie. This is an outrageous misrepresentation of the science. I personally, I can’t believe this book got published, like how on earth did simple fact checking not happen here? Is everyone that hungry that they can’t find stuff out. That’s maddening. So, what else is in this horror show of a book? I mean, how long did I have to go on about chapter two? Remember when Dr. Sandra amate said that, in her opinion, food addiction models are basically repackaged binge eating disorder. This book does a great job of demonstrating that it is no words for it’s fucking depressing. She introduces us to what she calls the cycle of relapse, where she seriously just admits that restriction leads to binging. But she glosses over the role of restriction, and blames allegedly addictive food as the problem. Now, the cycle of relapse is absolutely a thing when we’re trying to white knuckle weight loss. I call it the diet trap, where basically we start off hating our bodies thinking we need to lose weight. We spend our lives trying to white knuckle restrictive diets, we can’t stick to them, we bust we binge, we feel guilty, we blame ourselves and then we go back to the start. And instead of naming this as a very typical disordered eating pattern, which comes from a restriction, or presenting science facts or evidence to back up the cycle of relapse, there’s actually tons that it wouldn’t have been difficult to pop in some references, especially with regards to how many people just can’t stick to diet. But she doesn’t do that. She just talks about her own experience, and it’s nothing short of harrowing. So we talked a bit about her early life in part one. So here she’s talking about when she did her postdoc research. She moved to Sydney, away from all of her food Addicts Anonymous buddies and her dedication to endless food restriction, understandably, wobbled, it’s not surprising when you think about how stressful a move would have been, and how much pressure she would have been on doing postdoc work. Eating disorders tend to get worse in periods of stress. At the time, she was binging a lot and spending a lot of money on binge foods. Again, this is really common. And of course, the stress from that financial pressure made it worse. She describes how her husband took away her credit cards because they couldn’t afford her binging. So she began to binge eat by mixing up flour, sugar and butter, and then eating it all mushed together. I’ve often wondered while reading Susan piers Thompson stuff why the flour thing like the allegations about sugar being addictive or controversial and silly, but at least they’re discussed in some research but flour has seriously never been shown even in the Shammi addiction literature to be a food addiction. rat model studies most often cite high sugar or high fat diets as allegedly addictive. Now it makes sense. Susan has personal experience of eating flour, sugar and butter as a binge food. Even these extreme binges, and not as she claims evidence of food addiction, they’re evidence of just how extreme an eating disorder can get. People with eating disorders only binge on things like this if they’re very food insecure or very, very deprived. I’ve had people who binge on grapes, lettuce leaves and carrots. Desperate behavior has nothing to do with the so called addictive qualities of flower for example, she was just suffering but obviously with This binge eating her weight increase, and she’s legitimately terrified of weight gain. There’s an awful moment in the book where she says to herself that if she got, quote unquote abstinent again, and then had thoughts about eating off the plan, that she would promise herself that she’d go jump off the Golden Gate Bridge went, that is just a rock bottom moment right there. So she goes back to the abstinence model, she loses weight. And then after a few years, there’s a there’s an awful section, where she talks about becoming aware that she might be, quote, subtly modeling unhealthy messages to her three daughters because of all of her restriction and weighing foods and not eating with the kids and generally being completely obsessed. So she buys an Ellen Sattar book on Intuitive Eating principles. And noticed when she tried to do it, of course, that she just wanted to eat a lot of food, and her weight went up. And so she gave up intuitive eating after 10 weeks and went back to severe restriction. This poor woman clearly needed therapy. She’s read a book by Ellen SATA, who does Intuitive Eating skills for families. It’s not a book designed for people in the depths of an eating disorder. I’m not surprised that Susan felt out of control and scared. I’m not surprised that she went back to her restrictive eating disorder. But it’s pretty terrible how she’s deceptively depicting intuitive eating. As a therapist. For people with really severe eating disorders. There’s no way we’d be looking at intuitive eating right off the bat, much more structure and help is needed to help people safely let go of restriction. I really hope that people listening understand that therapy for disordered eating will never leave you flailing in the way that she’s depicting here. It’s a real shame Susan piers Thompson has never sought proper help for this eating disorder. As a clinical psychologist who works every day with people with eating disorders, this entire chapter just screams of someone with a severe restrictive eating disorder, and has just tried to fix her eating disorder with more restriction. But it’s out of this bin fire of personal experience that Susan piers Thompson developed her resume system of dealing with what she calls relapses. And with what she hilariously calls a, quote, modicum of daily effort, you can maintain bright line eating without relapsing. She says that there’s three elements in the book, which apparently will help us stick to everlasting restriction. The first she calls the resume reframe. And then there’s the resume system, which is all about up leveling your choices around food behaviors, and your support. And then there’s this thing called Hearts work. So let’s zoom in and see what these all mean. So the raise ovary frame is essentially a very wild set of claims about how people tend to be good for a while on the bright line eating plan. But then they wobble and break the rules. Basically, she’s talking about the diet cycle, but she’s telling people to apparently reframe this by accepting that there will be slides and breaks and busts. But somehow people can smooth out the big crashes into smaller waves, which are apparently going to keep people away from what he calls the danger and distraction zone. People are supposed to calm down when they notice a lapse into eating off the plan. So the overall message in this bit seems to be that lapses from extreme restriction are normal. They’re not supposed to panic. And somehow this is supposed to break the pattern of white knuckling restriction and binging that decades of weight science research has established is the overwhelming response to ongoing restriction. A number of published scientific studies presented to back up her reasoning Rephaim fame is Neil. I resume system has three pillars, which include food behaviors, what she calls actions, and social support. There’s a chapter on age, which are heavy on anecdotes and very light on science. Our system overall is just a list of things that she’s done. It’s an evidence based approach to anything is basically a set of rules on how to have a more restrictive eating disorder. The third chapter particularly is a guide on how to get restrictive. She stops short, thankfully, of telling people to tape up their mouths, but many of the directions and not too far from that at all. I had to put this book down for a few days after reading this bit. I don’t even have an eating disorder and I was massively triggered. I can’t imagine the impact on someone struggling but it’s just so dark. There’s a very irresponsible section in there where to my horror, she talks about eating disorders, instead of telling people to get professional help, which is what any responsible health professional should do. She says that if you have an eating disorder, it’s fine to focus on getting the weight off She only recommends getting help for an eating disorder if weight loss is not happening. It’s maddening. And then confusingly straight after this bit, she says that if you do have binge eating disorder or bulimia quote in the mix, you might want to address the eating disorder before the food addiction. But it still seems that she’s encouraging people to still eat according to the bright line rules. So presumably, that would still mean trying to do eating disorder recovery and avoiding all sugar and flour, which is crazy. I also noticed too, that she doesn’t mention anorexia anywhere in this book, which is, I think quite telling, the whole section is a horrible can of worms inside a building fire. And by now my brain is hurting. A chapter on actions is a rambling set of habit changing stuff, which I think she’s ripped off from self help books like atomic habits, listened to the books could kill podcast for an excellent review of that, by the way. So basically, she’s lifting from a random set of books that she’s read. It’s not surprising because her entire brightline Empire has been lifted from the free food addiction communities like if a It’s not logical, it jumps all over the place. It’s a very scattered raid. She’s clearly a huge fan of routines, checklists and tracking. By the end of this chapter, every moment of your entire life will be monitored, including the length and veracity of your way, everything gets graded on a Likert scale. And you’ll be keeping roughly 530 journals, you’re instructed to write down everything you’re going to eat the next day, and then you have to tell someone else who will witness your commitment. It is so regimented and meticulously over planned. As an eating disorder therapist, I often see people in the depths of restriction displaying this rigid attention to detail. It’s a sign of physiological starvation and not something to encourage the privilege of her routine to life also drips off the page with her structured morning routines, including meditating and gratitude practice. I guess with all those millions, you can devote your entire existence to white knuckling control over your food and life like this, but my God, it’s so depressing. The last pillar over the resume system is support in between making lists and weighing out your food. You’re also told to call multiple other bright liners every day getting and giving support to make sure the restriction keeps on happening. On top of that there’s a weekly group meeting again to hold everyone accountable. I mean, seriously, who has the time for this. So in a nutshell, resuming is just completely reasonable. In order to smooth out the crash and burn cycle. All you need to do is meticulously pre plan out your tiny little amounts of food, write everything down, weigh and measure your food aid only that food, continuously scrutinize yourself for signs of interest in food. Bring 500 people a day to tell them about your food. Meditate, right more or less, do a daily journal get enough sleep. Don’t stress too much. Be grateful and keep giving Susan piers Thompson money, just a modicum of daily effort. Indeed, this book is a literal guide on how to get better at having an eating disorder. It uses a lot of eating disorder, recovery language, so we hear words like relapse and healthy self. And instead of recovery from the eating disorder being the goal, the goal is flipped to become having a more restrictive eating disorder. It’s whacked. And as if things can’t get any worse. At the end of it chapter we encounter the wisdom of her co author, a chap called Everett Constantine is a coach and his parts work. Susan piers Thompson says that even if you’re doing all of the reframing and all the resuming quote, if those are the only tools you have, in my experience, the problem is you won’t use them. At least not consistently, inner resistance will crop up and create some form of self sabotage. That’s where the third element comes in. Unquote. Oh, my goodness. So as if we’re not already completely exhausted, we have more work to do. So ever and his parts isn’t what it sounds like. Lol, you dirty minded listeners. Everett is a life coach who apparently helped Susan piers Thompson to stop eating salami. Again mines out of the data people. Essentially parts work is a type of therapy that was developed in the 1980s. It’s called internal family systems therapy or ifs ifs looks at the inside of our mind as like an internal family with different members or parts who want to do different things and play different roles. So in eating disorder work, there’s a part of ourselves that wants to be thin part of ourselves that wants to be in recovery, etc, etc. The core self sometimes referred to as the healthy self is the bit that wants recovery. I myself use parts work quite a lot as it helps people in eating disorder work identity fie and separate themselves from the eating disorder. A therapist called Richard Schwartz developed the approach in his work with eating disorders. On his website. He says, quote, I’m good at helping people with the parts of them that make not eight parts work is powerful. But as you might have guessed, Everett has twisted parts work into supporting not recovery, but restriction itself ever even introduces himself by saying, Welcome to paths work, where we address getting our whole psyche aligned with our weight loss journey, or holy shit. In this twisted, sad little book, the healthy self is presented as someone who wants you to starve yourself. I cannot tell you how much this enrages me to see a valid and effective therapy technique being used not to cure eating disorders, but to strengthen their grip. Each chapter in resume ends with the deranged section from Everett which distorts perhaps work to serve the purpose of identifying with a restrictive eating disorder voice. It’s not only unethical to do this, but if we remember the neuroscience and basic physiology of restriction, this is insane. Because our bodies don’t want to shrink and they don’t give up on making is completely preoccupied with food. No matter how much parts work we do. But ever it blissfully paddles is completely incorrect idea that these people are struggling with restriction is because of some ridiculously mislabeled part and not a biologically stopped brain. It’s utterly disgraceful. In a book written by a neuroscientist quote from Everett. If your authentic self is running the show. bright line eating feels effortless. When bright line eating feels challenging, it’s because parts of you are getting activated and trying to interfere what is up bullshit Everett, he talks about a part called the food in dolger, which is accuses readers of surreptitiously eating addictive foods like flour or sugar or eating emotionally. Again, it’s misleading. Our preoccupation with food arises from a chronic restriction. It is balderdash to call something emotional eating even if emotions are present when someone is underfed. Everett calls himself a coach and his website says that he has a quote diverse background that spans technology, business, spirituality and psychology. But beyond a level three certificate in internal family systems, there’s no mental health qualifications. And look, he’s clearly not qualified to be anywhere near someone with an eating disorder. Everett is selling bright line eating themed retreats in Maui, which can cost up to $7,000. US for a week. People please don’t be like Everest. Okay, so that’s the book. It’s bound to make Susan piers Thompson a few million bucks. And it’s absolutely going to create and worsen eating disorders. Please go give this book a negative review on Amazon, we need to warn people of this. The bright line eating website has a new research publication which we have to talk about. It’s called bright line eating a two year follow up evaluation of a commercial telehealth weight loss program within an abstinence based food addiction framework, which was published in the Journal of Nutrition and weight loss in 2021. So this study builds on the previous and only published study on bright line eating which we dissected in part one. And because it’s built on that data, the first thing I notice is that there’s been a massive drop in the number of participants. So if you recall from part one that they had about 10,000 people enrolled in their boot camp, and they ended up with a final sample of about five and a half 1000 people. But in the updated long term paper, they don’t give us this background. They just report that they used a sample of 905 people enrolled in the follow up program that happened after bootcamp. They followed these people up with online surveys for two years, by which time there was only 238 people responding by not revealing the dropouts, they make their program results of more plausible, even if we take it from the baseline surveys from the 10,000 people by two years follow up. We’re now down to 238 people. This is 2.4% of people. And this for me pretty much matches what we know in weight loss research, where there does tend to be a really small minority of people who can lose weight and pretty much keep white knuckling trying to keep it off. I mean, they make it pretty much a full time job and it tends to come at great psychological cost and in my opinion, it reflects an active restrictive eating disorder which is what my tea It was talking about, essentially people who lose a lot of weight and keep it off what I call statistical unicorns, because they’re extremely rare. The vast majority of people in this case, 97.5%, didn’t have that experience of long lasting, massive weight loss. So please don’t feel bad if you can’t do it, because in my opinion, those unicorns and not okay, they have restrictive eating disorders. So the majority of people in this long term study were part of the bright lifer program, where they continue to pay Susan to do what they call ongoing support through an online community online, special interest groups, group coaching calls and continued education. So these are the people doing all of that really difficult, hard work that the resume book details are really grim reality of logging, accountability and extreme restriction. Oh, and of course, the parts work. So in this study, again, mostly they’re white ladies in their mid mid 50s, average BMI around 33. So what happened to these unicorns two years in, in terms of weight loss, it says on average, they lost about 8% of their starting body weight after the boot camp at eight weeks, and then two years, the weight loss was 14%. Even in this small sample, you can also see a trend to weight going up again at the two year mark. But of course, this is where the follow up stops, even though they’ve have the data there for longer term. So even with that this is massive reported weight loss. It’s way bigger weight loss than all behavioral weight loss studies ever. And this alerts my bullshit detector, as well as my concerned health professional detector. Because this is either bullshit. It is, after all, just a self reported survey, it’s very easy for people to literally phone it in. But my biggest concern is these women’s mental health. I have seen weight losses of this magnitude in my work as an eating disorder psychologist, and people who lose this amount of weight and not okay, they tend to be really unwell. There’s a concerning statistic reported that women who were thin to begin with were reporting losses of 9% of their body weight. This should be a red flag for an eating disorder, not cause for celebration. As I read this study, I kept thinking about Tina, she would have appeared here as a bright line eating success story, but as we heard, the real picture was just scary. So there we have it, folks. A published study in a pretty low rent journal evidence to demonstrate basically the unicorns are not okay. Right. So to close off this epic series on the dark underworld of bright line eating, I have to talk about a video she’s done, where she’s responding to 2021 Youtube video where a dietitian and food blogger called Abby sharp, reviewed bright line eating with a tagline, this is inhumane. I’ll put a link to this YouTube video in the show notes. But heads up, it’s a sponsored video. So she does start it’s quite weird with an ad for a protein bar. And she does use the O word without critique. So I don’t think she’s 100% Anti diet, but it’s not awful. But just if you go to watch it, you know, be warned, but it’s really good. So in it, she’s questioning the veracity of food addiction models, highlighting the reality that what we’re talking about here is just eating disorders, and saying that people are being encouraged to restrict rather than get help. She’s expressing valid concerns about the extremity of the restriction that’s recommended, and reveals some of the dodgiest sides of the business. For example, Abby went in as a potential customer and did the food susceptibility quiz and deliberately responded as if she was in the depths of binge eating disorder. Instead of being directed to get some help. Abby received a promo video from Susan piers Thompson encouraging her to buy the program. And then Abby went back in did the same quiz again, but this time answered, as if she had no issues with food at all, and received exactly the same set of promo videos. Scientific indeed, her hobby has done a great job communicating the concerns about bright line eating, and it seems it didn’t go down well. So in 2022, Susan piers Thompson released her own 30 minute blog titled, harsh criticisms of bright line eating and why they’re scientifically unfounded. In it, we meet a very rattled looking Susan piers Thompson, who attempts to respond to what she says is a woefully uninformed critique of her business empire quote, God bless her, this nutritionist just ripping me and bright line eating to shreds ripping us to shreds and getting a lot of stuff wrong and doing a pretty intentional like, she like tried really hard to like know what she was talking about, but just totally missing the point. And she was mean like really made a but it’s not clear to me what point Abby was missing. From what I can discern. There’s one person who keeps dodging the point and that Susan piers Thompson, rather than using this blog to address the valid criticisms of the food addiction model raised by Abby, she just uses the intuitive Aiders and bad straw man argument to misrepresent why there’s pushback. So she’s again, blaming these fictitious 1970s eating disorder treatment providers. And as proof that food addiction is real. She brings up the same stuff that she did that we’ve just been through from the infamous chapter two of her book. So those really shaky arguments about dopamine down regulation, cue reactivity, cognitive deficits, and then she tells viewers to go buy her book to learn more. There’s quite an embarrassing moment where Susan literally holds up to camera to read textbooks on food addiction, as additional evidence that food addiction is a thing. Well, obviously there are people out there who believe in it. And yes, these books do exist. But just because a book exists doesn’t mean that it’s mainstream accepted science. My dad has about 12 books on why climate change isn’t real. So in terms of responding to Abby, that’s it. So she never addresses the central and valid scientific critique of food addiction. She is slippery as an eel. Susan piers Thompson is quite charismatic and this is on full display. In this vlog. She is a forceful presence, speaking with confidence, and a disarming crooked grin. Us a direct, very intense stare. Many cult leaders have this charismatic charm. I found it disconcerting. cult leaders also maintain control by using a lot of us and then language. So terms like they don’t understand. They’re not like us. And Susan is using this tactic repeatedly, quote, they don’t have a brain that does these, one could do two things. And we do. One of the most disturbing parts of the vlog was when she spoke about how Abby raised Susan’s recommendation to put tape on your mouth to stop you eating when preparing meals. And this was Abby just reading an actual experience of a bright liner who had written into Abby describing how impacted she’d been on this destructive group. Susan is terrifically defensive here. And you can see the Polish really falling off her. She laughs nervously says, gosh, did I even say that gobbles a bit starts to talk about amoebas and the primordial slime. And then she basically doubles back down on this horribly disturbing advice is what she says. So now, the tape on Speaker 2 47:45 the mouth. How could I ever have suggested that anyone put tape on there? First of all, I didn’t. I said that I in the early days, put tape on my mouth. And I didn’t do it every day, I did it around a certain stretch of time where I was really powerless, like I was in the kitchen, wanting to not eat until I got to the table and I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do it. And so for a little bit, I gave myself fat support for me, at that time in my life was nobody judging me in the house. It felt like an act of self love. It was like sweetie, I’m just gonna give you a little bit of ease here. So you can stop your cookie trying to cook dinner. And I’m just gonna give you this barrier just so you can make it to the table without eating half a meal, right? I needed to develop response inhibition. It is chilling Louise Adams 48:37 start to mislabel such disordered behavior as an act of self love. And then of course, to follow it up with neuroscience language dazzling using authoritative language. And you know this phrase response inhibition, couching it in sparkley language doesn’t make it okay. Your wiring could be defended as response inhibition, so called electric shocks when you go to touch a food, it doesn’t make it okay. Basically, she’s science dazzling to cover up a really seriously disordered behavior. She closes her blog by railing against what she calls those inflamed harsh critics of bright line eating and says, quote, If I have one request, it’s don’t search them out and watch their stuff. That’s right. She’s literally ordering her followers not to go and find out the valid critiques of bright line eating. I mean, what a way to sound like a real cult leader. She doesn’t want her people to find out the legitimate criticisms from mainstream science. She doesn’t want people to find out there’s gaping holes in the theories, which is never addressed. She doesn’t want people to go and get help telling people not to do this. It just reeks of a very shaky defensiveness on her part. I think she knows that if people find out that the whole thing is because of restriction and that food addiction is actually an eating disorder which requires trade Treatment not to strengthen restriction but to re nourish bodies and brains, she’ll lose money. But the range red herring reason she gives to cover up. This is rankings. So believe it or not, she says that if anyone goes to watch Abby’s video, Abby’s rankings will go up. And she wants to protect her own platform. So she’s telling her followers that her platform is bigger than Abby’s and she wants to keep it that way. The only problem here is that Abby’s video has had 160,000 views and there’s almost 1500 comments on the video, we can see a lot of people talking about the harms that befell them on this program. Whereas Susan Peirce Thompson’s vlog has only had 34,000 views. Maybe she doesn’t want her followers to know this either. There’s something quite Trumpian about the way she talks about the size of her crowd. Susan does acknowledge that the criticisms are well researched, and she doesn’t want this actual knowledge to appear at the top of searches for bright line eating. So my lovely listeners, I encourage you to please amplify this podcast, amplify Abby’s critique and a whole list of other people who are speaking out in defensive science and against this kind of bright line eating stuff because this nonsense has to stop before more people get hurt. In closing her vlog sounding just more terrifically like a cult leader by the second she tells her followers to love the naysayers and ends it with a super creepy, I love you. Oh my brain. Okay, so that is a wrap. On this epic deep dive down the darkest rabbit hole of Susan Peirce Thompson and her bright line eating Empire who knows what will happen next, but ideally hope this this stops soon. It is indescribably cruel to target people suffering with binge eating disorder and sell them a program that more deeply entrenches disordered eating and body scrutiny. Putting your pain customers on diet so restrictive that they are then bound to experience even more intense psychological and physiological reactions, and then to mislabeled the whole thing as an addiction of wackadoodle brains. They have perfectly normal brains responding to an unusual degree of deprivation, and they need help, not a predator like Susan Peirce Thompson. Right. That’s it for me now. Thank you for bearing with me through that. And to anyone who’s been wrapped up in this culty bullshit. I hope that these episodes help you to understand that help is out there. Do not try to restrict your way out of an eating disorder. Find a therapist, a dietician, find someone and start the process of actual recovery. I promise you that it’s possible to be happy, not striving to be thin, and truly free. Thanks, everyone for being a listener. I’ll be back next week with more steaming diet culture bullshit. In the meantime, take care. Trust your body, think critically. push back against diet, culture, and untrap from the crap!


The “Brain on sugar” website where Susan may have sourced her picture for the Rezoom book (which appears on p.34)

The ‘cocaine brain’ study from 1997

The black & white version of the brains vs in-colour versions: