Today marks one month since I’ve been following Susan Pierce Thompson’s Bright Line Eating plan of eating 3 meals a day, with no snacks, as well as eliminating flour and sugar, and monitoring quantities. Instead of using a food scale – which she recommends – I’ve been on a more intuitive track, usually not eating more than my initial plate, though I have not committed to a strict rule.
(Full disclosure: I have not done her official Boot Camp, just followed the plan as she detailed it in her free video series and in her newsletter emails, which are fantastic).
Even without a strict rule around quantities, I have found that my desire to eat more than I need to feel initially satiated has decreased considerably. This nebulous grey area around the quantity issue has worked well for me, though I am aware that it might not work as well for others.
I believe it has worked well because, for me personally, keeping this aspect unregulated gives me a feeling of learning how to trust myself. And I’m more interested in cultivating a loving and trusting relationship with myself even than changing my brain chemistry, so for me, this feels like beating in the right bush.
That said, I did embark on this eating plan in order to build healthy habits that are automatic, that I can rely on for stability ~ and I believe I am slowly learning that the rewiring of brain chemistry around food and the rewiring of brain chemistry around friendliness toward oneself go hand in hand.
As a friend of mine and colleague in this field recently wrote to me regarding the path to healing from eating disorders, “it is not a straight and narrow road by any means, but one of growth, healing, and self-discovery nonetheless.”
The most important thing that I have gleaned so far, and that I want to impart to you is this: It Does Get Easier.
And, following an eating plan is helping it to get easier. Once I have something to work towards, like an orderly and supportive relationship with food, it becomes much easier to gauge how I’m doing in relation to my goal.
What gets measured gets managed, as they say.
That said, the food plan is not a substitute for self love.
I can use the food plan to inflict violence on myself if I am not careful, eliciting all kinds of guilt and shame. That is not what I’m here for.
Real love is unconditional. This applies to self-love. It seems obvious, but if we are to truly live this way, it means that the inner critic must be invited to the table and disarmed, and in order for them to put down their armor, they need to know that there is no war.
That’s where healing from eating disorder meets yoga meets transpersonal psychology and spiritual methodologies.
I am reminded once again that this is deep work that requires time and courage. But that does not mean we should give up just because we don’t know where to start.
Observing a food plan starts us at the ground level, teaches us about the places where we are still vulnerable (for instance, it became ever more clear to me, even though I had noticed this in more subtle ways before, that it is those relational situations in which I don’t know what to do in order to create peace, and I feel overwhelmed by the pain of conflict, that I feel the seemingly uncontrollable desire to eat. In this way, I run away from relational conflict and avoid solving it at the actual root, instead simply managing my immediate emotions in any way I know how. The trigger might be very different for you.).
The good news is that once we see the lay of the land, there’s no choice other than to do the work.
So in this way, exposing ourselves to a clearer picture of ourselves is a good place to start.
And I will say this: in the process of observing these guidelines, something interesting in the psychological/emotional realm has happened to me: I have become far more interested in solving the deeper emotional issues behind my compulsion to reach for more food, than in satisfying that compulsion. That means that when I feel the urge to eat, I get curious before I reach for food. This is a process that started long ago and has been greatly enhanced by Susan’s Bright Line Eating plan, and it’s becoming increasingly automatic.
I am really excited about this because, to me, this bears the marks of an actual organic healing process that leads to lasting change.
Namaste, and a kind road to you,