I’m feeling reflective today because I’m pondering day 500 of my recovery, and also because Susan put out a vlog today about why recipes are not part of the Bright Line Eating program, and I wanted to respond to that a little bit by talking about my own journey.
As you may or many not know, I spent several months in communication with Susan and the BLE team trying to find a point of collaboration about a cookbook, and for the reasons that she shares in her vlog today, obviously that didn’t pan out. It feels important to share that I completely understand and deeply respect their decision to not include recipes (and to discourage them) as part of the BLE program.
But, I see things a little differently too.
Bright Line Eating is Susan’s program, and it’s her vision, and I really do agree with her that recipes should not be a focus in Bright Line Eating. That is exactly why I removed all explicit references to Bright Line Eating in my website, cookbook, and all other content of mine. Because while many of the recipes I share with you all are compliant with BLE and adhere to the food plan, they aren’t in the true spirit of Susan’s program, and I recognize that. Katie’s Bright Kitchen is not a site about how to do Bright Line Eating, it’s a site full of sugar and flour free recipes, broken down according to food categories, with occasional ramblings and musings about my own Bright Line Eating journey.
Personally, I wholeheartedly and proudly claim the title of being a Bright Line Eater. I lost all my excess weight through Susan’s program and am living happy, thin, and free 500 days later. But, my program doesn’t look exactly like Susans anymore.
But my program looked exactly like Susan’s at the beginning, and more importantly it needed to.
When I discovered BLE I was unhappy, food-obsessed, and overweight, and Susan’s videos were a beacon of clarity in the confusing, depressing, overwhelming, food-crazy world. I hopped into a boot camp and never looked back. At the time, letting go of recipes and excitement around my food was a necessary part of my recovery journey.
But as I continued to eat this way, my food began to get more colorful again. The thing that Susans vlog, and the perspective and hindsight has helped me realize, is that I seem to cycle between wanting really simple food and more exciting food, depending on what’s going on in my life.
I completely surrendered at the beginning of my boot camp, and my food was very simple for a long time. And it was deliciously simple. I re-fell-in-love with berries, bananas, peaches, unsweetened yogurt, oatmeal, roasted vegetables, tahini, kale, beans, and every other whole, real food out there. And I was hungry, and I had cravings, and I was shedding weight, and I was growing into this new identity and lifestyle, and some days were hard, and I went to bed at 8:30 sometimes so I wouldn’t eat off my plan, and I drank lots of tea, and I trusted the process… but I digress.
In the weight loss phase, the simplicity was colorful and exciting because it was new for me, and so was losing weight and settling into this new identity. Around the time that I landed maintenance however, I went through a period where I was unhappy and stressed in my job and I found myself wanting to turn to food for comfort. During that period, focusing more on my food in the form of bright line recipes prevented me from binging to soothe the stressful events in my life.
But now, 500 days later, I’ve made a career switch, I am thoroughly enjoying my life and my relationships and living life in full color again. So guess what’s happened to my food?
Have you noticed that I’ve barely posted any recipes in the past few months? That’s because I eat the same oatmeal and lunches every day and make an occasional interesting dinner if I feel randomly inspired. But at the moment, simple is satisfying.
The pattern seems to be that I find myself disinterested in food or recipes when my life is vibrant and interesting, and when my life gets a little grey, I look to my food to provide a little bit more color.
Where I think I disagree with Susan is that for some of us (but not all of us), this can be perfectly fine.
If having a repertoire of “sexy” BLE recipes keeps us from turning to sugar and flour when we feel bored, or unhappy, or want to comfort ourselves with food, honestly I don’t see the problem. If it’s possible to find a little bit of comfort in food to take that edge off without losing control of our food or spiraling into food obsession, then why the heck not?
That said, I recognize that not everyone has this luxury. This may be a dance that is only possible for us mid-rangers on the susceptibility scale. I honestly don’t know. I know that I provide a resource that is counter to Susan’s wishes and consumed by many people in her community, and I struggle with that sometimes and worry that it does accidental harm.
But there is a stronger part of me that knows that there is a subset of Bright Line Eating that needs and can successfully use this kind of a resource in a way that does not detract from our ability to live our lives in full color, but actually helps us shine brighter. I don’t know that Susan would agree with that statement, but I know that I am one of those people and so I will continue to lovingly, and respectfully disagree with her about the role that recipes can play in a Bright Line Eating journey. Not everyone’s journey, but some of our journeys.
I think that the brilliant thing about Bright Line Eating as compared to a 12-step program, is that it gives us the tools and support to figure out for ourselves what our program needs to look like in order to best serve us.
For some people, their program needs to look like complete surrender, complete food neutrality, simple meals, and no recipes, ever. For others like myself, a program might need to include some recipes or resources to have colorful, compliant food once in a while, if that means avoiding a feeling of deprivation and deterring potential binges. The responsibility is on us to figure out what kind of program we need to work, and eventually, to customize our own bright lines where we need them to support our own recovery.
I can say now with confidence, 500 days in, that I am settled into a lifestyle that serves me well and supports me in living truly happy, thin, and free. And for me, that lifestyle has room for recipes, and it also has room for simple meals. There are seasons when my food is more exciting than others, and that’s okay. And honestly, I really do prefer simple meals most of the time.
My sincere hope and wish for the beautiful BLE community is that everyone will eventually be able to access their own inner wisdom to find what serves them, and be able to hold space and love for people who might work their programs a little differently.
And, please know that if I’m not posting a lot on my site, that most likely means I’m busy living a colorful life and being happy, thin, and free! ❤
What are your thoughts on Susan’s vlog today and this rich and controversial topic?