The Minimalist Diet Diaries, Day 2

Week 1: Food Philosophies

Day 2: Bright Line Eating

I don’t know how many people have heard of Bright Line Eating. I think I actually found Susan Pierce Thompson’s 1st book at my mom’s house this summer, but I’m not even sure it was the same thing.

Anyway. I “found” Susan Pierce Thompson from a sidebar ad at the online Mom Conference last October (2016), and I’ve really grown to like her over the last few months. I love her areas of study: she has a PhD in psychology with an emphasis in the neuroscience of food addiction, and she also studies willpower and what she calls the “willpower gap.” All of her experiences have led her to found a group/diet/lifestyle method called Bright Line Eating.

I’ve never thought about food in quite the way she describes it before. I particularly appreciate her teaching about the willpower gap, because it makes SO MUCH SENSE. Basically, we “wake up with willpower” in the morning: willpower is an actual, scientific “thing.” However, over the course of the day, our willpower is depleted, particularly by making hard decisions over and over again. When our willpower battery is “drained,” and we’re trying to make good food choices at dinner time…it’s not going to happen. Literally, our brains start to act against us. And while there are some things we can do to replenish our willpower, the best way to approach all of this is to BE PREPARED.

I remember being struck really hard when she talked about a scientific study that says we make something like 139 food-related choices a day. Don’t quote me on that number (139), but in that moment, I realized WHY I’ve been so stressed about feeding my family. As a mother, I already knew it was overwhelming to try and plan 3+ meals a day for 5 people, every day, for even a week at a time. But then, Susan Pierce Thompson explained that we can “install” healthy habits into our lives that will allow our food choices to become automatic. She said “automaticity is magic.”

I had been listening to Michael Hyatt a lot, in a totally different field. He is a business coach, for lack of a better description, and he teaches that to be truly productive, we need to be clear on our priorities. We should essentially go through our to-do list, and eliminate anything that’s unnecessary. Then we should automate anything we can (by putting in place systems, especially electronic, automated sequences), and delegate the rest. Essentially, if we can eliminate, automate, and delegate, the things we’re not as good at or don’t have time for, we can focus all of our efforts on what we ARE good at, and our productivity will shoot through the roof.

Well, when Susan Pierce Thompson talked about making food AUTOMATIC, it made me so happy!! I realized that I didn’t have to totally freak out about if my food choices were “good enough.” What I really needed to do was just to MAKE THE CHOICES when I had willpower, and then trust myself to develop healthy habits to act on my choices.

I know I’m ranting now, but I’ve been trying to incorporate this into my diet, and it’s been SUPER helpful.

Susan Pierce Thompson goes on talk about Bright Lines: rules, or rather boundaries, that you just don’t cross. For her eating system, her 4 bright lines are: no flour, no sugar, 3 meals a day, and measure your food.

Some parts of me really want to jump into her system and just be done with it. But truth be told, I don’t want to give up all flour and all sugar for the rest of my life. I’m not obese, I’m not addicted to sugar and flour, and I love to experience new foods and flavors, which often involve sugar and flour. I’m all for greatly reducing my intake, but I don’t want to completely eliminate them.

I’ve been feeling guilty for not agreeing with everything she says. She has a lot of scientific evidence, and I totally understand the basis for what she’s doing. But deep down, the best way I can describe it is: it’s not for me.

I think I’ll be saying that a lot over the course of this week. I see a lot of good and interesting things among different diet plans and food philosophies, but I’m just too stubborn to follow someone else’s plan.

For today’s take away, there are 2 things I want to focus on:

  1. Keep food simple. Susan’s teachings on making food choices automatic are super useful. She talks about how she isn’t a slave to food any more: she just preps it, eats it, enjoys it, and then it’s DONE. That’s what I want! So, I will keep my food simple. If I want a more elaborate recipe, I HAVE TO PLAN IT. Including the time and space it will take to make it, and the mental effort to clean up afterwards.
  2. 3 meals a day. Well actually, I amend this to 3 meals and 1 snack a day. What this boils down to is that I need a schedule for meals, a rhythm for my body to appreciate. The more I stick to meals at 9, 12, and 6, and a snack at 3:30 (when M gets off the bus), the easier it is for me to make good choices. And a minimalist diet is about clearing out clutter. For me, clutter is endless grazing and a lack of routine.

I’m excited for tomorrow’s food philosophy: whole-food, plant-based eating. Stay tuned!

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