January 2019 BLOG POST
Book Review: Bright Line Eating: The Science of Living Happy, Thin & Free by Susan Peirce Thompson Ph.D.
I often get asked what weight loss books I recommend to patients, and before last year, I really did not have any. The plethora of weight loss, nutrition, and diet books is so extensive that it is difficult to determine which one is even worth purchasing. My goal with these book reviews is to give you some feedback on books written by people with scientific knowledge on the subject at hand. I also sought out books from which most people could learn something, even if they do not completely agree with the author’s approach.
First up: Bright Line Eating: The Science of Living Happy, Thin and Free by Dr. Susan Peirce Thompson. I found this book after reading a few excerpts from her blog posts. I am very happy that this was my first book to review since I found it extremely educational and well written. Thompson does a wonderful job blending her individual experiences with weight loss and leading weight loss boot camps with a wide variety of scientific studies and observations to explain how our behaviors and thoughts are influenced by our food choices, namely sugar and wheat.
The beginning of the book is an in-depth look at the brain and how it is impacted by our diets. I learned a lot about the specifics of how hormones, like leptin and insulin, interact without hunger signals and how these can be very distorted by a high intake of sugar and wheat. The result of the Western style of eating causes a huge increase in the amount of dopamine produced, which creates an addiction to sugar and wheat, something many of my patients report struggling with on a daily basis. Dr. Thompson expertly explains this complex relationship between food, hormones, and neurotransmitters and how it results in food-seeking behaviors. Dr. Thompson also shines a bright light on how the lack of addressing and correcting this relationship accounts for why many dieters fail to lose weight and keep it off long term.
The second part of the book explains how to fix this situation and change our diets, and resulting behaviors, to lose weight and keep it off for good. While the approach of eliminating all added sugars and wheat, along with only eating three meals and no snacks each day and following very strict portion guidelines, may seem extreme to some, Dr. Thompson has the success stories and research to support her approach. Each chapter ends with a case study of an individual who has gone through her boot camp and experienced long-standing, positive results. The book also includes steps to take on a daily basis to make changes throughout your life and daily routine to support the implementation of the plan and ensure your results are sustained for a lifetime.
I agree with the author’s approach and recommendations and have long thought we need to address food like we do with all other forms of addiction, where complete abstinence from detrimental substances is the best solution for long term success. I also believe that there are other, healthy ways to lose weight, and while Dr. Thompson’s methods may be too aggressive for some, it is a very viable approach for those who have lost weight only to gain it back multiple times. I would advise against reading this book for a “jump start” or for fast results and would only recommend a patient read this and follow through with it if they are looking to really change their lifestyles and diet for a lifetime.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who has struggled with weight loss throughout their life and feels powerless over their food choices, hunger, and cravings. I learned a great deal for this book and will use the information personally and professionally moving forward.