There is a famous quote in the world of football “Offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships.” The accuracy of this quote is often debated, but most experts agree that a good defense is just as important as a good offense. But even so, offense gets the most glory and attention.
The same is true when it comes to Bright Line Eating®.
The first thing most people want to know is what is, “What is on the food plan. What do I eat?”
Much less attention is given to defending yourself against eating things NOT on the plan. And while knowing what to eat will help immensely, protecting yourself from eating the wrong type and quantity of food is just as important.
So if you plan to do Bright Line Eating®, make sure that you implement a good food defense. This will make you less likely to violate your bright lines and more likely to lose weight and keep it off.
The first secret is to purge your home of everything you can which is not Bright Line Eating® compliant. Go through all of the food in your home and determine what is compliant and what is not. In many cases this will be obvious, but in some cases you may need to read the list of ingredients.
Then get rid of absolutely everything you can that isn’t allowed. If it’s unopened and not expired, feel free to donate it to your local food pantry. Otherwise, just throw it away. (If you’re like me, you’ll find some rather interesting items in the back of the freezer that should have been thrown away during the Reagan Administration.)
If the food you shouldn’t eat (which the Bright Line Eating® community calls “not my food” or NMF) isn’t in your house, you’re far less likely to eat it. This secret may seem obvious, but so many people don’t take this precautionary step. They just assume that they won’t give into temptation.
We are all weaker than we estimate. And even if you never end up eating the NMF, you are still draining extra energy from your will power. This is will power energy that could be better used elsewhere.
But what do you do with the NMFs that you can’t completely purge because of other people in your home?
That leads to our second secret.
To prearrange is to arrange or agree upon something in advance for a specific purpose. That is what you need to do with your kitchen. Your kitchen should be prearranged for the purpose of helping you stick to your bright lines.
For example, if you have to keep some NMF in your home because you live with other people, your best defense in this case is to prearrange food strategically. Research has shown that we are less likely to eat inconvenient foods and more likely to eat convenient foods. And research has also shown, that we are more likely to eat food we see than food we don’t see.
So use this to your advantage. NMFs that you must keep should be kept hidden and/or far away. For example, we moved all of our baking supplies and similar non-perishable NMF foods down into the basement.
If some of the NMFs must be kept in the refrigerator or freezer, then place them in the most inconvenient sections possible. And, place them in separate containers so they are not visible when you open the refrigerator.
And the reverse is also true. Keep your Bright Line Eating® food and drink options front and center in the refrigerator and pantry. (See What Can I Drink on Bright Line Eating®?) Don’t worry about keeping your produce in the produce drawer. You’ll be going through it fast enough that it will be fine anywhere in the fridge.
And make sure you keep your food scale on your counter so that it is visible and easy to grab. If it’s in a drawer or cabinet, you’ll be less likely to use it. Ours is kept in a basket that sits on the counter right next to the coffee pot. In fact, we actually purchased a second food scale so two of us can be prepping our food at the same time.
The next secret to maintaining a good defense is to prepare your food in advance.
In order to ensure our survival in food scarce environments (most of human history), our brains were designed to seek out nourishment that required the least amount of effort. Unfortunately, in the developed countries of the world today, the most convenient foods available tend to be the least healthy.
So to greatly improve your odds of success with Bright Line Eating® make meal time preparation as convenient as possible.
The first thing you can do is to prepare your produce so that it is all ready to eat well before meal time. This way when it’s time to eat you don’t have to spend any time peeling, washing or chopping. We try and do a lot of this prep after we get home from the grocery store and before the food gets put away.
You can also buy produce that has been already cut and washed for you. And you can also focus on produce that requires less preparation. For example, you could buy an apple rather than a pineapple or grape tomatoes rather than regular tomatoes.
The second thing you can do to prepare your food is to premeasure it when possible. Mason jar salads are a great example. These can keep for up to a week. You can also weigh your protein, fruits, grains and fat and put them in containers ready to grab and go.
This process is called “automaticity.” The more automatic and easy you can make sticking to your food plan the better. And the more likely you will succeed at reaching your weight loss goal.
This secret step is a bit more anecdotal, but I’d still recommend it. There is some research that suggests that the size of your plate can influence how much food you consume. Of course, in these circumstances the research participants were not weighing and measuring their food. So in theory the plate size shouldn’t matter if you’re doing Bright Line Eating®.
However, in my experience, eating my food off of a smaller plate (or multiple bowls and plates) makes me feel like I’m eating more food. This is probably due to an optical illusion known as the Delboeuf Illusion.
So when we started doing Bright Line Eating® we removed our large dinner plates out of the kitchen. We replaced them with smaller, red salad plates. Then before I sat down for my meal I’d try and have all of my food plated. I would then look over all of the food that was in front of me and remind myself that it was healthy and would be enough to get me to the next meal.
So consider using smaller plates and bowls to help you feel less deprived. This will be especially helpful when you first transition to Bright Line Eating®. After all, why not give yourself every possible advantage to help you stick with your food plan?
The last secret to a successful Bright Line Eating® kitchen is instituting good defensive protocols. This is especially important when there are other non-bright eaters in your home.
We have five children so most of the people in our home do not follow Bright Line Eating® food rules (nor do they need to). So we have put in place certain protocols to help support and protect me.
The first policy is that when the kids are out of the house they can make their own food choices and eat whatever they want. Of course we educate and encourage them to make wise choices, but there are no foods that they are not allowed to eat.
However, there are restrictions on what is brought into our home. If our kids want to bring home something with sugar or flour they first have to check with Mom. Mom follows Bright Line Eating®, but she does not struggle with food addiction like I do. So it is fine for her to see, discuss and even occasionally eat some of this type of food.
So if Mom gives the OK to an NMF item she will instruct the kids where to keep it. She might have them keep it in their bedroom, the basement or the back of the basement freezer. And, of course, this food is best consumed when Dad is at work, etc.
So we give them a good deal of freedom. But the other rule is, if Dad sees NMF, he throws it away. I’ve rarely needed to enforce this rule, but it lets them know that this is serious business.
Your protocols may vary based on who else is in your home, how willing they are to support you and which foods you find the most tempting. The secret is to put in place whatever protocols and procedures you can to help defend yourself against breaking your bright lines (eating food not on your food plan).
Bright Line Eating® can be extremely effective. But that doesn’t mean it will always be easy. So rather than just focusing on what to eat, you also need to defend yourself against eating the foods you shouldn’t. By implementing the five secrets of a successful Bright Line Eating® kitchen, you will significantly increase your odds of sticking to your bright lines and enjoying life in a right size body.