The Psychology and Neuroscience of Sustainable Weight Loss with Susan Pierce Thompson, PhD (Book Giveaway)

Rewire Brain for Weight Loss

Rewire Brain for Weight Loss

Many of our readers write-in to say that they enjoy success in so many areas of their life, but struggle to eat well and maintain their ideal weight. They find themselves in unhealthy patterns of extreme dieting and subsequent binging, never finding the middle ground that they’re looking for to achieve sustainable weight loss in the long-term.

In the midst of such a struggle, many people become exhausted, choose to give up and are left believing that they’ll never lose their excess weight. They ask themselves, ‘how will I ever get where I want to be if I’ve tried so hard and still can’t succeed?’

Susan Pierce Thompson

Susan Pierce Thompson

Luckily, Dr. Susan Pierce Thompson is here to shed a little light on the subject. Instead of relying on sheer will-power to lose weight, Susan brings psychology and neuroscience to the table to help us better understand the science behind the power of food addiction and how we can free ourselves from it.

Her own story is truly moving. In 2003, Susan was taught a method for getting slender that helped her overcome a lifelong struggle with weight. Armed with the tools that she truly needed to succeed, Susan dropped from a size 16 to a size 4 in just a few short months, and later went on to become a professor of psychology to study food addiction and help others find food freedom.

We’ve been a Susan’s work for a long time and we recently sat down with her to talk about her new book, Bright Line Eating: The Science of Living Happy, Thin & Free in addition to getting a glimpse into her thoughts on the science of weight loss.

Watch the interview and learn:

  • Susan’s personal story behind her struggle with drugs and weight
  • Why 99% of weight loss attempts are not successful long-term
  • Why losing weight isn’t as simple as eating less and exercising more
  • The surprising reason you should NOT exercise when trying to lose weight
  • The Bright Lines that help overcome food addiction
  • What makes Bright Line Eating the most successful weight loss program ever

Show Notes:

Enter To Win A Free Copy of Bright Line Eating

Bright Line Eating

Learn more about Bright Line Eating

Dr. Susan Pierce Thompson has been kind enough to provide a copy of her new book, Bright Line Eating, to our community and you can enter to win!

We’ll choose a winner by random drawing on Friday, April 21st.

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Sign up for the email list using the form below. If you are already subscribed, you do NOT have to subscribe again.
  2. Leave a comment below letting us know the following: What is the biggest challenge you face when trying to lose weight?

*Note: Giveaway is only open to residents of the US and Canada




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Matt Jager is a wellness activist, yogi and co-founder of True Wellth. His life mission is to transform the healthcare and food system in this country, so that every single person has access to the tools and support they need to look and feel their best, control their health, own their happiness and revolutionize their well-being.
  • SLM

    I get and appreciate what she is doing. When dealing with addictions, moderation is never a good approach. But I do have a few comments. She says fat and flour are the most addictive foods… what about cheese? Also, if you think of the foods that are most addictive they are usually salt and fat (cheese, fries, chips, chicken (yes it is high ins salt and fat – salt is added to increase the weight for profit reasons) and sugar and fat (ice cream, chocolate, desserts etc). To just blame sugar and flour is a bit simplistic and reductionist, although I do get why they are addicting, but we usually don’t just eat straight sugar or straight flour, they usually come packaged. As far as her claims for success… it is interesting that Esselstyn (and granted he was working with a different population) had 89% of people stick to his whole foods plant based diet after 4 years. Ornish had 77% of people stick with his plant based diet after 3 years. True, these were heart patients, not all of whom were obese… but many were and they lost the weight. Otherwise great stuff and lots to learn. It is a tough nut to crack as she says. thanks for sharing

    • Thanks for your thoughts and insights! A tough nut to crack indeed!

  • caryn

    My biggest challenge when trying to loose weight is being consistent
    with my exercise and eating habits. I’m very intrigued by her claim that
    exercise can actually sabotage your weight loss efforts! Perhaps this
    is my problem. Overall, I eat pretty clean, have minimal cravings (I
    love salty, crunchy things), but do love my wine (which is high in
    sugar). I scored a 4 on her quiz. I am also a runner, and for the past
    few months have joined a running group in my neighborhood, running 3-4
    days a week, and since I’ve increased my activity, my weight has
    surprisingly not budged. Actually, I have read that runners don’t always
    loose weight from running, for a variety of reasons. I love exercising
    and physical movement and cannot imagine giving that up to loose weight!
    It’s my therapy. Lately, I’ve been working to incorporate more strength
    training, thinking more muscle mass will burn more calories and help me
    size down. However, I would love to learn more about Susan’s approach
    and look forward to reading her book. I am open to experimentation and
    am willing to suspend disbelief to try her method and see if it works.

    • Hi Caryn!
      I think we should have clarified this in the video, but if you already have an exercise routine that you enjoy, then it likely isn’t the problem. When someone starts a new diet and an exercise program simultaneously, it puts enormous pressure on willpower, and makes it nearly impossible to stay on track with healthy eating. And when it comes to weight loss specifically, diet seems to play a bigger role than exercise. Given that you already exercise and eat clean, then I would track everything you eat for 2-3 days with an app like My Fitness Pal to get a sense of your macronutrient ratios (how many carbs vs fat you are consuming), and see if there are any hidden calorie traps. Happy to discuss more if you are interested, just send me an email at

  • Leann Coleman

    I am a full blown 10 on the susceptibility scale and the challenge I constantly struggle with is eating different from the ‘norm’. My family are big-time meat and potato or heavy carbohydrate eaters and I just am not. After avoiding all the temptations at work, it can be a struggle to have the willpower to avoid the things that go against my bright-lines at home too.

    • Hey Leann! I hear ya, it’s hard to eat outside the norm especially when there isn’t much social support. What intrigued me about the bright line approach, is that once the hard rules become deeply ingrained then it doesn’t take effort to avoid temptation because the choice is already made. I experienced that early on when I changed my diet, because I was super strict with what I wouldn’t eat. Now I’m less strict, and struggle much more to say no to things I shouldn’t. Especially if you are 10 on the scale, it might be worth giving this a shot. It’s not necessarily for everyone, but for me I work much better when I have hard rules and am working towards getting back to that.

      • Leann Coleman

        Hi Matt!!!
        I agree, it becomes easier once the new rules can join the no meat, eggs, and dairy from my vegan journey. Like the many variations from the Chipotle Method or finding those go-to products at the grocery store.
        I guess, the main struggle is on those days when your home after work and everyone is having something you won’t touch with a 10″ pole but, you usually enjoy some other version of it that isn’t available.

        • There are good, plant-based substitutes for almost everything these days! It’s a great time to be a vegetarian or vegan.

          • Leann Coleman

            Oh yeah, I completely agree with you Matt. There are plenty of great options available.
            I was trying to describe, for example, times like when I arrive home after working a long shift and wanting to eat something similar to the people I live with but I do not have a substitute available to pull it off. I try to just stick with what I already planned in advance and then plan that coveted dish for another day. The problem is that it isn’t the same because the moment to share in that commodore has already passed. Hopefully, this makes it a little clearer. Thanks

          • Thanks for your on-going contribution to the discussion, Leann. Sometimes it’s hard to stick to what you know is best for your health and happiness, but the more we get in the habit, the easier it becomes!

  • Natacha Monica

    Hi Matt, thank you for doing this interview! I loved “eat less you can’t, and exercise more you shouldn’t”, brilliantly said!

    Nonetheless I am not sure her advice on not exercizing is good fit for everyone.

    Moving my body everyday and building strength and stamina is what makes me feel good and alive and want to eat vibrant nourishing food instead of junk food.

    Exercise is a great incentive to eat well, but maybe exercising after the long day, better than in the morning. At least it works for me 🙂

    • Hi Natacha,
      The way I see it, the problem is when we try and start a new exercise program as well as a new diet at the same time. Exercise has tons of benefits, and if people already have an exercise program then that’s fantastic! The message isn’t to give up exercise, but that trying to exercise and diet burns through willpower super fast, and it makes it really hard to establish good eating habits, especially when you don’t currently exercise and have a lot of weight to lose. Thanks for the thoughtful comment!

      • Natacha Monica

        The way you’re putting it makes moe sense. Of course it is going to be challenging to both change your diet and your physical activity level. I had wrongly understood that she was saying give up exercise alltogether, which sounded strange. Thank you for clarifying.

        • Thanks for being a productive part of the community!

  • Anita Brower

    It’s not about losing weight for me but not gaining it in the first place. I do a lot of emotional and stress eating and do not exercise. I don’t get all these eating rules so just eat whatever I want whether it be a whole food or not. I live by myself so cooking is not a thing I do much so I buy a single serve of some prepared or packaged food because of the convenience plus I have less food wasted as I do not like reheating and eating leftovers. I am dealing with hormones and feel them with low energy not wanting to get out of bed in the morning. Not active with family nor community.

    • Leann Coleman

      Hi Anita, I get where you’re coming from and I had a journey that can relate.
      When it comes to getting started, start small. Maybe something like the HALT method? It means that when you think about getting something to eat take a moment and halt. Think about the why, is it Anger/frustration, Loneliness/sadness, Tired/fatigue? Then, have a few strategies in place for these emotions. Otherwise, eat and make it a special event. A nice set of dish-ware, a table. (candlelight?, or music?)
      If available, go for the single serv brown rice or quinoa cups and some frozen veggie or fruit blends, even potatoes. Then a couple of sauces and some greens like spinach or kale (easier to sneak into warm dishes or make into salads). The Chipotle Method from the site could offer some quick and easy single serv suggestions too.
      Unless yoga counts, I’m not really a fan of exercise either. I am really into meditation and other deep breathing techniques. It helps me focus and relax when I am starting my day or when emotions run high.
      Try to get some sort of social support. A facebook group, a meet-up group for a special interest, an active on-line community, a co-worker, a neighbor. Anyone with a few minutes to talk about literally anything or post in a community site and have a discussion.
      I hope this can help and I wish you the best

      • Thanks for your words of wisdom, Leann. The HALT method sounds a lot like mindfulness, which is something that I’m always actively working on myself. Being able to stop and look at what you’re feeling – whether it be a craving of some kind or a temporary emotional state – creates a little space and time to reflect on whether or not taking the bait is really the best move. I appreciate you stepping in. Thanks again.

        • Leann Coleman

          Yep, that was what I was aiming for Matt. I’m glad that you liked the HALT method. It is one of my favorites to use when my emotions are at play. Particularly when I am working very late in the evening and feel like stopping for something to reward myself. I’ve literally been in a parking lot of a fast food place and used this technique to remind myself that I was already rewarded by helping others or just by earning a paycheck and that I could better reward myself at home with a hot shower before bed. (One of my planned strategies for when I’m feeling tired.)

    • Hi Anita. Thanks for chiming in and it looks like you’re not alone. We’d love to help out in the event that you feel like you ever need support. Don’t hesitate to reach out!

  • Susan Laverty

    My biggest challenge is occasional binge eating.

    • Thanks for the comment Susan. Did you take Susan’s susceptibility quiz? It may help shed some light. You’re entered for the book giveaway, and we’ll let you know if you win!

  • Roland Blais

    Biggest challenge? I love food. Love,love, love it. Beer too. (0 on the susceptibility scale, btw).

    But, I’m on day 3 of the 14 day challenge!

    • Awesome, Roland! I’m glad that you’re at least being honest with yourself. I’ll join you in that – I love food too! The trick is in making healthy food choices on a regular basis. It’s definitely possible to crave and enjoy food that’s good for you. Best of luck and let us know if you need any help along the way!

  • Kyla

    I’m mobility challenged. Even though I’m plant based and eat organic whole foods, I still have trouble keeping my weight down because of my lack of ability to work out much. I do as much moving as I’m able too, but it just doesn’t seem to be enough. Would love some more insights!

    • Thanks for chiming in, Kyla! It sounds like you’re in a tough position and I would recommend that you talk to your doctor to see what they might recommend. That being said, there are a few well-known professionals in the natural health world that recommend a low calorie diet for everyone. Have you tried restricting your calorie intake? Wishing you all the best.

      • Kyla

        My Dr says I don’t eat ENOUGH calories. Lol One of my challenges is gastroparesis (not diabetes induced – I’m not diabetic) and I’ve lost the hunger and thirst triggers. I literally don’t get hungry/thirsty. I have to keep a pitcher of water in front of me all day to remind myself to hydrate and I have to set alarms to remind myself to eat. I don’t eat processed foods…I’m wondering if I reduce my calorie intake to only the calories needed to keep my body going (for my height that’s about 975 calories) and create a deficit because I’m not sure what else to do.

        • Hi Kyla. We’re not medical professionals, but would love to help you a little with this. Shoot us an email and let’s chat about a few ideas.

  • Joanna Sapp

    My biggest challenge? My raging sugar addiction!!!

    • I think we’re all in the same boat on that one! Have you tried snacking on foods that use healthier, lower glycemic sweeteners like stevia? It’s a great way to enjoy a little sweet treat when you need it, without having to feel guilty about it.

  • Kelly Martin

    Chocolate addiction and being self-employed and having to spend so much sedentary time at the computer to earn income.

    • Hi Kelly. I totally get you! Doesn’t it seem like chocolate and a sedentary work-life go hand-in-hand? I know it does for me and it’s something that I’m working on at the moment too. Chocolate is a little bit like coffee, in that it gives you that extra little pick me up and energy to move through work a little more easily. Have you tried eating healthier raw, sugar-free chocolates? Sacred Chocolate is one company that comes to mind. Check them out!

  • Susan Laverty

    I struggle with occasional binges.

    • Stay strong, Susan! Let us know if we can help you in more depth. We’ve all been there.

    • Hi Susan! Great news, you’ve been selected as the winner of the book giveaway! Please send your mailing address to and we’ll send you a copy. Thanks for your contribution!

  • Terri Jones Cole

    I’m a binge eater. I know what the best food is for me, but I still end up eating candy and french fries. Being vegan is easy, staying WFPB, not so much!

    • I can completely relate to where you’re coming from, Terri. When walking through the grocery store aisles, it’s all too easy to pick up vegan junk food off the shelf and put it in your cart. We all do it from time to time. Just do your best to stick to WFPB as much as you possibly can, and check-in with us when you need support!

  • Sam E Shutt

    great ideas

    • Thanks for your support, Sam!

  • Karen Endres DeGirolamo

    stress eating is my biggest challenge

    • Matt Jager

      Thanks for chiming in, Karen. I think we all do a little stress-eating, and so I can relate to how you feel. Looking at the emotions that lead to stress-eating directly as they arise, instead of turning to food immediately to mitigate whatever we feel, seems to be a good stepping-stone to getting out of the cycle. Have you had any luck in doing so?

    • I think we can all relate to that sentiment, Karen. Send us an email and let’s share some ideas!

  • Lekan Nicholson

    This is really interesting. I definitely have a food addiction. I eat so much all the time. I try and keep it as non processed as I can. I’m really curious in the ways the prep meals and remove the will power to eat the right things. That sounds so helpful.

    • Hi Lekan! Thanks for chiming in! Susan has been a great resource in the midst of learning more about how food addiction impacts us all and how to work with it effectively. Keep in touch and let us know how your journey unfolds!