The standard dietary disclaimer and more.

Experimenting with food and exploring the Internet for recipes, I realised something that has come up in my searches, for some people, Xander included, cutting things from their diet are after a clinical diagnosis. Others do so because it seems to be the 'in' thing that claims to improve their diet. As someone who wishes to be as responsible to my reading base as I can be, it's brought attention to some disclaimers and advice I feel I really need to share, since, particularly in teenage girls, diets is a thorny issue.

As I say on Twitter, my opinions are my own, and I do not expect everyone to agree with them. However, I believe in the importance of an opposing view's existence, if everyone agreed with something, then there would be no innovation.

That said, I'm not a doctor nor a nutritionist, and even if I was, I couldn't, and wouldn't, give advice remotely. If you are having trouble that is concerning you, you need to see someone face to face so they can give you a proper examination.

Xander once pointed out that the ease of access the Internet provides is a double edged sword. Not only do we have access to more information than ever before, but those who will give you false information for their own gain have the biggest platform ever. Sadly, this, marketing and more also applies to food.

I'm very much aware of the fact that there are those who'll spout the health benefits of a certain diet. But do vegans tell you that their diet is also low in a vitamin which is used by the body for mental health? Or generations of vegetarianism leads to a mutant gene linked with heart disease? Or the raw crowd there are foods that are poisonous raw (potatoes, cassava root, lentils and cashew nuts to name a few)?

Bear this in mind people, there's no such thing as a diet that is perfect for everyone. Just as eating wheat would cause Xander all manners of problems, other foods are harmful to others. But that can apply to whole lifestyle choices.

And no, cutting gluten doesn't help you lose weight, it might inadvertently do so because you're eating less processed junk, but that's about all really (especially since free from treats usually have more calories).

Yes, researching these things can be time consuming, everyone wants to be healthy and they want to be healthy now. I've been there, I get it. But do it. It could save your life, if not the numerous intricately overlapping systems that make up your body.

So here are my tips to help you when listening to online promoters.

1) Investigate their critics

This might sound a little strange, but the content and the tone of critics can be very telling about an argument that is trying to sway you to their side. If the argument stinks, the critics would already be giving good articles detailing where it falters. On the other hand, if the argument holds water, arguments against it would be full of holes that you could pick apart.

For example, militant YouTube vegan Freelee the Banana Girl and her boyfriend DurianRider both are very quick to accuse critics of not caring about animals. However, I don't see them talking about supporting the RSPCA or other animal welfare charities, so you've got to wonder how much they care about animals overall.

Furthermore, in subjects where your health is at stake, you might find symptoms that, if you catch early, could prevent permanent, or even fatal, complications. Lierre Keith is very vocal about the health problems she's developed by being vegan for 20 years.

2) Look out for logical fallacies.

The most common ones are listed here. Logical fallacies are used to strengthen a weak argument or detract from a strong one. Being savvy to them is an incredibly useful weapon against cons and frauds online.

For example, in her justification of bleached cake flour, recipe author Stella Parks of Serious Eats falls foul of the bandwagon, tu quoque, and the strawman fallacies. Make of that what you will.

3) Learn the signs of a cult

Warning signs thereof can be found here. Again, this may feel strange, but some of these diets are held like a religion in their own right and they can take criticism in a similar manner as well. Anyone who closes their mind to opposing views and concepts is usually blinded to the notion that our understanding of what the truth is can change.

Someone who wants a truthful view and self-improvement welcome scrutiny, but condemn personal attacks. Unfortunately, there are a growing number of people who cannot differentiate between these two very different things in various fields.

4) The first to use violence is always the loser.

Treat those who threaten violence on others like an online idiot, if you engage with them, they'll drag you to their level and beat you with experience.

I include doxing in this, because those who commit to this practice do so in the hope that someone who knows where their victim lives will do harm on the aggressor's behalf.

With that said, I must conclude with this, when you're trying to be a healthy eater, listen to your body. I can not (the space is for emphasis) stress this enough. Your body knows what it needs, it's programmed into it for survival, and it will tell you if you know how to listen. Do not choose feelings over your health, it can, and for some people, has, caused irreparable damage.

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