One Size Fits Some

Dear Faceless Person Giving Nutrition Advice on the Internet,

First off, don't. No really, don't. I don't care if you have an "RD" after your name. Why? Because you have to make a lot of assumptions about your audience that renders your advice damn near useless.

Telling people what they should eat is a lot like medical advice (in fact, it pretty much IS medical advice), and no doctor with more than just a smidgen of brains would assume to tell you what to do about that cough. It could be a virus. It could be bacteria. It could be asthma. It could be lung cancer. We don't know. And because the doctor doesn't want to be sued, he or she covers his or her bases and we get articles on how to tell the difference between the cold and the flu, neither of which need antibiotics.

This is not the case when I read about nutrition online. I generally try to ignore reading about nutrition online largely because it's a) bad, b) inaccurate, or c) both. However, sometimes I will see a link saying something like "great snack ideas!" and think that the article contains something like "great snack ideas!" However, I should know better, because any article about nutrition on the internet written by you, FPGNAotI, will contain ideas for losing weight. Except at Maudsley Parents and FEAST.

So this article about great snack ideas told me that I should have snacks containing no more than X calories. I laughed. Because the amount of calories would be like an appetizer for my snacks.

FPGNAotI, when you say that snacks should only be X calories, you are kind of assuming that your readers are basically fat and lazy and trying to lose weight. Some of your readers may very well be fat and lazy and trying to lose weight. But some of your readers may really just be sick of eating the same trail mix every day and want to mix things up a bit. They might not be trying to lose weight. They might be physically active and in need of food that is both tasty and filling.

Even saying things like "eat less fat" or "eat more leafy greens" runs into dangerous grounds. If your diet doesn't contain enough fat, your period stops and your bones become bubble wrap and will pop sooner rather than later. And too many leafy greens can leave you bereft of valuable vitamins and nutrients. How do you know I'm eating too much fat? Or not enough leafy greens?

Nutrition is pretty individualized, and nutrition advice should be, too. Telling an unknown group of people how to eat is a dangerous job, requiring numerous dubious assumptions about what your audience eats, what their lifestyles are, and what you think is best for someone you don't know and never will.

Because you know what happens when you assume things, FPGNAotI. You make an ASS out of U and ME. But mostly you.

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licketysplit said...

haha! Well said!

Laur said...

love it, as always

Libby said...

I read somewhere on the internet that if you're going to consume avocado at all, you shouldn't eat more than 1/4 of an avocado in any one day. How sad would that be, never eating more than a couple tablespoons of guacamole?!

Sometimes the internet is just dumb.

Carrie Arnold said...


Ain't that the truth!

Gaining Back My Life said...

I bet that felt GOOD to write! And Libby, my D said to eat 1/8th of an avocado - ha! They are too good to have just a nibble!

Sarah said...

first of all . . . great post!! I am so sick of one size fits all advice.

but I did freak out a little bit at

And too many leafy greens can leave you bereft of valuable vitamins and nutrients.

Really? I didn't know that. Crap.

Carrie Arnold said...


No one food can provide all your vital nutrients- unless you're a baby who's breast feeding.

Alissa said...

Preach it girl!!! Thank you for putting my very thoughts into such an articulate and entertaining post.

Lisa said...

CAN I get a witness?

Laura Collins said...

Thank you for this! You are so RIGHT. And you tell it so well.

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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