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Nutrition questions are off-topic, with a few narrow exceptions. However, sometimes people want to do something specific for nutritional reasons, e.g. omitting an ingredient, and ask questions specifically about the culinary part. Those questions are on-topic.

Is it still okay to mention nutrition in those questions? For example:

For nutritional reasons, I don't want to eat X. How do I make Y without X?

Or should they just omit that, and ask the question directly?

If questions do that, should comments and/or answers address the nutritional issue?

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It's okay to briefly mention a nutritional reason in the question, as long as the question itself is clearly not asking for nutritional advice. However, comments and answers shouldn't address nutritional issues.


Yes, having any mention at all of nutrition in the question can still invite discussion. But if you don't explain at all, and just give a seemingly arbitrary restriction, people are guaranteed to ask why. That's a good thing, since it might help clarify the restriction. For example, if someone wants to avoid sour cream, depending on the reason, they might or might not find other dairy products acceptable. Putting a reason out there as a given can help avoid that.

So just make sure to be clear that you're not asking about nutrition:

  • State the nutritional part as briefly as possible, without making unnecessary claims or suggesting you're interested in more information. ("For nutritional reasons, I prefer to avoid X." as opposed to "I'm pretty sure X is super duper unhealthy/carcinogenic/toxic")
  • State the actual question clearly, so that people know what they do need to address. This is always good, but especially good here.

As for answers and comments, I know it's tempting, but please try to avoid discussing nutrition.

Since nutrition questions are off-topic, we know the OP isn't asking about it, so there's no need to address it. The more points we make, the more likely it is we end up with a discussion. I can understand sometimes, especially for really outlandish claims, a brief "you might want to research more or ask a nutritionist or doctor if you actually need to avoid X." But let's not get into detailed discussions.

If you see folks providing substantial nutritional advice in answers, feel free to edit it out and let them know why. If you see nutrition discussion in comments, especially extended discussions, feel free to flag.

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To put the same thing in terms known to the rest of the network: this is an anomalous version of the XY problem.

In this version, somebody asks "To solve health issue X, I want to use culinary solution Y. I encountered a problem while cooking Y, how do I solve it?". Until here, it deviates from the classic XY problem because 1) the OP shared what X is instead of leaving us to puzzle over Y (good!) and 2) X is specifically about health.

Most people on the network instinctively address both X and Y when they see this form of question, especially if they believe that Y is an inferior solution to X. In almost every case, this is desirable and the OP and future readers profit from it.

However, health/nutrition has its special problems. We do not allow health discussion of any form, even when the question invites it. So, if the OP directly asks about a health opinion, the question is closed.

If the OP asks about Y and mentions that it is motivated by his health opinion on X, there is still an interesting culinary discussion to be had. So, please, stick to discussing Y and resist the temptation to discuss X. Flag any content by users who went with the flow and did it anyway. This allows us to avoid the real problem without throwing out the baby together with the bathwater.

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