In this, the 86th year of our lord Atkins, I climbed the mount and saw a burning bushel of gluten. Bestowed upon me as his one and only true dietary prophet I hereby declare unto the foodie faithful the 10 Commandments of Dietary Zealotry.


1. Thou Shalt Favor Anecdotes Over Data
“It worked for me” shall be thy rallying cry. No matter that the weight of scientific evidence shows ample research to the contrary, all that is required of the faithful is for them believe their digestive tract violates the physical laws of the universe.

Thou and thy gut microbiome art the most special of snowflakes.

2. Thou Shalt Seek Out Research Which Confirms Thy Biases
The body of research is a cherry tree from which to be picked. Only studies that support thy preconceived notions in regards to eating are of any import, whereas studies that contradict thy dietary religion are easily dismissed as poorly conducted / irrelevant / not long enough etc.

Additionally, animal studies that support thy dietary beliefs are to be exalted, whereas demonized must they be if they are in support of the argument of your opponent.

3. Thou Shalt Declare Evil a Specific Macronutrient, Ingredient, Breeding Process …
And lo, know that man has evil in his heart, for he hath brought into the world the toxic grains, synthetic methods of pest control and the most unnatural cross-breeding and genetic manipulation of plants and animals.

Thou mayest apply such demonization to the eating of creatures of fur, fish or fowl shouldst thy dietary religion demand it.

4. Thou Shalt Confer Magical Properties Upon Certain Foods
Jesus transformed water into wine, and lo, it was declared super.

Be it bacon, butter or berry of goji, quinoa or cow, açaí or ass burgers, seek out thy truest of nourishment that defy all science and logic to bestow magical detoxifying properties upon thy colon in multi-level-marketed shake form.

5. Thou Shalt Defend Thy Faith
Verily thou shalt engage endlessly in social media douchebaggery to defend thy dietary faith. Thou shalt be impervious to logic and science alike, continuously declaring fallacies of logic despite not knowing what they are. Thou shalt act the fool and be called such, leaving an opening for a proclamation of ad hominem. Engage in strawman arguments by incorrectly announcing your opponent has made a strawman argument, and insist their citing of experts are appeals to authority, whereas your CrossFit instructor / yogi / chiropractor / Beachbody Coach / Whole Foods clerk are the true experts.

6. Thou Shalt Stand Firm Despite All Evidence to the Contrary
Bulletproof thyself against naysayers by realizing that your sense of being, your nutritional soul and perhaps even your income are dependent upon endlessly ignoring every bit of research that contradicts thy dietary religion.

7. Thou Shalt Obsess
Knowest thou that faith requires sacrifice and dedication. Thou must decline social gatherings to avoid gluten, rebel against restaurants serving roast beast, and take photos of your food to spread the glorious word o’er the land of Instagram.

Thy relationships need be based on similar styles of eating, and together thee and thy acolytes shall go out into the world and testify!

8. Thou Shalt Warp History
Thou shalt proclaim troglodyte any food that pleases thee in thine efforts to live Paleolithic, regardless of the way the food environment has changed o’er the millennia. Butter is gathered and can be shoveled into thy mycotoxic-free coffee purchased over the internet, and an over-priced grass-fed organic cow that watched Charlotte’s Web while getting a shoulder massage and being serenaded by Peter Gabriel singing “In Your Eyes” just as it gets its throat cut is no different than a wooly mammoth you stalked, stabbed and skinned alongside your lice-ridden and malnourished tribe mates.

9. Thou Shalt Proclaim: “Do Your Research”
Thou shalt use “do your research” in thy rebuttal even though thou hast never done any actual research nor would thou know what real research looked like even if said research came up and bit thee on thine genitalia.

10. Thou Shalt Break the Law
Calories matter not and the first law of thermodynamics is a manmade construct designed to obfuscate the glorious TRUTH from thy mind: that elimination of carbs opens a rift in the space-time-insulin continuum to magically transport belly fat to a parallel universe.

Go forth and preach! Or, share this article. Whatever.


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James S. Fell is an internationally syndicated fitness columnist for the Chicago Tribune and author of Lose it Right: A Brutally Honest 3-Stage Program to Help You Get Fit and Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind, published by Random House Canada. He also interviews celebrities about their fitness stories for the Los Angeles Times, and is head fitness columnist for and a regular contributor to Men’s Health.