Firstly, let me say that I have benefited from so much great advice given and support provided in these forums. However, I've noticed that people looking for advice on their food intake and weight loss, especially in the newbie forum, frequently receive confusing and sometimes conflicting advice. This is partly to be expected as the board encompasses a range of views on low carb eating. However, I believe we can improve the quality of our replies by considering a few important factors about the person we're advising, before we hit the reply button (in no particular order):
1) What is the person's current weight and height (ascertainable by hovering your mouse over their gender symbol)?
This will help you grasp their approximate required food intake.
2) How much weight does the person have to lose?
This will help you estimate how quickly or slowly they can expect to lose weight.
A careful reading of points 1) and 2) will also help to ring the necessary alarm bells about whether the person needs to be on a weight loss diet at all.
3) What is the person's age and how deep an understanding do they have of the plan they are following?
This will help you tailor your advice to the needs and level of understanding of the person you are advising.
4) What plan are they following?
For example, if they're following SBD, it's probably best not to tell them to eat more fat.
5) How long has the person been on their low-carb plan?
This will help you work out two things:
a) whether they are in weeks 2,3 or 4 of their plan and thus probably experiencing Post Induction Stall Syndrome (PISS) and so don't need to change anything at all
in their diet but just be patient.
b) whether they are a newbie trying to understand their plan and just getting started, or an old hand who knows all the rules and is just looking to tweak something in particular.
6) How much weight have they lost already?
If they've lost significant weight already on their current menu, is it possible that their body is just taking a breather and they don't need to be advised to eat eat more or less of anything in particular?
7) Does the person have any medical conditions or particular dietary requirements?
Now of course, you may not be able to glean all this information from the original post but I would suggest that, if they haven't included all this information, it is worth asking before giving advice.
And a couple of points about the advice you give:
1) Is your advice going to confuse them more?
For example, is your advice a one-liner that won't make any sense to them until they go away and do extensive research on the toxin you're warning them about, supplement you're suggesting, or non-mainstream low carb approach you are advocating? A few judicious links can fix this!
2) Is your advice relevant to the question they've asked?
If they've asked for "help with my diet please", then most advice will be relevant. But if they've asked "will eating this many eggs give me high cholesterol" then they probably don't need to be advised that "you need
to eat more vegies or you'll die!"
3) Are you expressing as immutable truth what is, in fact, your personal perspective?
When you tell someone to eat more vegies, you may want to keep in mind that some other people think this is unnecessary. When you tell someone to eat five small meals a day, keep in mind that others would suggest you eat only one meal a day. When you tell them to reduce their egg consumption because it will lead to high cholesterol, remember that many people would disagree with that. The phrases "many people find ...", "in my experience ...", "you may want to try ..." and "YMMV" are all very useful here.
I know that every one of us has the best intentions when we give advice, that we are just trying to help each other however we can, but I believe if we keep the above points in mind, our advice will be better, more helpful and less confusing to those who need it.
PS: Of course, there is always the possibility that anyone not already using such a mental checklist when they give advice won't have managed to read through the whole of this post