In the command form, “avoid” seems to have a weak connotation. For example, the sentence “Avoid Macaroni and Cheese” almost seems to have the clause “if you can” in it even though it doesn’t.
So, is my observation correct that avoid is a weak command or at least has the connotation? If so, what are some alternatives to it that might be stronger?
I considered “Stay away from,” but I think the length and separateness makes it lose its emphasis, so I would prefer something shorter.
Perhaps my lighthearted example of “Macaroni and Cheese” mislead some people. My purpose in using “avoid” instead of a command form of “Do not” is because I do not want to specify the action. I want to use it in the context of something like “Avoid alcohol”.
Instead of “Do not drink alcohol,” “avoid alcohol” includes all sorts of other actions that I would otherwise have to specify (for example, using alcohol in cooking, staying in the company of those who drink alcohol, going to a place with alcohol, etc.)
I think the simplest way to emphasize avoidance would be to use the word shun.
shun v. tr.
to keep away from; take pains to avoid.
See TFD Online
Note the “take pains” in the definition. It suggests a strenuous avoidance, which should be what you’re looking for.
Nota bene: To all those who subscribe to the narrow viewpoint that shun is archaic, or only ever used for people, or subject to other strictures, here are a few current links. Note that the first link is from the Washington Post and is no more than a few months old.
Will the new women in Congress embrace bipartisanship—or shun it?
Do you shun the use of autoclickers?
Dividend ETFs Tend to Shun Tech Sector—Barron’s
CR Boldface: Shunning the use of titles
NM debtors tend to shun filing Chapter 13
Why did nomadic peoples shun the use of pottery?
… and my current favorite:
Consumers shun macaroni products (!)
Shun is not only commonplace but is frequently used in a variety of contexts by intelligent English speakers—especially when they want to make a strong statement about avoidance. This has been true for centuries and is still true today.