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What single word would you use to describe a list of food preferences, which includes:

  • Allergies (e.g., shellfish)
  • Sensitivities (e.g., lactose intolerant)
  • Dislikes (e.g., Brussels sprouts)
  • Likes (e.g., chocolate)

Some examples include "preferences", "consumables", and "edibles".

For example, if you had to say that Johnny is allergic to peanuts, cannot drink milk, really doesn't like bitter vegetables, but likes sweet candies... What is a word to describe the subject matter of Johnny's food preferences?

Is there another word I'm missing?

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His . . . tastes? ;) –  cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 Sep 21 '12 at 18:51
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I like tastes, but tastes implies choice -- allergies are not something you choose. –  Dave Jarvis Sep 21 '12 at 18:52
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What's wrong with 'food preferences'? Or for including things like allergies, 'food restrictions'? –  Mitch Sep 21 '12 at 19:06
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3 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

This is usually called diet, or if you want to be more wordy dietary preferences.

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Diet is good and definitely the usual term; I'd was hoping to avoid the weight loss synonym. –  Dave Jarvis Sep 21 '12 at 18:57
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I think Mark's suggestion of "dietary preferences" avoids the weight loss connotation and is a good one. You could combine it with my answer for "dietary requirements." –  JAM Sep 21 '12 at 18:58
    
I think it depends on whether you are describing the set of things they can have or the set of things they can't. I like 'dietary restrictions' for the set of things they can't have. –  Jim Sep 21 '12 at 21:12
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As you're talking about both things like allergies and sensitivies, and preferences, I'm not aware of a single word that encompasses both. Words like "taste" and "dietary preferences" only connote the "voluntary" things to my mind. Words like "dietary constraints" only connote the "involuntary" things.

Simply saying "Bob's diet", even aside from the possible confusion with weight loss program, doesn't convey that this is either what he likes to eat or that it excludes things that cause him problems. It simply indicates that this is what he DOES eat. I don't think it would be at all paradoxical to say, "I spent a week stuck in this isolated place where my diet was limited to crackers and milk, which was a real problem because I hate crackers and I'm lactose intolerant." Just because I don't like something or even that I'm allergic to it doesn't mean that I didn't eat it, i.e. that it's not part of my "diet".

I think that if you want to clearly express this idea, you would have to say "his tastes and dietary constraints" or some similar phrase.

All that said, if you're just looking for a heading or title to put on a report or computer screen, where it doesn't have to fully explain what you mean but just not be inapplicable, I think "Diet" would cut it.

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I agree. I think there are separate words for the forced part (allergies and sensitivities) and the optional part (likes and dislikes). I don't think there's a word that covers both. –  starsplusplus Jan 20 at 13:30
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Since you're including "hard" things like allergies, as well as "soft" things like likes and dislikes, I'd go with the "hard" and use the term requirements.

What are Johnny's food requirements?

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Perhaps dietary requriements? –  bib Sep 21 '12 at 21:24
    
@bib, great minds... See my comment under Mark's answer! –  JAM Sep 22 '12 at 3:00
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