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

  • Allergies (e.g., shellfish)
  • Sensitivities (e.g., lactose intolerance)
  • 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?

  • 1
    His . . . tastes? ;) Sep 21, 2012 at 18:51
  • 2
    What's wrong with 'food preferences'? Or for including things like allergies, 'food restrictions'?
    – Mitch
    Sep 21, 2012 at 19:06

3 Answers 3


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

  • 1
    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, 2012 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, 2012 at 21:12

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?

  • 1
    Perhaps dietary requriements?
    – bib
    Sep 21, 2012 at 21:24
  • @bib, great minds... See my comment under Mark's answer!
    – JAM
    Sep 22, 2012 at 3:00

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.

  • 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. Jan 20, 2014 at 13:30

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