Here are some words and phrases to help you talk about food, methods of cooking and diets in English.
Types of food
meat (or “red meat”) = lamb, pork or beef
poultry (or “white meat”) = chicken, turkey, goose, duck
game (“wild” meat) = rabbit, hare, partridge, pheasant
fish = salt water fish / sea fish or fresh water fish
seafood = prawns, shrimps, lobster, scallops, mussels, crab
vegetables = leafy vegetables (such as broccoli or spinach), root vegetables (such as carrots and onions) etc
fruit = soft fruit (such as plums and peaches); berry fruit (such as strawberries or raspberries) etc
You can also talk about the different food groups: fats and oils (such as olive oil, butter etc); fruit; vegetables; protein (such as meat); dairy (such as milk, cheese, and yoghurt); grains (such as wheat, or corn); and sugar.
How food is cooked
boiled – cooked in boiling water
steamed – cooked over a saucepan of boiling water
fried / sauteed – cooked in oil in a frying pan
stir-fried – fried fast in hot oil
pan-fried – fried in a frying pan
roasted – cooked in oil in the oven
grilled – cooked under a grill or on a ridged pan
baked – cooked in the oven
stewed – cooked for a long time on a low heat
casseroled – cooked slowly in juices
Here are some of the names of dishes you can see in restaurant menus:
starter / hors d’oeuvre / appetiser = the first thing you eat as part of a more formal meal
main course = often a meat, fish or vegetarian dish
dessert / pudding = a sweet course at the end of the meal. You might also see cheese or fruit offered.
If you are overweight or obese, your doctor will probably recommend that you “go on a diet”. Here are some words and phrases that we use to talk about dieting, body size and putting on weight.
watch what you eat = be careful about what you eat, and the quantities you eat
watch your figure = refuse certain food because you want to stay slim
go on a crash diet = start a radical diet to lose weight quickly
count the calories / a calorie-controlled diet = a diet where you measure the calories of each item of food you eat
snack between meals = to eat between meals (avoid doing this if you are on a diet!)
cut out certain foods altogether (i.e. stop eating bread or pasta, for example)
cut down on = reduce the amount of (fatty or sugary foods, for example)
Body size and putting on weight
“You are what you eat!” = a common expression meaning that your body shape is directly related to what or how much you eat.
middle-age spread = where you put on weight especially around your waist and hips.
put on / gain weight = become heavier
pinch an inch = where you can measure at least an inch worth of fat around your middle (an inch is approximately 2.5 cm)
pile on the pounds = gain a lot of weight (a pound is approximately half a kilo)
lose / shed weight = become lighter
go up a size = become one size larger (the opposite is to drop a size = become one size smaller)
have a sweet tooth = like eating sweet or sugary things like cakes, sweets or chocolate
eat sensibly = eat moderate quantities of food, and not over-indulging in unhealthy food
five a day = five portions of fruit or vegetables every day