A Guide To Special Dietary Requirements

As a restaurant business, you will have come across food orders with special dietary requirements multiple times. There can be different reasons for special dietary requirements by customers, and as a restaurant business, you must cater to them. 

Understanding common dietary requirements and considering them while planning your restaurant’s menu is important. Catering to special dietary requirements diversifies your menu and helps you avoid any legal consequences in case of noncompliance. 

Refer to this comprehensive guide to special dietary requirements for restaurants and food businesses before planning your menu. 

a guide to special dietary requirements

What are the Most Common Dietary Requirements?

You must be aware of the most common dietary requirements to cater to them. Once you know about these, you can update your menu accordingly using a free menu maker. We have defined the five most common dietary requirements below. 


The term vegetarianism represents a dietary pattern that prioritises plant-based food and avoids all kinds of meat and poultry. Vegetarianism involves some variations that allow the use of animal-based products to some extent. 

It includes Lacto-vegetarianism (no meat but may include milk products), Ovo vegetarianism (no meat or poultry but may include eggs), Lacto-Ovo-vegetarianism (no meat but includes milk products and eggs), Pescatarians (no meat but fish, eggs, and milk products are allowed), and Flexitarians (rely more on plant-based food but occasionally have animal products). 

Lactose Intolerance

A digestive disorder characterised by the inability to digest milk and milk-based products (that contain lactose) is known as lactose intolerance. A lactose-intolerant person may suffer from bloating and diarrhoea after consuming foods high in lactose

You can use milk alternatives such as soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, and oat milk to prepare meals for lactose intolerants.  


A special dietary requirement that strictly restricts animal-based products in meals is known as veganism. Besides meat, any other ingredient derived from animals, such as honey and gelatin, is not included in a vegan diet. 

The two common variations in a vegan diet are fruitarian and raw vegan diets. The former relies on fruits, vegetables, and nuts, whereas the latter includes a raw plant-based diet. 

Gluten Intolerance

Gluten is a wheat protein present in flour that helps make baked products elastic. Gluten sensitivity or intolerance is a common disorder among people in which the affected person may experience inflammation, abdominal pain, or diarrhoea. 

You can use gluten-free flour to prepare meals for those who are gluten-sensitive. Other safe-to-eat food items include meat, dairy products, rice, fruits, and vegetables. 


A low-carb diet limits the carbohydrate intake in the body by replacing it with fats and proteins. The purpose of a low-carb diet is to maintain steady levels of sugar in the blood. The low-carb diet does not eliminate carbohydrates from meals but rather minimises their quantity, usually 120 gms per day. 

There are several varieties of low-carb diets, but a balanced one must include poultry, meat, vegetables, dairy, seeds, and nuts.

What are the 6 Main Types of Dietary Needs?

Besides considering special food requirements, you must also keep the essential dietary needs in mind when planning a menu. The following are the six main types of nutrients your body needs for a healthy metabolism

  • Proteins
  • Carbohydrates
  • Vitamins
  • Fats
  • Minerals
  • Water 

Make sure your meals include adequate quantities of all these dietary requirements. 

Bottom line

A restaurant business must understand the different special dietary requirements of the consumers and cater to them. Otherwise, you may lose a significant part of the market share, making it difficult for you to compete with others in the industry. Many food businesses use a menu template to design digital menus that are easy to update according to special dietary requirements. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What do dietary requirements mean?

Dietary requirements refer to an individual’s dietary needs, including the nutrients required by the body for physical growth. It takes into account any food allergies that may lead to some dietary restrictions. 

What factors affect dietary requirements?

Some important factors that may affect dietary requirements include culture, religion, health status, taste preference, and appetite. 

What are the top 10 diets?

The top 10 diets, according to US News and World Report, are the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet, the Flexitarian diet, the MIND diet, the Mayo Clinic diet, the TLC diet, the Volumetrics diet, the Weight Watchers diet, the Ornish diet, and the Jenny Craig diet.

What are the three main purposes of dietary guidelines?

The three main purposes of dietary guidelines are to meet the nutrient requirements of individuals, promote healthy growth and development, and prevent individuals from diseases. 

How do you answer dietary requirements?

You should thank the person asking and let them know about your dietary requirements clearly and in detail. Be specific, and don’t forget to mention any important detail. 

What is the purpose of a special diet?

The purpose of a special diet is to fulfil a specific objective through food. It can be weight loss, improvement of health, or balancing the quantities of nutrients in the body. 

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