Normally, when you eat rice or bread, you often eat it with some food that is salty such as meat or food that is sweet such as sugar.

Now, a person just eats rice or bread for dinner, do we have a common term to express that, for example, "he eats rice only / bread only for dinner"?

And, how do we suggest him to eat, for example, "you should eat bread/rice with savory food"?

  • 3
    "I can't eat just rice on its own, I need something to go with it." Jul 14, 2020 at 13:28
  • 1
    Just and only can be used together in contexts like I only just met the deadline (by a very small margin; I almost failed) and I only just met him (very recently). But when the intended sense is merely, no more than, nothing else, most people would use one word or the other, not both. And the sequence just only isn't really idiomatic in English. Jul 14, 2020 at 14:37
  • @KateBunting, can we say "eat bread/rice by itself"? is it idiomatic?
    – Tom
    Jul 14, 2020 at 14:51
  • Yes, we can say that as well. Jul 14, 2020 at 16:28

2 Answers 2


Your suggestion doesn't quite sound idiomatic, although it is understandable. We don't often say "savoury food", except to make a distinction from sweet foods. Telling someone to eat savoury food seems too broad.

Depending on the point you are trying to make (ie whether you are concerned about the lack of variety or vitamins, or simply disgusted by the lack of flavour) I would expect someone to say something like:

  • You shouldn't only eat bread and rice, you need more variety in your diet.
  • You shouldn't eat bread and rice on its own, you should have something else with it.
  • You should eat other things besides bread and rice.
  • You should have something with your bread and rice.

This isn't an exhaustive list.

  • can we say "eat bread/rice by itself"? is it idiomatic?
    – Tom
    Jul 14, 2020 at 14:50
  • @Tom Yes, you could say "You shouldn't just eat bread/rice by itself".
    – Astralbee
    Jul 14, 2020 at 20:21

Your title question is a little different than the one you put in your text. Commenting on the title...

I can't eat...

Is an unusual thing to say. It would imply some sort of allergy. If what you mean is that you will get sick over the long term, then it would be better to say,

I can't survive on just rice/bread...

and the word you are looking for is probably 'protein' (in formal speech) or 'meat' (in informal speech). To be truly idiomatic try, "... something I can sink my teeth into!"

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