Food-based dietary guidelines

Food based dietary guidelines - Colombia

Official name

Food-based dietary guidelines for the Colombian population over 2 years of age (Guías alimentarias basadas en alimentos para la población colombiana mayor de 2 años)

Food-based dietary guidelines for Colombian pregnant and breastfeeding women and children under 2 years of age (Guías Alimentarias basadas en alimentos para mujeres gestantes, madres en período de lactancia y niños y niñas menores de 2 años para Colombia)

Publication year

Colombia launched its first FBDGs for the adult population, children under the age of two and pregnant and breastfeeding women in 2000. In 2008 the country began a process of updating the guidelines for the adult population, with the methodological design completed in 2009, the revision proposal developed between 2010 and 2011 and the National Technical Committee of the dietary guidelines (CTNGA) formed to undertake the review in 2013 . The updated technical document of the FBDGs was published in 2015. 

Similarly, the process for reviewing and updating the guidelines for pregnant and lactating women and children under 2 years of age began in 2017and culminated with the publication of the technical document in 2018.

Stakeholder involvement

The CTNGAs (made up of governmental and non-governmental entities, academia, unions and professional and scientific associations) were led by the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare (ICBF) and had technical support from FAO. Key stakeholders involved included representatives from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Culture, National Institute of Health, universities, research institutions, professional associations, UN agencies, among others.

 Products, resources and target audiences


Target audience

Guides for facilitators

Teachers, first-level health personnel, agricultural extension workers, officials of government entities, NGOs, journalists, etc.

Technical documents

Academia, professionals, technicians, decision makers and actors involved in healthy eating promotion


Healthy population older than 2 years.

Pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, children under 2 years of age.

FBDGs facilitator's guide for schoolchildren

Teachers, first-level health personnel, agricultural extension workers, officials of government entities, NGOs, journalists, etc.

Information, Education and Communication Strategy Booklet

Community and institutional education agents of the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare

Booklet my plate: a fun rainbow of flavors

Families and Children from 2 to 5 years old

Development process

These guidelines were formulated for the healthy population over two years of age and their purposes are to promote health, prevent malnutrition and contribute to reducing the risk of NCDs related to diet and physical activity, taking into account the physical environment and the factors social, economic and cultural of the population.

The review and update process comprised several stages, starting with planning, characterizing the target group, defining objectives, formulating and prioritizing research topics and questions that were later resolved through the review of scientific evidence and consultation with experts, selection of viable recommendations, development of messages, field testing and the development of educational materials.  The development of the FBDGs contemplated a broad participation of all interested social actors. The result corresponds to a document supported by scientific evidence and oriented from an ethnic-territorial perspective, which responds to the FAO methodology. 


Colombia has an official national implementation plan.

In 2019, an agreement between ICBF and FAO, led to the design of the Information, Education and Communication (IEC) strategy on food security and nutrition. In 2020, the FBDGs Facilitator Guide for school children (6 to 12 years old) was created to guide educators in promoting the nine messages of the FBDGs as one of the main tools of this strategy.

For the design and implementation of the IEC Strategy the following process was followed:

  1. A diagnostic stage to identify the main food and nutrition issues
  2. Identification and prioritization of behaviors that can be modified or changed
  3. Identification and characterization of the audience with which the IEC strategy will be developed,
  4. Definition of objectives taking into account what the audience need to know, understand and do to achieve the change in behavior
  5. Formulation of messages that convey the necessary information or images, but especially emotions, feelings, beliefs and attitudes, clearly detailing what the audience should know and do.
  6. Selection of useful channels and tools to promote behavior change, in addition to understanding their scope and limitations.

The Food and Nutrition Education microsite of the Nutrition Directorate, which is freely accessible to the general population, and the “My hands teach you” website which is an online learning space for caregivers, children and adolescents (on positive parenting practices, advice, guidance and recommendations for care, healthy eating and risk prevention) are key channels for FBDGs dissemination and content generation. 


Currently there is no official monitoring and evaluation plan. This is an aspect that is being reviewed and that is expected to be led by national institutions with the participation of the members of the CTNGAs.


During the situation analysis phase of the FBDGs development, biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation, as well as inequity of rural populations were considered as key issues. 

In this context, the ICBF in agreement with other organizations such as FAO and the National University of Colombia developed processes of territorial adaptation of the FBDGs with the aim of recognizing differential and territorial approaches, and of deepening the understanding of culture, practices and food systems from different ethnic communities as inputs to promote healthy and sustainable diets.

As a result, an approximation of food geography by macro region was produced, to initiate an approach to sustainable FBDGs for the multiethnic and multicultural population that inhabits in a country like Colombia. Territorialized FBDGs are not only an icon but a strategy to promote healthy eating habits, taking into account the local food and culinary systems, and that requires a perspective that addresses the local diversity of health and nutrition beliefs and practices, and that considers food and nutrition education actions and the management of agro-ecosystemic resources in the prioritized territories.

Food guide

The food guide chosen is a plate with six food groups (cereals, root vegetables and products; fruits and vegetables; milk and dairy; meat, eggs, pulses and nuts; fats and sugars) in the recommended proportions for a healthy diet. Icons of people doing physical activity are also represented in the plate.


For the population over 2 years

  • Eat natural and diverse foods, as indicated in the “Healthy plate of the Colombian family”
  • To favour muscle, bone and teeth health, eat eggs, milk and dairy products daily
  • To improve your digestion and prevent hearth disease, include whole fruits and fresh vegetables in each of your meals. 
  • To complement your diet, eat pulses like beans, lentils, peas and chickpeas at least two times per week.
  • To prevent anaemia, schoolchildren, adolescents and young women should eat offal once per week. 
  • To maintain a healthy weight, reduce the consumption of packaged products, fast foods, soft drinks and sweetened drinks. 
  • To maintain a a normal blood pressure, reduce the consumption of salt and foods high in sodium like processed meats, canned foods and packaged products. 
  • Take care of your heart: eat nuts, peanuts, and avocado; reduce the consumption of vegetable oils and margarine; and avoid animal fats like butter and lard. 
  • For the pleasure of living healthily, do at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. 

For pregnant women

  • For your health and that of your baby, eat fresh, varied and natural foods, as indicated in the "Healthy plate of the Colombian family"
  • Share and enjoy traditional and healthy food in company.
  • For your health and that of your baby, avoid fast foods, packaged products, sodas, sugary and energy drinks.
  • For a healthy pregnancy, reduce your salt intake and avoid cold cuts, sauces, bouillon cubes, and packed soups.
  • Attend prenatal checkups as soon as you find out you are pregnant, this supports your health and that of your baby.

For breastfeeding women

  • Feed your baby with breastmilk, this helps to regain your previous weight, prevent breast and ovarian cancer and strengthen the bond between mother and child.
  • Increase your water intake and prefer foods such as meats, red organ meats, fish, dairy, eggs, legumes, fruits and vegetables.
  • As a lactating woman, you have the right to be supported by your partner, family and society to make breastfeeding a successful practice.

For children under 2 years (for caregivers and health workers)

  • For children to grow up healthy and smart, give them only breastmilk for the first six months of life
  • As a healthcare worker promote, protect and support breastfeeding. Do not provide or encourage the consumption of formula.
  • To promote the health and nutrition of children, offer from six months of age, varied, fresh and natural foods, prepared at home and continue to breastfeed until 2 years or more.
  • From six months of age, offer your child the diversity of foods typical of the territory.
  • Allow your baby to come into contact with food while he/she eats, so that textures, smells and tastes can be safely experienced.
  • Do not offer your child canned milk, commercial compotes, boxed baby cereals, packaged products, deli meats, fast foods and sugary drinks.
  • For the development of children, promote activities that involve play and movement.
  • Avoid television, phones and other distractions during feeding time.
  • Reflect on the information and advertising of food and beverages presented on television, radio and other media. Not all of it is aimed at promoting health and nutrition, consult the food-based dietary guidelines.