Food-based dietary guidelines

Food-based dietary guidelines - Sri Lanka

Official name

Food based dietary guidelines for Sri Lankans – Practitioners’ handbook (Sinhala language: ශ්‍රී ලාංකිකයන් සඳහා ආහාර මාර්ගෝපදේශ - පුහුණුකරුවන් සඳහා අත්පොත; Tamil language: ,yq;ifah;fSf;fhd czT mbg;gilapyhd czTKiw topfhl;Ljy;fs; - gapw;Wtpg;ghsUf;fhd ifNaL)

Publication year

Sri Lanka first published food-based dietary guidelines in 2002. A second edition was launched in 2011 with reprints in 2014 and 2016. The third edition was published in 2021. 

Stakeholder involvement

The entity responsible for the revision and update of the dietary guidelines was the Nutrition Division of the Ministry of Health, with technical and financial support from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), through the Nutrition Society of Sri Lanka. The initial printing process was financially supported by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), through the Nutrition Society of Sri Lanka, and the financial support for the second printing was provided by UNCEF.

Technical experts from the following institutions were involved in the revision process of the FBDGs;

  1. Nutrition Division, Family Health Bureau, Health Promotion Bureau, Medical Research Institute and Environmental Health, Occupational Health & Food Safety Unit of the Ministry of Health.
  2. Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, University of Ruhuna and University of Sri Lanka Jayawardhanapura, Sri Lanka.
  3. Faculty of Food Science & Applied Nutrition and Faculty of Livestock Fisheries & Nutrition, University of Wayamba, Sri Lanka
  4. Nutritionist from Sri Jayawardhanapura Teaching Hospital
  5. Members of Nutrition Society of Sri Lanka
  6. Ministry of Education
  7. Institute of Post-Harvest Technology, National Aquatic Resource Development Authority
  8. Coconut Research Institute
  9. Department of Animal Production & Health, University of Peradeniya
  10. Food Promotion Board
  11. Bandaranayake Memorial Ayurvedha Research Institute and Ayurvedha Teaching Hospital
  12. Scaling Up Nutrition- People’s Forum
  13. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
  14. World Health Organization
  15. UNICEF Sri Lanka

These guidelines were officially endorsed by the Ministry of Health.

Products, Resources and Target audiences


Target audience

Technical Review Report

2019-2020 Sri Lankan Food-Based Dietary Guidelines -Evidence Review

Working group for FBDGs revision, Policy makers

Diet Modelling System Report to inform the revision of the Food-based Dietary Guidelines for Sri Lankans  

Working group for FBDGs revision, Policy makers

FBDGs Key messages

General Population, Pregnant and lactating women, Children under five years of age, School children and adolescents, and Elderly

Food graphic (plate model), FBDG logo and QR code 

General public

Food Based Dietary Guidelines for Sri Lankans – Practitioner’s handbook

Practitioners, academics and teachers

Implementation plan for FBDGs

Policy makers, academics and other implementers

Strategic Marketing & Communication Plan, FBDGs 2021

Policy makers, academics and other implementers

Training aid for FBDGs for Sri Lankans

Health workers, educators and teachers

Development process

The objectives of the dietary guidelines are to inform the general population on healthy food choices and to promote the adoption of healthy dietary behaviors by all Sri Lankans.

The process to revise and update the dietary guidelines is a multi-year step process that began in 2019 with the conduction of a situation analysis and a dietary modelling, followed by the formulation of key recommendations in 2020 and concluded with the development of FBDGs for Sri Lankans- Practitioner’s handbook in 202, same year in which they were launched.

The development process started with the planning of the revision process in which a formal request was submitted to FAO to support the process and a selection of consultants was conducted. After that, the FBDGs editorial committee and a multidisciplinary working group was created followed by the conduction of a situation analysis that included a technical review report and dietary modelling report. A series of consultative meetings with the working group were conducted to develop the FBDGs recommended messages, which were established by experts. The development of messages consisted of testing feasibility, comprehensibility, and acceptability of the recommendations, including the translation into creative and easy to understand by the general public and the validation of the recommendations. 


The Ministry of Health is responsible for the implementation of the FBDGs. There are dissemination, strategic marketing and communication plans endorsed by all the stakeholders involved. The sectors engaged in the implementation plan are education, agriculture, livestock, fisheries, trade, food industries, finance, development partners and civil society organizations.


There is an official monitoring and evaluation plan for the FBDGs, which plans to measure the performance of the FBDGs using analytic tools such as national surveys, Google ads and social media analytics, among others. 

Food guide

The food guide of Sri Lanka is a food plate divided in five sections. The first four sections include the recommended food groups represented in the food plate, these are; fruit and vegetables; cereals and starchy foods; fish, eggs and lean meat; and pulses. The fifth represent limited foods such as sugary drinks, biscuits, cakes, sweets and sweeteners.

Messages associated with the food plate:

  1. Serve half of the plate with cereals and starchy food (parboiled or less polished rice and boiled or curried yams/jack fruit/breadfruit as per preference). Some amount of carbohydrate will also be provided from pulses too.
  2. Fill approximately 2/3 of other half of the plate with at least 2 vegetables and one green leafy vegetable.
  3. Fill the rest of the plate (1/3 of the other half) with protein sources of food. Out of which 2/3 should be from plant sources of protein and 1/3 from animal sources of protein.


  1. Add colour to your daily meals balancing the correct amounts
  2. Eat whole grains and their products including less polished or parboiled rice, instead of refined grains and their products
  3. Eat at least two vegetables, one green leafy vegetable and two fruits daily
  4. Eat fish or egg or lean meat with pulses at every meal
  5. Have fresh milk or its fermented products
  6. Eat a handful of nuts or oily seeds daily
  7. Limit salty food and adding salt to food
  8. Limit sugary drinks, biscuits, cakes, sweets and sweeteners
  9. Water is the healthiest drink: Drink 8 – 10 glasses (1.5 – 2.0 Litres) throughout the day
  10. Be active: engage in moderate physical activity for at least 150 – 300 minutes per week
  11. Sleep 7 – 8 hours continuously everyday
  12. Eat clean and safe food
  13. Eat fresh and home cooked food: limit processed and ultra-processed food
  14. Always read labels of packaged food and beverages