Designing a Healthy Eating Nutrition Plan

Portion Control

Portion control is essential to any healthy eating plan. Macronutrients should ideally be in the following proportions, always depending on an individual needs and requirements:

Carbohydrates: 45 – 60%
Lipids/Fats: 20 – 35%
Proteins: 10 – 35%

Basic Food Guidelines can be easily explained by using the South African Food Based Dietary Guidelines (FBDG) as determined in various studies initially in 2003 and later review in 2010. These guidelines are as follows and can be used during health education to the public:

• Enjoy a variety of foods.
• Be active!
• Make starchy foods part of most meals.
• Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit every day.
• Eat dry beans, split peas, lentils and soya regularly.
• Have milk, maas or yoghurt every day.
• Fish, chicken, lean meat or eggs can be eaten daily.
• Drink lots of clean, safe water.
• Use fats sparingly. Choose vegetable oils, rather than hard fats.
• Use sugar and foods and drinks high in sugar sparingly.
• Use salt and food high in salt sparingly.

Instead of the Food Pyramid as used in other countries, or the health plate, South Africa uses these FBDG as well as this Food Guide.

Food Guide

Using these guidelines as well as the Food Guide can be powerful tools to assist you in advising your client on a healthy diet. When a client is participating in any form of physical activity, their needs for certain nutrients may be increased, contacting a Registered Dietician to calculate these requirements would be advised.


Asking a client to keep a food diary is a great tool for you to make assessments on their eating habits and well as being a wonderful tool for them to assess their own eating habits as it makes a client a lot more mindful of what they are eating if they have to write it down.

See below for an example of a food diary.

DATE: dd/mm/yy

Things to remember:

  • Ask client to be honest
  • Ask client to record accurately the portion size of the food they ate
  • Try to get a client to do this for a week to see a trend. Or at least, 3 week days and 1 weekend day.

What to look for when assessing a food diary

  • Spacing between meals
  • Timing of breakfast compared to when the client woke up
  • Portion size of all macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and fats)
  • High intake of refined starches
  • High intake of saturated fats
  • High intake of sugars or sugar containing beverages
  • Evidence of excessive alcohol use that are high in energy

Limitations to a food diary:

  • Time consuming
  • Client may not be honest and under report foods eaten from the record
  • Because food is being written down, it may produce bias and include foods that wouldn’t normally be eaten