The red rice, suja and shakam breakfast is fast disappearing from the Bhutanese table. Not so much because of affordability, but for health reasons. Bhutanese are fast realising that sitting in front of the computer, all day, cannot digest their favourite breakfast.
If the breakfast is now an assortment of light eats, much care is given on what is eaten at the office canteen for lunch and at dinner too. Sugar and salt is getting lesser and lesser in beverages. Like a farmer said, meat and fish has now become the poor man’s dish, as doctors advise them to eat rich food.
More and more people are seen jogging, walking and running every morning and evening. It is a healthy trend, even if the Gallup-Healthways Global Wellbeing index ranked Bhutan the last from among 145 countries it surveyed. One of the parameters was having good health and enough energy to get things done daily.
There is a good amount of awareness on healthy living, even if it is limited to urban residents. To match the interests in staying fit, the government has put in place some infrastructure. The open gym for the public is being utilised to the fullest going by the rush in the mornings and evenings. Users outnumber those worried about a few extra kilos around the waist. There are many who are advised or convinced about the importance of physical activity. They include both young and old.
A cycle trail has been built and another nature trail is under construction. The number of people cycling is increasing although not many cycle to work because of inconveniences of riding in gho and kira or safety reasons. More parks are also created.
The Zhung dratsang, with the highest number of people affected by non-communicable diseases in among the institutions, is rightly given attention. Like some monks admitted, because of the tradition they are the group who are pampered the most with rich food and least physical activity. Rich food in Bhutanese context is oily and fatty.
The monks could do with more treadmills, even a gym in some corner of the dzong. Meanwhile, sports should be encouraged among monks. It is one cheap way of getting engaged in physical activity. Some monks are already into it. There is nothing wrong in sports. It is not against Buddhism.
More sports facilities could encourage a healthy lifestyle right from a young age. If there are more football grounds, basketball courts, volley ball courts, some reserved only for girls, there will be more youth on the sports field than on the streets.
If it is safe to cycle to work, from stray dogs and traffic, and offices have changing rooms fitted with showers, more people would cycle to work.