(Un)Healthy canteen: My excuse for obesity
By Timothy Singh, intern at Institute of Wellbeing (Bangladesh)
Joshua, like me, is more or less concerned about his health. Yet, funny thing, he still fails to reach his preferred body shape! Hmm…could it be because he is surrounded by tempting, tasty-looking but super fattening foods?
True, he pledged not to eat those foods and swore he would opt for a healthier diet, but what can he do? Being a university student with a hard-pressed schedule, he finds he has no time for anything but burgers, French fries and other processed foods. He would prefer fruit salad or juice, but they are hard to preserve and maybe not as profitable, so university canteens tend not to sell them. Little did I know when I first met Joshua (and, I confess, laughed at him) that he and I would share the same fate!
Dream project: Healthy Canteens
Here I am now, one of the proud interns of Institute of Wellbeing (IWB), with a boss, Anima Bhabi, who is one of the most exuberant, hilarious personalities one could ever hope for. The internship period seemed quite hectic as we only go to IWB one Saturday a week. Still it’s bliss, as I get to work on the project I dreamt of (Healthy Canteens) and also with colleagues who share similar aspirations.
OK, so we all know that healthy food is better for us, but instead we opt for unhealthy foods. They may look tempting but in fact they don’t taste even one-tenth as good as healthy foods. We’re like addicts saying that alcohol solves our despair. All this consumption of junk food costs us millions of dollars in health care. And then we justify it: just a little junk food today…I’ll do better tomorrow. Then we feel sick to our stomach and sick of our lies, but we never change our ways.
Inspiring students to be role models
The Healthy Canteen project is meant to inspire individuals in general and students in particular. Yeah, students, young people, who some people call the change makers who will pave the way for a better future. We are supposed to challenge prevalent stereotypes and create a role model for others.
Already we’ve worked on arranging seminars and making a presentation, as well as participating in a bunch of crazy activities to promote other IWB campaigns. I’m glad that I’m working tirelessly to achieve what would be like a dream come true. I can’t help but notice that other parts of the world have progressed on this front but our country has lagged behind. But hey, we won’t be far behind! With this program up and going we hope to achieve glory and inspire a better lifestyle in the near future.
Which is all a long way of saying, if only we’d had healthy canteens before now then guys like Joshua and me could cry less about our protruding bellies and live a healthier, more prosperous life. I hope it’s not too late for us, but it’s definitely not too late for a lot of others, if we just wake up and get to work creating that world we want to live in!
- Learn more about our Livable Cities work in Bangladesh
- Read about home gardening and healthy eating in rural Vietnam