Healthy Living in Romania - easier than in Western Europe?
Is it easier to live a healthy life in Romania than in Western Europe? In an attempt to answer this question and guide those seeking an answer themselves, as well as tricks on how to stay on the healthy side, Romania-Insider.com starts a series of articles on Healthy Living. Follow this column and feel free to share your ideas and your experiences.
By Delia Burnham
When Romania – Insider.com asked me to write a series of articles on Healthy Living in Romania, it really got me thinking. It reminded me of my first year in Romania, living in Buzau, as an English Assistant through Socrates / Comenius, when all the children I met and taught always wanted to know why I had come to Romania. The discussion inevitably arrived at the point where all the children said that life in Western Europe was so much better than in Romania, and the point at which I always contradicted them. But what about the lack of violence on the streets? What about the unspoilt countryside and wild nature where you can trek without actually meeting anyone? What about the fact that most of them ate fresh fruit and vegetables from their grandmothers’ gardens or bought from the local market? What about the fact that most of them ate three home-prepared meals per day? At this point a lightbulb turned on in some of my pupils' heads, realizing that maybe life wasn’t so bad in Romania after all!
Is it easier to live more healthily in Romania than in Western Europe? This is what I am about to take a look at.
First of all, health does not just mean physical health. If we take Japan’s example, health is more holistic, often covering the following five areas – Body, Mind, Relationships, Society and Finances. Without going into too much detail in my first column, it would be sensible to at least look a little further afield than just body.
Let's see where Romania stays on the good vs. bad list.
Easy and cheap access to organic fruit and vegetables from daily markets
Easy and cheap access to quality home-made dairy and meat products from small producers’ shops
Access to land on which to grow your own (renting houses with gardens in Bucharest is very inexpensive, buying land or houses in the countryside are also still fairly inexpensive)
Families to buy produce from, similar to the box scheme in places like the UK (ordering fruit, veg, chicken, eggs, cheese, cold meats etc. from a family who sends you produce once a week)
Great climate for agriculture and therefore diverse range of products
Wild and unspoilt nature accessible to all
Bucharest is small so fairly manageable on foot and by bike
Good varied climate for seasonal sports
Bucharest apparently most polluted capital in EU
Dreadful drinking water
Heavy traffic, both a pollutant and stress-creator
Contagious stressful rhythm of life in Bucharest
Extreme summers and winters make getting around Bucharest in a sporty way rather difficult
Lack of affordable and clean health centres and swimming pools
Small range of sports on offer through organized channels, need to organise these yourself
Poor infrastructure leads to excess stress traveling through the city
Lack of tourist information means that wonderful places to visit are often overlooked as very few people know about them
Overall I would say that at first glance, Bucharest is probably about average with good and bad points, but as Romania is developing there are still many ways in which one can work this to one's advantage. In Western Europe systems, services and structures are a little more set in their ways and so it is difficult to find flexibility, where in Romania one might be able to do so.
Ultimately it is of course, up to each one of us to live healthily!
I would recommend that you start with food:
1) Buy your fruit and vegetables from one of the following markets (whichever closest): Piata Domenii, Piata 1 Mai, Piata Amzei, Piata Obor, Piata Floreasca, Piata Traian, Piata Gemeni, Piata Crangasi. Or another from this list.
3) Another way of easily bringing fresh food into your home is growing your own herbs or easy vegetables, such as mint, basil, thyme, rosemary, lovage, sage, or even spinach, lettuce, rocket tomatoes, or cucumbers. If you would like some advice on growing your own, please just ask!
I am interested in your feedback about how to live healthily in Romania so please do not hesitate to get in touch!
Take care of yourselves,
Delia Burnham, Healthy Living Fan