Recent spikes in prices of everyday essentials have impacted even the diet pattern of the people, particularly those in the low-and middle-income group.
In a bid to strike a balance between their rather static income and the rising cost of living, most of the people in the lower strata of society have reportedly reduced their intake of proteins, especially animal proteins such as meat, fish and egg.
"Previously, I could easily afford chickens a day every week and fish or eggs at every single meal for my family, after paying the house rent and meeting other needs," said Md Azimuddin, a 52-year-old CNG-run auto-rickshaw driver.
But the price surge has made living harder, he mentioned, adding, "Now buying chickens once a month has become difficult for me. And instead of fish, we eat eggs most of the time. Beef is never bought unless there are guests at home."
"For the last twelve years, I have been maintaining my family by driving the CNG but have never gone through hard times like this", said Azimuddin, the father of a daughter.
Azimuddin, along with his wife and daughter, lives in a rented house in the capital's Lalbagh. The monthly rental of the one-room-house is Tk7,000.
"From 9 o'clock in the morning till 10 o'clock at night, I have to drive the CNG to earn Tk2,000-2,500. From the amount, Tk1,000 is paid to the owner of the auto-rickshaw in daily rental. And after meeting other costs including that of fuel, I am left with a maximum of Tk400-600 a day."
In the current market situation, it is very difficult to buy protein foods after paying the house rent and meeting other family expenses with the tiny income, Azimuddin lamented.
"I used to buy one kilogram of apples or 500 grams of grapes every week. But I cannot buy these fruits for the last two months."
Like that of Azimuddin, the story is the same for his other fellow drivers, rickshaw pullers, bike-riders, and other low-income people.
Rickshawpuller Mohammad Rafiq said, "I take my meals at a mess in Rampura. Earlier, the cost per meal was Tk50 but it has been raised to Tk60 following the spikes on prices of commodities."
"What is more, we were given chickens once a week. But now chickens are given once a month. The amount of fish, which was common, has also decreased."
Anwar Hossain, a tea stall owner, said he used to give Tk250 to his wife every day to buy kitchen items. Now he gives Tk300, and yet it is insufficient to buy food for his four-member family, he added.
"Price of all commodities have gone up but not our income. In fact, our income has decreased. If prices continue to surge in this way, we will not see protein foods on our plates in the future."
The price surge of essentials has also led to a price hike of foods at restaurants while the amount of food served has decreased.
Ride-share driver Md Sohag Fakir said, "I usually take my lunch at restaurants. Earlier, I could have the meal for Tk100 but now the cost has gone up to Tk120 or more. A platter of chicken or fish cost Tk60 earlier, which is at least Tk70 now."
Even though prices have gone up, the amount of curry served on the platter has decreased, he said, adding that he mostly takes vegetables during his lunch now-a-days, which cost around Tk50.
Nutritionists, however, have warned that low protein intakes may leave an adverse impact on a country's productivity.
"Every person has calorie and protein requirements based on age, height and physical activities. If a person does not get those properly, their work will be affected", said Nutritionist Dr Khursheed Jahan, an honorary professor of Institute of Nutrition and Food Science at the University of Dhaka.
Further malnutrition creates different types of infections, which leads to an increase in various diseases, she added.
"If prices are not reduced, the intake of protein and fat will be further reduced, putting a long-term negative impact on productivity," she observed.