Dieters across the US and Europe have been turning to a Japanese lunchbox, called a bento, as an innovative way to help with counting calories and weight loss. Here at bariatric cookery we spotted this trend and useful lunchbox idea last year and sourced our own bariatric bento box that is specifically suited to the needs of those who have had bariatric or weight-loss surgery.
The bento has been used for centuries in Japan to carry a delicious, nutritious and visually appealing meal to eat on the go – kids take their bento boxes to school; and employees take theirs to work. Many restaurants in Japan, and Japanese restaurants in the US and main European cities, also have bento boxes on their menu.
Controlled Portion Sizes
The bento box is basically a lunchbox tray with four or five fixed compartments or a large one that can be divided into varying shapes and sizes by a divider, and some come with sealable pots for dressings, dips or sauces. Typically in Japan this would be packed with foods such as rice, fish or meat, vegetables and perhaps a dessert. The idea is to make the portions as attractive as possible, dividing the food into striking arrangements and using eye-catching colour combinations. In other words making the food look as appetising as possible but with the added bonus that foods are also divided into controlled portions.
So how does this help with counting calories and weight-loss?
It’s simple really, the compartments in a bento box are relatively small, so there is built-in portion control, even if you do not know it! For example, you can only pack a certain amount of any given food into even the largest compartment, it’s impossible to stuff in any more so the box determines and controls how much you eat from it. For bariatrics the divided portions can also be controlled keeping mind the rules on protein, vegetables/salad and starches, pretty much the same way as our bariatric portion plate, so that they reflect the ideal proportions and in a much more useful way than the usual packed food lunchbox. Use the largest compartment or divide your bento so that half of the holding area is for protein, a quarter for vegetables/fruit/salad and a final quarter for starches like potatoes, rice, pasta, bread and sweeter treats.
Our bariatric bento box is about half the size of a normal adult portion bento box – perfect since after weight-loss surgery we have smaller appetites. It would also be useful for those who wish to cut back on their portion sizes while following a calorie-controlled and calorie-cutting diet as well as being perfect for children.
The fun of course is in filling it – we have some great ideas in our bento box leaflet that comes with the bento box and each has a special carry bag (which folds out to make a great mat) for eating alfresco or even al-desko in the office. We’ve even included a chiller pack that you can freeze to keep your food cold and fresh during the warmer summer months or in hot heated winter workplaces when there is no refrigeration to hold the box until needed.
Check out our bariatric bento box package on the shopping page.