Bento boxes are a great way to portion meals after bariatric surgery. After bariatric surgery, your plate should be 50% protein, 30% vegetables, and 20% high-fiber and whole-grain carbohydrates. The boxes also help maintain these nutrient proportions, as they contain numerous divided containers in varying sizes. Bento boxes are also economical.
Like all packed lunches, bento boxes save you money by not going out to eat for lunch. However, bento boxes also eliminate the need for disposable wrappings like tin foil or sandwich bags. Once you put the lid on the box, each compartment seals to keep foods separated and fresh. Bento boxes are also a more stylish option than the typical brown paper bag. You can find almost any box to match your style, as they come in a variety of colors and prints.
The aesthetics of your lunch may seem unimportant, but visual interest helps break the monotony of bland bagged lunches. Bento boxes also help prevent boredom with your lunches. You can visualize each compartment to mix and match foods throughout the week. Meal prepping at the start of the week can help avoid the cycle of repetitive lunches, too.
Most bento boxes contain three-to-four containers, but you can find some with more or less to suit your needs. Here are several bento box lunch ideas to help get you started!
Deconstructed Grilled Chicken Salad Bento Box
Chicken salad sounds healthy at first glance, but many recipes use caloric and fat-laden dressings. Lettuce can also be a problematic lunch food for meal prep, as it tends to wilt quickly. Deconstructing it to its primary ingredients yields a high-protein and colorful lunch.
- Leftover grilled chicken
- Sliced hardboiled egg
- Sliced cucumbers
- Grape or cherry tomatoes
- Greek yogurt dip
Arrange your proteins in one container of the bento box, your veggies in a second section, and your dip in the third container. If you have a fourth container, add a high-protein treat like 1/3 of a fun-flavored protein bar. Quest Nutrition and Pure Protein are good brands for bariatric patients, as they are high in protein and low in sugar.
Low-Carb Lunchmeat Sandwich
Bread is a starchy food and may be difficult to swallow without drinking something. It’s best to avoid drinking while eating after bariatric surgery. The liquid can make you feel artificially full, and not eating enough can lead to muscle wasting and vitamin imbalances. However, you can still enjoy the flavors of a typical sandwich with this creative bento box.
- Sliced deli meat, quartered or rolled
- Sliced low-fat cheese (cheddar and Swiss are good choices)
- Thinly sliced cucumbers or sandwich pickles
- Optional: Wasa multigrain crispbread or Quest protein chips
Divide your food into the containers. Place your turkey and cheese in one container, your pickles in another container, and your crispbread or protein chips into the third container. Once again, you can add a flavorful protein treat if you have a fourth container. Take care when portioning the Wasa multigrain crispbread or protein chips. These can easily become slider foods, meaning you can eat a lot of them without feeling satiated.
For the crispbread or protein chips: Arrange your turkey quarters, cheese, and cucumbers on top of the crispbread or chip to create mini sandwiches.
Without the crispbread or protein chips: You can make turkey rolls ups if you’d rather avoid these ingredients. Instead of quartering your turkey, leave it as a whole slice. Lay your cheese and cucumbers (or sandwich pickle) onto the turkey, roll it up, and enjoy! Swap out the crispbread or protein chips with Greek yogurt, hummus, cottage cheese, veggies, or a low-carb fruit.
Diet is a huge factor that determines your weight loss success after bariatric surgery. However, portion sizes can be confusing, and meal planning can feel overwhelming. Bento boxes are a great way to create a week’s worth of lunches with portion sizes that meet your nutritional needs. You can also mix and match ingredients to keep things varied but simple.