Lately, I've had a really hard time knocking off my holiday weight, so I decided to use my bento boxes to help me slim down. I am the kind of person who cheats on diets. Alot. So I've stopped "dieting" and set up some personal guidelines for losing those pesky pounds.
First of all, I realized that I wasn't eating vegetables like I should have been. In fact, there were days that passed by without any vegetables at all! Vegetables are a powerful ally in weight loss. They are packed with vitamins, taste great raw or cooked, and don't pack alot of calories.
Metabolism is a tricky thing to outsmart, and if you feed your body veggies when you feel hungry between meals, you can help your body's metabolism stay on top of things. In my mind, if I eat more vegetables than anything else, I am right on track!
Second, I make sure to eat at least one serving of fruit each day. Fruit is a great little snack to have on hand when cravings get strong for something sweet.
Third, I took my meat portions and started to rethink how much I consume. Proper portion sizes are much smaller than what I normally would cook, so I made the decision to cut back the amount of meat I use for my family. I will use one full chicken breast and a tenderloin (there are three of us, one of whom is three years old) or about a cup and a half of shredded/chopped chicken/beef/pork.
I also have a few days where I add either vegan and/or vegetarian dishes. I don't do anything drastic, just a super tasty stir fry with rice. I also embrace shrimp and fish, and add a couple of dishes with that in them, too. Mmmm, tuna melts!
Fourth, I make sure to have two or three servings of dairy. I have skim milk in my cereal each morning, and eat some cheese and greek yogurt during the day, either in my bento meals or as a little snack.
Fifth, I stop eating three hours before bed. I have a friend who used to describe the feeling of slight hunger as her body eating her butt! Hahaha! So, her mantra "EAT MY BUTT!" runs through my head when I feel just a little uncomfortable. It makes me smile :)
Finally, I watch how many processed foods I eat. I try to stay with the outer isles at the grocery store while shopping, (with the exception of rice, pasta, bread, and cereal). I like sticky rice because it's easy to shape, it's filling, and I can use it with my stir fry. Plus, it freezes beautifully. Oh, and leftover rice is wonderful for easy rice cassoroles, as well as for fried rice.
When I make bentos for my husband, I fill a whole bottom tier full of rice, and the top tier with the vegetable stir fry. For me, I fill my top tier with stir fry, and my bottom tier I divide in half so I can fill half with rice, and the other half with raw veggies/fruit/cheese. My bento box is the one above. Isn't it cute?!
Oh, and I should mention that my milk is skim milk, my tortillas are wheat, and my bread is wheat. I can't give up my full fat cheese, though. No way!