Posted in Health & Fitness

Geek Health: Bento Lunches and PlanetBox Review



I believe this is the first time I’ve written something health/fitness wise on this blog ever. I am by no means an expert on the topic – in fact, my current state of health and fitness is in great need. I’m not in the worst shape I’ve ever been in my life. But, I work in a sedentary office environment, then I come home and enjoy hobbies that are also sedentary (gaming, art, writing).

The truth is, I’m not as young as I used to be (and that’s not going to change), and I haven’t been as health-aware the past decade as I should. Experts seem to stress that getting healthy isn’t about gimmick-diets or fad workouts. It’s about making slow, lasting changes in lifestyle.

So, that’s what I’ve been trying to do this year.

Lunch Lament

I started my path to better health by trying to identify my own behaviors that lead to unhealthy eating. I knew that lunch, in particular, is a big stumbling point for me.

Mario Bento Box
Cute Mario Bento Box – I didn’t make this!

As I noted, I work full time in an office. So that means I must either bring my lunch or eat out. It’s so easy and tempting for me to eat fast food – there’s a Burger King, Chick-fil-a, Arby’s and Subway all within 3 minuets of my work location.

I tried hard to bring my lunch, but I’d soon get tired of the same foods each day. I’d look at my lunch bag with a curled lip, grab my keys, and opt for the more expensive and less healthy option.

Or. I’d force myself to eat what I brought, which was usually not enough to keep full. By the time I was ready to go home, I was so hungry that I’d grab something unhealthy on the way home, or just eat way too much at dinner.

I knew I needed to change this.

The Bento Option

About a month ago, I decided if I could make a lunch that was both appealing and more filling, then I could hopefully prevent unhealthy eating behaviors. I’m not much of a cook, and don’t enjoy spending time in the kitchen, so I needed a simple solution. I took to Google to search about what kind of healthy lunches folks make, and quickly ran across the bento box lunch.

Bento is just Japanese for a “meal in a box.” You often see these in anime, especially when school kids bring their lunch. They can be cute or decorative, but above all, they can be healthy.

Bento boxes encourage you to think about portion control and variety – both things that I really needed. Because bento styled boxes are made up of little compartments, there’s only so much you can fit in it. These compartments help separate food (I can’t stand food blending or touching), and keep crunchy things from getting soggy. It also alleviates the need to use extra packaging, such as plastic baggies, making less lunch trash each day (and saving money, too)!

My PlanetBox

A PlanetBox with Koi magnets
A PlanetBox with Koi magnets

While doing research and reading bento blogs, I took note that the actual lunch box you choose is a pretty big deal to folks who are into bento. You can easily head to the local Wal-Mart and pick up a cheap Rubbermaid food container with dividers for under $10. But, I wanted to encourage myself to be dedicated to this choice, so I researched boxes that bloggers were recommended.

What I ended up getting was a PlanetBox. Now, I will say up front that I spent more on this than I’d usually spend for a lunch box – they are not cheap. However, being made of stainless steel, and quite high quality, I doubt I’ll need another lunch box for a long, long time.

I’ve been using mine for about a month now, and I’ve been pleased with it. In fact, I took it to a working lunch meeting a few weeks ago, and all the girls at the office noticed it instantly and adored it. Even the resident foodie oohed and ahhhed about how healthy I packed my lunch!

Todays Lunch!
My lunch today!

It doesn’t take long to clean or pack nightly, which is a plus. It also comes with little dipping containers, which can be used for things like salads and dressings – I have yet to try these out. I try very hard to put a good variety in my boxes each day, stressing fresh fruits and vegetables. I don’t disallow myself something salty/crunchy (such as pretzels). But the box’s compartment keeps the portions small, which is far better than devouring handfuls of chips or such.

So far, this has been pretty successful for me. I have enough variety to keep me from getting bored. Though portions are small, there are many types of different foods, so I don’t leave work ravenous and overeat at dinner as a result. I’ve also made strides to portion control dinner and pick up a variety enough to prevent the desire to order a random pizza instead of eating something healthier.

I’m starting to add an exercise regimen – the P90 series, which I will review later – and hope that this will see a gradual improvement in health and fitness over time. Hopefully blogging about it every now and then will also help keep me accountable… and maybe give you guys some ideas on small changes for a healthier lifestyle.

What do you do for lunch?