Bento boxes: The perfect tools to combat portion distortion (and an idea)

UPDATE: Details of the Challenge are now up here! We'll start on January 13th.

There was an interesting article in The Washington Post on Sunday, titled <a href=http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/07/AR2008120701048.html">Portion Distortion. The gist of is it that Americans (but I think this is a growing problem worldwide) have become so used to Supersize meals and Big Gulp beverages that their sense of what is a 'proper' portion of food has gotten totally distorted.

One method for weight control suggested by experts quoted in the article is to use a small salad plate all the time. This is a good idea on principle, but really, a plate is just a flat thing with no limit vertically. I've seen some very creative, even architectural, piles of food at a local restaurant, where the salad bar is priced by the plate size!

On the other hand, a bento box gives you a hard limit in all three dimensions. If you fill up a bento box over the rim, you can't close the lid! So, you are forced to stay within that limit. Of course you do still have to make healthy choices for what to put in your bento box (see Skinny vs. Not-so Skinny Bento) and select the right size bento box for you (see Selecting the right bento box). But I do think that, for at least one meal a day, it can be a powerful tool for weight loss, or at least for weight gain prevention!

I have a little idea growing...

This article, and the several pounds I seem to have gained while I was away last month (grr), have me thinking. I know that for the rest of this month, it's going to be an effort just to stop my pants from getting even tighter. But come January, I'm planning to re-focus on losing some weight and getting back on the healthy-eating bandwagon with both feet, and bento boxes are going to be a main tool in that effort. Would anyone like to follow this kind of plan along with me? I haven't thought through all of the details of how it would work yet, but if you're interested, just let me know in the comments.

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