Can You Pick the Healthy Bento Box?

By Jim F

Bento is a popular form of Japanese food. It is typically a boxed meal made up rice, fish, or other meat. Available at sushi outlets and other Japanese restaurants bento is typically seen as a low-calorie food.

The Just Bento blog has a great feature that compares two bento boxes.
Below are two bento. The two containers on the left form the first bento, the remaining containers on the right form the second bento.

One totals 940 Calories, the other 445 Calories.

Which is which?
8-bento.jpg


The bento on the right is 940 Calories. With the skin on the chicken, the fried rice, and the sauteed sprouts –  around 500 Calories is added onto the plainer fare on the left.
Filed in Meals,

25 Comments

  1. Laura

    The second from the left looks like a real calorie bomb with all of that white rice! I find rice will pack on the pounds faster than anything.
    The far left with the grilled chicken and vegetables is definitely the most appealing. Looks good!

    Reply
  2. T. Kallmyer

    What’s a vegitanian?

    Reply
  3. Alex

    Personally I like none cuz i am a VEGITANIAN!

    Reply
  4. the Oracle

    The Bento Box on the left has double the amount of rice for a diabetic meal. I would skip half the rice and enjoy the rest.

    Reply
  5. Linds

    I found this rather easy; naturally the bento with the fried rice and fried chicken would be higher calorie.

    Reply
  6. Susan

    Huh. It turns out there are Japanese diet rules to packing a bento box so that the amount of calories equals the volume of the box in milliliters, no more. I found them here with a chart of what size bento box to get according to age, height, etc. http://lunchinabox.net/2007/03/07/guide-to-choosing-the-right-size-bento-box/

    Reply
  7. sheddingpounds

    They all look pretty good, like someone else said it is starting to make me hungry too!

    Reply
  8. Fitness_Fanatic

    No one should eat that much rice in a sitting. The bento box on the most left looks the most balanced. I’d eat that one.

    Reply
  9. joanne

    i would prefer brown rice to white but the healthier one actually looks better to me than the other one. what all is in that nasty looking fried rice?

    Reply
  10. Kailash

    Who seriously needs that much rice to go with their food? Looks like the restaurant reduced the cost of the bentos by putting in so much.

    Reply
  11. Spectra

    I picked the one on the right to have more calories…I figured the fried skin on the chicken and the fried rice would add quite a few extra calories. Still, it looks like both of those have a lot of rice in them. Rice has a lot of calories per cup…you could reduce the calories in both by replacing some of the rice with some steamed veggies.

    Reply
  12. Fitness_Fanatic

    Jen said:
    OH MY GOD! No wonder I’m still stuck at this plateau!!! The bento box on the right is practically my calories for the whole day!!! Thanks. I’ll share this with my co workers who worship bento boxes. =)[…]

    You eat 940 calories for a whole day?

    Reply
  13. Jen

    OH MY GOD! No wonder I’m still stuck at this plateau!!! The bento box on the right is practically my calories for the whole day!!! Thanks. I’ll share this with my co workers who worship bento boxes. =)

    Reply
  14. Chubby Mommy

    Well, I had been planning on a nice, plain broiled chicken breast with a small salad for dinner. Now I’m in the mood for fried chicken.

    Thanks. Thanks so much.

    Reply
  15. Jim

    It wasn’t a trick. The two boxes on the right (which form a single bento) have both fried rice and skin on the chicken – contributing an extra 500 cals to their steamed skinless counterparts.

    Reply
  16. lisa

    jen hunter did not win ‘make me a supermodel’, so before you go trying to prove your point, get your facts right

    Reply
  17. eric

    Red said:
    But what if you poured all natural Pepsi RAW over the right Bento box. I’m not sure it’d even out the calories, but it’d sure be delicious.[…]

    LOL, exactly 🙂 all natural!

    Reply
  18. Fitness_Fanatic

    I’d take real bento boxes made by Japanese housewives over some imitation crap. Alas, I don’t have a Japanese housewife.

    Reply
  19. Red

    But what if you poured all natural Pepsi RAW over the right Bento box. I’m not sure it’d even out the calories, but it’d sure be delicious.

    Reply
  20. Ali from The Office Diet

    Laura, I think you did get it right, if I understand Jim correctly! The one on the right is fried rice and the one on the left, with the green stuff, is the “good” bento.

    For me, this illustrates how fairly small actions, such as choosing one meal over another at a fast-food place, can add up to a big impact on your diet…

    Ali

    Reply
  21. Katie

    The skin on the chicken isn’t really important, since both actually have it still on. And another problem with the fried rice is that it’s packed in the larger of the two tiers. It wouldn’t be so much a problem if it were packed as the steamed rice is.

    But obviously, the one on the left is much more balanced.

    Reply
  22. staci

    i think portion must have something to do with the calories, what are the dimensions of the “bentos”? but i agree with lola, whether its in a box or not, obviously the fried foods would yeild a higher calorie count than their steamed counter parts… no?

    Reply
  23. lola

    see i think that was pretty easy

    fried chicken with the skin, fried rice… its quite obviously got more cals

    Reply
  24. Laura

    See, I think that’s kind of a trick question when you don’t know exactly what the foods are. The one on the right looked like fried rice to me, while the left looked like steamed white rice. And of course, there was the psychological factor of seeing lots of green in the left box 🙂 Just shows you have to really know what you’re eating and not just go by looks alone!

    Reply
  25. Mark

    Making me hungry just looking at that I think just looking at that would make most people want to eat it. I know I would mmmm never mind the calories.

    Reply