Posted: Aug 01, 2012 12:00 PM
When you are chasing kids around, making sure that you are providing them with nutritious, kid-approved foods, it's easy to slack off your own nutrition. Packing a bento box ahead of time is a great way to set yourself up for a healthy lunch.

There are many little secrets that no one tells you before you have kids.

One of the biggest is that once you have little ones (who need to be fed healthy foods) your lunch will consist of one of two things:

  1. Nothing.
  2. A half-eaten chicken nugget, a cast-aside apple peal, a handful of Goldfish, and your cold, half-empty mug of coffee from the early morning hours.

When you have children, it's easy to get so wrapped up in getting them where they need to go -- meanwhile providing them with the nutrients they need to grow and thrive -- that it is easy for us (the moms) to get lost in the shuffle.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health stresses that making healthy food choices can help prevent heart disease, stroke and perhaps other diseases. They recommend that women should eat mainly the following:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Grains (at least half of your grains should be whole grains, such as whole wheat, oatmeal and brown rice)
  • Fat-free or low-fat versions of milk, cheese, yogurt and other milk products
  • Fish, skinless poultry, lean red meats, dry beans, eggs and nuts
  • Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats

This particular bento* is packed with:bento box

  • Whole grain, low carbohydrate tortillas
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Lean chicken
  • Lettuce
  • Black olives
  • Taco sauce
*You can purchase this bento box at Pottery Barn Kids.

Packing yourself a bento box each evening or early in the morning helps make a healthy choice when it's the middle of the day and you're too busy to make yourself lunch -- and your kids' grilled cheese sandwich crusts start looking like your best option.

Other great bento box choices include:

  • Strawberries, raspberries and blueberries
  • String cheese
  • Whole wheat crackers
  • Rolled up lean, low-sodium deli meat
  • Apple slices (dip them in juice to stave off browning)
  • Greek yogurt with granola
  • Hummus and pita triangles with peppers and cucumbers for dipping
  • Leftover chicken breast

Yes, we're busy. Yes, our kids come first. But that doesn't mean that we don't need to make time for our own nutrition.

Try packing a bento box for a few nights and see how much better you'll feel when you're taking care of yourself too.

More about food

Fun sandwich ideas for kids
Going gluten-free
Eat a rainbow every day