Operation Supervixen: Things I've Learnt About Healthy Eating Along The Way

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Operation Supervixen is my own personal transformation programme. In July 2014, I decided I was utterly fed up of being miserable, unwell and feeling like I wasn't reaching my full potential in life. To combat this, I decided I was going to radically transform my diet, maintain an exercise routine and centre my leisure activities around personal development. To keep me accountable and help others in the process, I started Operation Supervixen

Until I was about 18, I couldn't have cared less about healthy eating. I was an insanely fussy easter and fruit and veg was just not something that appealed to me. At university, I started becoming more open minded about food, partly because it was cheaper to eat a variety of different foods, partly because a friend and I actually bonded over cooking all our meals together. For the first time, I started enjoying vegetables and actively incorporating them into my diet, and I felt great for it.

However, it wasn't until I graduated that I started getting serious about my health and consequently, the food I put in my body. Previously I had been under the impression that as long as you drank lots and water and got your "5 a day" then you could call yourself a healthy eater. As it turns out, it isn't that simple. Here are a few of the things I've learnt about healthy eating along the way...

There are far too many conflicting opinions about what is healthy and what isn't

Fruit for example. I always viewed eating fruit as the epitome of healthy eating, but it turns out, there are those who say you should actually avoid it because of the sugar content. Gluten is another example - it's very trendy to avoid it at the moment because of the "health benefits" but there are those who say that unless you are genuinely intolerant or allergic to it, you're not actually doing yourself a favour by avoiding it. How about juice diets? There are those who swear by them as a way to reset your health but there are those who think they're insane. How on earth do you know which advice to take? 

Personally, I've decided to aim to include a decent sized portion (at least) of fruit and/or veg with every meal while cutting back on sugar, fat, fizzy drinks, tea and coffee. Doing so is making me feel 100% better than living oFf junk and fast food, but it doesn't make me crazy like trying to live off juice did. It's all about finding a diet that works for you and makes you feel healthy inside out.

It takes a lot of careful planning and organisation 

When you're actively trying to eat a healthier diet, I hate it to say it, but gone are the days of lazy meals and convenience. This has been one of the hardest things for me to accept. I love convenience and I hate "wasting" my evenings on cooking when I could be doing a number of other things. Unfortunately, really healthy eating doesn't work like that. It involves meal planning, it involves a lot of prep, it involves actual cooking. Nine times out of ten, something that comes ready-made isn't going to be as good for you as something you've made yourself.

The good news is that the healthier you eat, the more energy and enthusiasm you have, so eventually, all this organisation, planning and cooking becomes much less of an energy drain and a chore.

It's expensive - but worth it

Sad, but true. Fresh fruit and vegetables are particularly expensive, and if you're a meat-eater, cooking your own food from scratch can often become pretty pricy. I'm a girl who likes a lot of variety; I can't just eat the same thing for days in a row and so after my rent each month, food is often my biggest expenditure. I've seen so many articles about being healthy on a budget but all the recipes bore me to tears or actually don't fit in with my own personal idea of healthy.

The good news is that it's actually not much more expensive than living off ready meals. If like me, you were very, very partial to takeaways before your healthy living journey started, then it's actually LOADS cheaper to be healthy. Because healthy eating takes organisation and planning, you can actually avoid the need for takeaways, ready meals and buying expensive snacks all the time. So, even though fruit and veg IS expensive up front, because of the careful thought that goes into healthy eating, you can still end up saving money.

Plus, for me, my health is a huge priority and I am happy to spend a bit more on food and cut down in other areas.

The vast majority of healthy recipe books and blogs will do your head in because they're full of obscure ingredients 

I'm sick to the back teeth of the idea that you need a variety of fancy powders like Spirulina and ridiculously expensive items like quinoa to lead a healthy lifestyle. For the longest time, one of my biggest barriers to leading a healthy lifestyle was the idea that had been put in my head that I had to have access to very expensive and hard to find items.

As I mentioned above, healthy eating is actually all about finding a diet that works for you and for me, that just means making a conscious, active effort to increase the fruit and vegetables I eat while decreasing things which are definitely bad for you in large quantities such as sugar.

I don't eat quinoa, I don't eat alfalfa sprouts. This doesn't mean I am automatically unhealthy.

"Cheat Meals" are never going to be as good as the real thing

I'm sure there are those of you out there who really, genuinely enjoy meals based on fruit and vegetables but for me, I admit, it's an absolute chore and I have to work really hard to get the nutrients I need in a way that is tasty and satisfying. I'm always going to love camembert and a baked camembert with some bread all to myself is always going to sound more appealing than a vegetable stir fry. Making noodles out of courgette or making a pizza base out of cauliflower is an amazing way to make your favourite treats much healthier - but it's never going to be the real thing.

I've decided that I'm not going to accept substitutes in my healthy living journey. I will have the things I want, whether it's a cheeky Domino's or camembert or a McDonalds. Maybe I won't lose weight as fast as I want to and maybe I won't feel like superwoman all the time, but tasty food makes me genuinely happy. I've just had to find a balance - make things things a TREAT not a daily occurence and ensure the rest of my diet is up to scratch in between.

Everything tastes better in a smoothie

I think the growing popularity of smoothies and juices has been a god send for fussy eaters like me everywhere. I don't know what it is, but I just find fruit and veg so much more tolerable when it's mashed up into smoothie form. Avocados for example - LOVE the nutrients they provide and the texture the add to my smoothie but urghhh, you're not gonna find me EATING one.  

What lessons do you have when it comes to healthy eating?