Interview with Charlie from Charlie And The Healthy Factory
Talk about Inspiring, Empowering and Motivating! At 15 years old Charlie Barber seems way ahead of her time in regards to health and wellness.
She has a website called Charlie And The Healthy Factory where she shares her tips and recipes to inspire others to nourish their bodies from the inside out and create a fun, healthy lifestyle.
I knew I liked this girl when I stumbled across her website, especially when I discovered we share a mutual love for peanut butter (slightly obsessed) and avocados! We have a lot of parents who I thought would be interested in Charlie’s recipes and healthy living ideas, so have a read and share with your families!
Keep on reading for Charlies tips on swapping out fizzy drink, her favourite book for teenagers and her stance on Vegemite/Marmite…
A: I first created an Instagram account called sassandfit back in July 2014 when I first became more aware of my health, as a way to stay accountable and meet other, like-minded people. In October 2015 after having this account for over a year, I had a community of over 1300 following my journey. I then decided to rebrand my Instagram and create a website called Charlie and the Healthy Factory because I started to realize that health is so much more than single components such as fitness or food, but about everything combined. I wanted a space that I could post both recipes and lifestyle articles as a way of helping others along their journey. I also aimed to use my website in order to give concrete, easy-to- follow steps for teenagers in living a healthier lifestyle. It also meant that I had a space to post all of my recipes and have the opportunity to interview people I find inspiring, so that others, particularly teenagers can benefit.
Q: What do you want people to take away from reading your blogs and visiting your site?
A: I want people to be able to go to my website and be presented with a hub of health- whether that be if they want a motivational pick-me- up through a lifestyle article or are in the need of some recipe inspiration. I try to post a balance between these two things as well as interviews and more personal blogs to keep the blog varied and interesting. Personally, I like reading about other people’s journeys and routines, and that is why I enjoy interviewing others on areas of their expertise- there are some fantastic articles written by nutritionists about teenage health and one from a life coach on the mind-set of health for teenagers, which is the more psychology side of health- I find it very interesting.
Q: Do you think that there is an awareness in people your age about nourishing their bodies from the inside out?
A: I think as we transition from children to teenagers, we start to become far more aware of how certain foods affect us. This can show in many forms- skin, emotions, body feelings after eating and energy levels to name a few. So yes, I think people my age are becoming more aware that not all food is created equally and that unprocessed, wholefoods tend to make them feel healthier in the long run. However, I don’t think there is enough information out there for teenagers on exactly how to nourish their bodies- especially when there are so many conflicting messages out there about what ‘nourishment’ is defined as paleo, vegan, sugar-free, low carb high fat, high carb low fat- one can’t be sure. I try to synthesize what I read and help others nourish their bodies by providing easy recipes and tips for nourishment as I learn myself, without pushing a particular way of eating.
Q: Do you have any tips for teenagers or parents who would like to find out more about how to eat better and look after themselves or kids?
A: Try and limit the amount of processed food you buy or consume. Instead of filling up on packets of chips for example, try making some homemade kumera chips or even chopping up pita breads with a drizzle of olive oil and salt (both oh so good!).
If soft drinks are a problem, try purchasing carbonated water instead. I have twin eight year-old brothers, and this worked a treat in our household. The fizz jazzes up water and by just taking this small step, you are making a big difference to the sugar you or your children consume.
When considering what to buy at the supermarket, remember that nature tends to get it right and human intervention can sometimes get it wrong. Instead of buying seemingly healthy packaged snacks, try making a batch of bliss balls on a Sunday or seed crackers (I have some delicious recipes on my site- search Recipe Index). As I read recently, if you are looking at the back of packets, you are probably looking at the wrong food.
Q: What is one thing you would like your peers to know in regards to health and wellness?
A: I would love them to know that having good health and wellness is not another diet. It is not eating salad for lunch and exercising every day of the week either. When approaching how to live a healthier lifestyle, small, sustainable steps are so much better than dieting. I like to focus on the more- more fruits and vegetables, more water, more physical activity. Lifestyle is the key word here: health is not a fad; it is about making healthier choices in your everyday life. As the quote goes, one piece of cake won’t make you unhealthy just like one salad won’t make you healthy. It is making regular healthy choices that make a difference in your quality of life.
Q: What is your absolute favourite food? and worst?!
A: That is hard- but I must say peanut butter holds a special place in my heart. I have a tablespoon of it in my yoghurt, I put it in smoothies, bliss balls, raw treats… you name it! Avocado is most definitely a close second. My least favourite food would have to be marmite or vegemite. I have never liked it, and I don’t believe I ever will!
Q: You mention having the right mindset on your website, what does this mean to you and how do you practice this?
A: I believe that mindset is so important in making healthy choices. I practice having the right mindset simply- by always evaluating the why of my actions. To me, it means acting for the right reasons- I am waking up early to exercise because I like the way it makes me feel and I want to strengthen my body, not because I am scared of putting on weight or don’t like the way I look in X clothing. I choose to make my own lunches because I know the ingredients are going to nourish me for the school day, not that I am on a strict diet and canteen food doesn’t fall under the category of ‘allowed foods’. Just as importantly, I am eating this slice of cake because I’m at a special occasion and it looks delicious, not that I am eating cake because I’m bored or feel deprived. Or, I am choosing to have a day off exercise because I had a late night and sleep is the best choice here, not because I can’t be bothered. After all as Dr Libby eloquently puts it, it is what we do all the time that affects our health, not sometimes. My mindset is exactly that.
Q: How do you spend your school holidays?
A: I spent a large portion of this past holiday on a ten-day trip around the South Island which included completing the Otago Rail Trail, which is a four-day cycle from Clyde to Middlemarch. I love getting outdoors, so this was right up my alley and I loved the active nature of the holiday. When back in Wellington, I try to go to more yoga classes, catch up with friends, read books and prepare for the term ahead by getting a head start on some upcoming work. I do try my best to take a break and sharpen the saw so I feel rested for next term.
Q: Favourite book/movie/music?!
A: I love non-fiction: cookbooks, personal development, and any book remotely related to health are right up my alley. My favourite book would have to be The Seven Habits of Highly Successful Teenagers by Sean Covey. It is the only book I have ever read more than once because the information in it is so relevant to me at this point in my life.
In regards to health, my favourite movie would most definitely be That Sugar Film. I was lucky enough to meet the star, Damon Gameau at the Wellington premiere screening, and he was absolutely lovely. However, my favourite movie of all time would have to be The Help. We did a major study on Black Civil Rights in History last term, so now I have an even greater appreciation for it.
I love any music that could fall under the savasana category: relaxing and soothing. Usually I just press shuffle on Spotify under the ‘Chill’ category and let Spotify choose which songs I’ll listen to! In saying that, Jack Johnson, Florence and the Machine and Adele would be my favourite artists.
Q: Do you have any resources that could aid teenagers and parents in making healthier choices?
A: I created a lunchbox e-book at the beginning of this year called ‘Lunchbox Love’- six easy, delicious and nutritious recipes perfect for lunch time. You can grab that for free on my website: charlieandthehealthyfactory.com