Every month, we bring you profiles of women across America whose commitment to health includes their mind, body, spirit, and community. These inspiring women share stories of how they’ve reinvented their lives and careers, embarked on exciting new life journeys, and found ways for themselves and their families to achieve optimal health.
SoL Sister: Mareya Ibrahim of Southern California
Mareya is a natural products/food industry veteran, marketer and passionate foodie. She’s also the host for Fit Foody Fridays segment on San Diego’s TV Channel 6. She began her food and retail marketing career writing about sustainable agriculture and food safety issues 15 years ago when she was the demo manager and editor of Alfalfa’s Markets monthly magazine, “Healthy Choices.”
Mareya launched Eat Cleaner after her dad, a Colorado State University Emeritus Professor and Ph.D., environmental health science, was diagnosed with prostate and bladder cancer about 2 ½ years ago. But thanks to early detection and a diet filled with clean fruit, vegetables and lean protein, her father continues to thrive and inspire his entire family. It was this event that sparked the fire to start Eat Cleaner, which they saw as a way to help others that care about their families to take small steps toward improving their health.
Eat Cleaner’s mission is to set the record straight on what’s on our plates and help everyone take matters into their own hands. It goes beyond a product. It’s a way of life.
Mareya shared with us some of the healthy habits she and her family follow.
1. What’s your favorite good health habit?
Eat or drink a power packed mini meal every 3-4 hours. It helps stave off cravings for junk by controlling blood sugar – something everyone needs to watch. It’s no fun for the people around you to be in a bad mood because you’re hungry!
2. What do you look for first when it comes to finding “clean” products?
Become an expert in what I call ‘labelese’ to really understand the language of ingredients to find products that don’t contain artificial chemicals, preservatives, flavors, sweeteners or colors. I also look at the sugar and sodium content, proportion of fat to calories and where the fat is coming from (not all are created equal). I also look to see what the total nutritional benefit is. If it’s low in calories but doesn’t offer anything to speak of in terms of sound sustenance, why bother? My Cleaner Plate Club and segments on San Diego 6 are all about pre-vetting products.
3. What tips do you give people who are first starting out on following a clean diet?
Begin by cleaning out your pantry and fridge. No sense in trying to reset if you have temptation lurking in your kitchen. That goes for your candy bowls and desk drawers, too! Cut all soda and anything artificial. Next, stock up on fresh fruit and veggies and pre-wash with Eat Cleaner Fruit + Vegetable Wash so they’re ready to eat when you are. It also helps them last longer so you have less waste. Make half your plate at meal and snack time consist of something plant based. Finally, tons of water!
4. You have a line of Eat Cleaner food washes and wipes for produce, seafood and poultry that are lab proven to remove significantly more wax and residue from the surface of fresh food than water. Why did you decide to create this line of products?
I’ve been in the natural foods industry for 19 years and have seen food borne illness become such a tremendous issue with so many people impacted by it – but without a way to defend themselves. So, I partnered with my father, a scientist and a cancer survivor to create a simple, effective way for families like ours to help protect their plates. Eat Cleaner addresses what water can’t, and it’s over 99% more effective in removing agricultural residue that can carry bacteria and pesticide residue and the wax that can trap it under the surface. No matter how hard you scrub, water isn’t cutting it! Parasites, handling residue and just the fact over 20 different sets of hands have touched your fresh food makes you want to really clean it. We created the wash for home use and biodegradable wipes for when you’re on the go. When my daughter was big enough to sit up in the grocery cart, she’d always want an apple but I never had a convenient way to clean it. So the Wipes were created in honor of my apple girl! We pack them in both of my kid’s lunchboxes and it’s second nature for them to clean with it.
5. What’s your favorite way to enjoy SoL?
I absolutely love SoL as a base for smoothies. I can’t have dairy so it’s a great alternative for me. I blend it in with other antioxidant powerhouses like pumpkin and flax and add in almond butter and ice and it’s incredibly refreshing – like sunshine in a glass!