Prime Paleo Tips for a Happy Family from Eat Play Live


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Jen and Karina from Eat Play Live had wafted across my consciousness a few times over the past six months as I traveled the paleosphere but it wasn’t until I saw a self-introduction from Karina on a membership site that I brought my paleo wagon to a screeching halt. Karina’s concise personal mission was so dead-on and in line with my own goals, I wished I’d written it myself. I was jealous.

Once I’d gotten over myself, I set about learning more about Eat Play Live, the paleo coaching business Jen and Karina started last year. I wanted to find out more about how they managed their families through the paleo transition, their philosophies, ideas and of course, tips!

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So I invited Jen and Karina to tell us more about what they do and how they work. How do they get their clients to build a strong paleo family? How do they manage to be working paleo moms? They were kind enough to elaborate and provide their insight on ways to create a successful paleo family, something I know can be challenging. I’m in England right now and, as we say here, take a gander…(means take a look. :-))

Tell us about Eat Play Live?

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Eat Play Live is a merging of two moms’ passions for helping families learn how to nourish their families and take time to play with their children.  Our society has moms overscheduling their children.  They run from activity to activity which does not allow time for unstructured play.  The unfortunate result of all of this is that they are feeding their kids from the drive thru or anything that can be tossed in a microwave.  It is our mission to help these families learn that whole, real foods are possible in a quick moving world!  To go along with this, we teach families how to combine exercise and play time through our Family Boot Camps.

What is your mission?

Educating and offering support to families about the simplicity of improved health through whole foods nourishment, fun through movement, and living a full life.   Where families can come to learn the truth about nutrition and optimal health.

How did you come to establish this business?

Upon getting both of our families on the right track, we came to the realization that our client-personal trainer relationship was evolving. We were mutually encouraging one another on this journey to improved family health, and the support was invaluable. Our passions were lining up! We wanted to share what we were experiencing with others, and offer this same support to individuals and families seeking true health and wellness.

In January 2012 we moderated a 21-Day Sugar Detox created by Diane Sanfilippo of Balanced Bites. We had a tremendous response and dozens of positive feedback from the program. The demand for ongoing support, solid nutrition information, and how to take the next step toward even greater improved health is what gave birth to Eat Play Live.

What gaps does EPL seek to fill for your clients?

When someone starts changing their diet and lifestyle, it can be a daunting.  We invite our clients become a part of the Eat Play Live family, and we offer them support and guidance.  We provide both sound research and emotional support during their transition, giving them tips and strategies on how to make this a lifestyle – not just a quick fix.

What services do you provide?

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Bootcamps and outdoor activities for both adults and kids are a feature of the EPL strategy to get families more in line with paleo principles.

Nutrition counseling, three- and six- month health/nutrition coaching programs, kitchen/pantry clean-outs, health food store tours, shopping within a budget, an at-home exercise program, program evaluation and modification, family boot camps and 21-Day Sugar Detox Program moderation.

Do you work remotely? If so, how do you do that?

Yes, we both work out of our homes/cars/parks!  We both work “mom hours”, so our kids come first.  We talk on a daily basis and meet about once/week to discuss where we are with the business. Unlimited texting plans come in handy as we navigate our respective schedules.  It might sound a bit unstructured and that we “fly by the seat of our pants,” but we make it work.

What are the three things families must do no matter what is happening in their lives to keep this paleo thing going?

1. First and foremost is PREPARATION!  If you don’t take the time to plan your week, you will set yourself up to fail.  We encourage parents to take a look at their upcoming schedule and decide in advance what they are going to prepare for meals each day.

2. Keep that freezer stocked!  Ironically, we are both in the process of relocating our families to new homes, and even though we may not be doing a perfect job of planning our weeks, we still have quality food to pull from when in a pinch.

3. Communicate to your kids why they should eat the foods that you prepare for them.  We feel it is important to avoid the “militant parent” approach – forcing the kids to eat healthy food without explanation.  We take the time to teach them why a specific foods are vital to keeping them healthy and strong.  We are encouraged because it seems to be sinking in!  It’s rewarding to hear them telling other children why they eat certain foods.

Are you both paleo?

We are both “versions” of paleo.  Our families keep raw, unpasturized dairy in our diet.  We like to describe our lifestyle as ”Just Eating Real Food.”  We JERF it out. (Thanks Sean Croxton for that one!)  We also incorporate several traditional foods such as organ meats, bone broth and we ferment our own sauerkraut.  We focus more on the nutrient density and quality of the foods rather than trying to decide whether or not something fits into a label.

Who is your typical client?

Our typical clients are mothers who are attempting to give their families a chance at lifelong health and wellness.

What pitfalls do you notice your clients commonly fall into and how do you help them get out of it?

It is very easy for parents to slip into keep things simple and sticking to the basics.  As their schedules complicate they tend to make things more complicated than they really need to be.  A few missed workouts and next thing you know, pizza delivery guy is ringing the doorbell.  We equip families with strategies based on early recognition of when they are sliding down the slippery slope.

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Kids practicing EPL paleo principles

The more ownership that our husbands and kids have in health, fitness and general wellness, the more likely everyone is to buy in.  If Mom and Dad are a united front, it sets a tremendous example for our children.  We give our children an opportunity to buy into what we are selling, by making them an instrumental part of the process.  We believe in honesty, transparency, support, and keeping a sense of humor along the way.   Our motto is: “We don’t just feed our families.  We NOURISH them.”

What do you say when people tell you they can’t afford to go paleo?

Funny you should ask, we had a revelation one day while discussing this very topic because we hear it a lot!  We each spend about $300/week to feed our families at the grocery store to feed our respective families of five.  That breaks down to $60/person/week to eat REAL, nutritious, high quality food for  three meals /day plus snacks.  One dinner out at a basic chain restaurant will run a family of five at least $60 plus tip.  That one meal could feed one family member for an entire week.  BOOM!

How did you transition your families to the lifestyle?  How easy was it and how did you justify it to them?

We adopted a new mindset and starting thinking in terms of our familes being a team.  We inserted our kids in the starting lineup.  We took them to the grocery store. Included them in menu selection.  Had them help with food preparation. Gave them the opportunity to buy in to what you are selling, by making them an instrumental part of the process.

How do you handle the outside influences of the non-paleo world on your kids eating and how do you deal with it yourself?

One of the most important parts of our day is dinner time.  This is when we facilitate the discussion of what food was offered to them at school, what choices they made around these offerings and we equip them with strategies to make better choices.  Our children have come to the point where if they eat too much sugar or processed foods, they recognize themselves that they do not feel well and that their bodies are not functioning optimally.  We use this as a teaching moment.

We are far enough in our journeys that we can plan in advance to make choices or indulge knowing the consequences of our decisions.

What do you give your kids for school lunch?

  • Rolled up deli meat/Beef jerky/Summer Sausage/Beef sticks/Chicken nuggets
  • Celery/Carrots/Bell Peppers/Cucumbers/Broccoli
  • Almonds/Pistachios/Walnuts/Pecans/Macadamia Nuts/Coconut Flakes
  • Dried or fresh fruit
  • Water
  • Raw Cheese/Yogurt

What’s your top tip to beat sugar cravings?

Get enough sleep!

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Kids: the ultimate resistance weight.

We are getting back to basics.  Our grandparents had it right.  Quality of food matters, traditional food matters, “breaking bread” together matters, prioritizing health within the family structure matters.

We can lead by example and invite people into our homes and lives so they can see the benefits of a whole foods lifestyle.  It is important that we not only model but that we educate our children on preventative health through whole foods nutrition.


One thing I really took away from this interview is the importance of communicating with the kids why we eat paleo. It dovetails nicely with what Sarah Fragoso said recently – trust your kids to make good decisions, don’t stand guard over them watching them take every bite. Doing the groundwork by explaining what paleo is and why it is important we eat that way makes trusting them much easier. And more effective. I think that is smart advice from Karina and Jen. Check out the Eat Play Live website for more info about their philosophies and activities.

Are you doing any of these things Jen and Karina mention, and if so how are they working for you? Tell us in the comments!

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Written by 

Alison Golden writes on the topic of paleo over at Paleo/NonPaleo. She aims to share ideas, inspire and motivate readers by teaching them how to live paleo in a non-paleo world. She is also the author of the bestselling book, The Modern, No-Nonsense Guide to Paleo, a unique tool that gives the reader hundreds of strategies to navigate the learning process to successful paleo living.

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