Real Food For Pregnancy

‘What I like to do is reverse-engineer a prenatal diet from the context of getting most of—if not all of—your nutrients from the food itself.’

The problem with conventional policy and food guidelines? They simply don’t reflect science. In fact, the current recommendations were designed for men and then adjusted mathematically for a smaller frame—and then modified again to account for fetal growth.

Registered Dietician and Nutritionist Lily Nichols is familiar with the science, having reviewed 934 studies for her newly-released book, Real Food for Pregnancy. And she believes that we need a more holistic approach to nutrition, an approach that includes mindful eating and a focus on pairing carbohydrates with fat and protein to acquire the nutrients necessary for fetal development from our food.

Today, Lily joins me to share her path to becoming a dietician, explaining how she established her practice and what inspired her to become an author. She discusses how her own pregnancy affected her work and her current ‘pieced together’ childcare plan. Lily speaks to the fact that conventional nutrition policy doesn’t reflect science and offers her advice around nutrition during pregnancy. I ask her about postpartum nutrient needs and special considerations for pregnant women who exercise a great deal. Listen in for insight into Lily’s writing process and her emphasis on the value of mindful eating.

The Startup Pregnant Podcast Episode #043

Some quotes from the episode

  • “If there’s no childcare, no work gets done.”
  • “I didn’t become an entrepreneur to work 40 hours a week.”
  • “[I] started to really see—from the data—how much a child’s health could be impacted by what’s going on metabolically and nutritionally for a mother.”
  • “Children born to moms with poorly controlled gestational diabetes have a six-fold higher risk of being diagnosed with diabetes or becoming obese by the age of 13 compared to moms who don’t have that.”
  • “Something I’ve become known for is backing up what I say with the science to support it.”
  • “What I like to do is reverse-engineer a prenatal diet from the context of getting most of—if not all of—your nutrients from the food itself.”
  • “Women on average eat 45% of their calories from carbohydrates and less fat, less protein than they used to—and look at where we are metabolically.”
  • “I’m not anti-carbohydrates. I’m suggesting that we don’t need as high of a proportion of our diet to come from carbohydrates, and we should be really picky about … the quality of carbohydrates that we’re eating.”
  • “In the context of pregnancy, you need consistent fuel, and you’re more prone to some of these side effects of not eating often enough and feeling low energy more so when you’re pregnant … because you’re shunting nutrients to your baby, which means you need to refuel your tank more frequently yourself.”
  • “Pregnant or not, the more often you honor your hunger cues, the more you honor your fullness cues— and it just gets you in a very healthy, body-love situation … which always pays off.”
  • “There are days when a doughnut is actually the right answer.”
  • “What’s crazy is we know less about prenatal nutrition and fetal development than we’d like to admit.”
  • “We can’t just get everything in a prenatal vitamin, and [nutrients] may not be in the prenatal vitamin in optimal amounts because the optimal amounts may not have been defined yet. What did we do prior to supplements? People were able to have healthy pregnancies with food alone.”


Lily Nichols is a Registered Dietician and Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Educator with a passion for evidence-based nutrition. Her work draws from the current scientific literature as well as the wisdom of traditional cultures, and her expertise in prenatal nutrition makes her a well-respected consultant and speaker in the field. Her first bestseller, Real Food for Gestational Diabetes, has helped tens of thousands of women manage the condition and influenced nutrition policies internationally. Lily’s new release, Real Food for Pregnancy, is #1 in the Pregnancy and Childbirth category on Amazon.




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