Book Review - Real Food for Pregnancy

I had the opportunity to write up a book review on Lily Nichols newest book, entitled Real Food for Pregnancy. This is an excellent book! Can I just tell you that I have never read a nutrition pregnancy book like this before. I was so excited to read a book filled with useful information and practical guidelines for practitioners and also for the general public. Lily did an an amazing job talking about nutrition recommendations for this important time in lots of a woman’s life. I also really appreciated the push for real food and using full fat food items made me happy. I love good food and often during pregnancy it is hard to eat and so having something nutritionally rich and delicious is a huge win!

Disclaimer: I was given this book for free in return for writing a review. I was dedicated to writing what my thoughts and professional opinion was as a Registered Dietitian, despite getting this book for free. All the information and feedback provided below are my true feelings and recommendations regarding the information written in this book.

Favorite Highlights from the Book

  • To start off the book, Lily answers the question of why real food? I love that because most women get so many mixed messages about nutrition, I love that she just answers why eating whole food matters.

  • She discusses what real food looks like during pregnancy and the different food groups. She talks about mindful eating and meal timing and how to choose those healthy options. Since that is the title of the book, I love that she covered that in chapter 2.

  • Chapter 3 dives into foods that build a healthy baby. I love these recommendations, because they aren’t ways discussed with your OB or midwife. Foods that she highlights are eggs, liver, meat on the bone, leafy green, seafood, full fat diary and why vegetarianism is very challenging when pregnant. So I have admit that because of this chapter I have been eating 1 egg every morning throughout my entire pregnancy. I recognized that I wasn’t getting enough protein in my diet in the morning and that helped with my nausea, plus eggs are a source of choline. “Egg yolks and liver have, by far, the highest concentrations of choline compared with any other foods.” - p.30. Choline is helping your baby’s brain to develop appropriately and most women do not get near enough choline from their diet.

  • On the flip side there is a whole chapter devoted to foods that don’t build a healthy baby in chapter 4. I thought this was a refreshing way to look at the commonly forbidden food items and consider eating on the “safe side’ versus risking nutrient deficiencies.

  • Who doesn’t love a chapter of meal plans. Chapter 5 goes through meal plan ideas and 7 days worth of real food meal plans for you.

  • There is a whole chapter devoted to supplements. In chapter 6, Lily covers everything from prenatal vitamins to chia seed, probiotics and gelatin. I learned so much from this section and just understanding why my own diet would be insufficient and how my prenatal vitamin might be less than perfect as well.

  • What pregnancy book could be complete without a chapter on common complaints from nausea to heart burn and weight gain. These topics are covered and recommendations given on how to deal with common issues for pregnant women.

  • Another topic near and dear to my heart is exercise. Chapter 8 discusses physical activity and pelvic floor strength. I am so glad that Lily discusses the importance of exercise throughout pregnancy and how that looks as the weeks and months go by.

  • Throughout pregnancy women end up with lots of lab work that is drawn. Lily provides a breakdown on what lab tests are normally run and what speciality labs you might want to ask your health care provider about.

  • Chapter 10 and Lily’s discussion about toxins was very eye opening for me. I ditched my plastic containers in my kitchen and switched to all glassware. After reading this chapter I knew that I had to make some chances and now (being pregnant) was as good a time as any to really clean up our house and change some of our habits.

  • The next chapter was short and focused on stress and mental health. This was a good reminder that this phase can be stressful, before, during and after pregnancy and being mindful of that increased stress is important.

  • The final chapter was about the fourth trimester. I am a strong believer in this last part of pregnancy and it is commonly the area that is overlooked and not focused on. This time after baby arrives is quite the transition period for you physically, emotionally and mentally. Know how to cope during this time and then setting realistic expectations will help to set you up for success.

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Why I love this for ALL women!

I wanted to focus on why this book is a must read for any woman who is thinking about being pregnant or wanting to have children in the future. This is a great and easy read. The information provided by Lily is extremely easy to understand and then if you have follow up questions about the research that she presents, all the citations are at the end of each chapter. There is SO much information in this book and I would say most of it is very eye opening. I love her philosophy to encourage women to eat real foods and not to try to follow some unrealistic “diet.” Her recommended eating habits should be part of normal routines if we are pregnant or not.

Why I love this ALL Registered Dietitians!

Of course I had to share my love for my fellow RDs and encourage you all to read this book as well. If you happen to work with women and/or especially pregnant women then this is a MUST read for you. The research that went into writing this book is amazing and all the references are right there for you. You can easily share this with any OBs that you work with or other primary care physicians to help educate them on why a real food, healthy diet is important for all women, especially those who are pregnant. This is an easy read, even with all the research that is cited, and it touches on all the key nutrients that go into having a healthy pregnancy.

This is a MUST read!

This book is filled with so many amazing recommendations and backed with evidence-based research. It is a resource that should be used throughout healthcare to help provide women with the best tools to have a successful pregnancy. I work in a NICU and I see sick women having sick babies all the time. Healthy women tend to have healthy babies and that is better for all involved. We can’t keep all of these babies out of the NICU, but following the recommendations in this book definitely sets women up to be more successful and help care for their unborn babies to best of their ability.

Purchase this book HERE.

Check out Lily Nichols, RDN, CDE’s webpage HERE.