EP 130: Nurturing with Food for Optimal Health in Pregnancy and Postpartum with Lily Nichols

In this episode, Kimberly and Lily discuss issues with conventional nutritional guidelines for pregnancy, which foods provide needed nutrients during pregnancy, and the importance of proper nourishment postpartum. Lily’s research on how food affects pregnancy culminates in her most recent book “Real Food for Pregnancy” which provides evidence-based data on best foods with the most health benefits, meal plans, and nutrient breakdowns for pregnancy and postpartum. Lily and Kimberly also discuss the commonalities between “Real Food for Pregnancy” and Kimberly’s “The Fourth Trimester” which both emphasize the importance of preparation and nourishment for postpartum.



Lily Nicholas is a registered dietician and nutritionist, certified diabetes educator, and has built her career researching real food for pregnancy and gestational diabetes. Her work includes prenatal nutrition public policy, consulting, research, writing, and clinical practice. Her best-selling books “Real Food for Gestational Diabetes” and “Real Food for Pregnancy” combine evidence-based and traditional information regarding prenatal nutrition. She also offers nutritional trainings for professionals.


What They Share

—Why mainstream dietary advice is misguided

—Which foods and nutrients are essential for pregnancy

—Health issues with vegetarian and vegan diets during pregnancy

—Food preparation and cooking tips

—Importance of nourishment postpartum


What You’ll Hear

—Prenatal nutrition guidelines are outdated

—Conventional nutrition advice for past forty years is unchanged

—Conventional nutritional advice as dogma with consequences in practice and public policy

—”Play it safe” approach for prenatal nutrition out of caution

—Focus on what can’t eat versus what can eat to optimize baby’s health

—Focus on macronutrients (fats, carbs, protein) and ratios is problematic

—Guidelines create deficiency in micronutrients and minerals

—Under-estimated amount of protein needed in pregnancy by 73%

—Deprivation, rigidity, fear around weight gain is common because of conventional guidelines

—Focus on taking away instead of making space for more (food, money, nutrients, etc.)

—Carbs need fat and protein for balanced blood sugar levels

—Unbalanced blood sugar extremes causes feeling out of willpower physiologically

—Body tells this information very clearly

—Kimberly describes deficiency from being vegetarian for years

—Blood sugar management as vegetarian is challenging

—More plant-based diets harder to manage and recover after pregnancy and birth

—Postpartum challenges due to vegetarianism (pelvic floor health, breastmilk production, blood sugar levels)

—Nutrients in animal foods easiest to get for optimal health

—Research shows fully vegan diets create nutrient deficiencies without supplementation

—Some nutrients may not be well-absorbed in vegan diet and create deficiency in baby’s health

—Nutrients need to be present and in synergy for optimal health (DHA and choline, for example) that even supplementation can’t mimic

—Recommends real whole food sources for optimal health in pregnancy and

—Experiencing mental health challenges on a vegetarian diet

—Shifting from cultural norms to making food preparation valuable

—Finding ways to make food prep and cook less time consuming

—”Real Food Instant Pot Recipes”

—”Lazy Meal Planning” on Lily’s blog

—Time for food prep and cooking for optimal health as self-care

—Cook in bulk, use leftovers, repurpose leftovers, batch cooking

—Differences in prenatal and postpartum

—Emphasize protein, don’t fear fat, higher quality carbs, less white flour carbs, produce and vegetables

—Greater emphasis on eating more and water intake during postpartum

——Mental health as addressing physiological needs especially postpartum

—Preparation for postpartum essential to health

—Ask for help postpartum

—First book chapter available for free

—Trainings for professionals in nutrition



Website: lilynicholdsrdn.com

IG: @lilynicholsrdn