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Conventional Dietetics Training: Opinions from Real Food RDs

“Can I really do this?”

That thought went through my head more times than I can count when I was completing my conventional dietetics training.

If you’ve ever thought about training to become a nutritionist, or have been disappointed with the advice you got when you sought the help of one, you’re probably not surprised by my sentiments.

I’m not the only dietitian who feels this way.

In fact, two of my colleagues – one who’s a practicing integrative & functional dietitian and another who’s a fabulous nutritionist already, but is in the midst of conventional RD training – are on the exact same page.

These powerhouses, Ayla Withee and Diana Rodgers, host the Real Food Radio podcast.

They invited me on the show to share a bit about my personal story – the challenges of completing hospital-based dietetics training and how I got to where I am in my practice.

Of course, I can’t do an interview without talking about my passion: gestational diabetes. And since both Ayla and I were pregnant at the time of recording, we really dug deep into the nitty gritty about gestational diabetes.

Listen in as I share a bit about my personal experience with the gestational diabetes diagnostic test as a pregnant woman (including my choice to get screened for gestational diabetes and why, even though the test isn’t perfect, I drank the glucola anyways.

I hope you’ll give this a listen!

Here’s what we cover:

  • How I navigated through my conventional dietetic training to embrace a real food approach to nutrition and wellness
  • When hospital-based dietetics is life saving and where it falls short
  • Little-known facts about the glucose tolerance test for gestational diabetes
  • Questioning the validity of the standard gestational diabetes screening methods and my recommendations for best practice (I’ve talked about this before here with Robb Wolf and here with the Real Food Mamas.)
  • My personal experience with the glucose tolerance test (why I drank the glucola and what happened when I “failed”)
  • My clients’ attitudes towards adopting a gestational diabetes diet and the contradictory advice surrounding GD intervention and prenatal care
  • More about my “real food approach” for managing gestational diabetes, naturally
  • Ayla and I, both pregnant when we recorded this interview, share our yummy (and blood sugar friendly) meals as Real Food RDs

I hope you enjoyed my gestational diabetes interview on Real Food Radio as much as I did.

Before you go, I’d love to hear from you:

  • What are your thoughts about how dietitians are trained? Whether you’re an aspiring dietitian, have had mixed results from working with one, or are a practicing RD, I’m curious to hear about your experience.
  • If you’ve been screened for gestational diabetes during a current or previous pregnancy, what was your experience like?

Until next week,


P.S. Do you (or someone you know) have diabetes? There’s an awesome free telesummit coming up with 33 interviews from diabetes experts. (I’ll be speaking about gestational diabetes. Surprise, surprise.)

Buuut, you’ve gotta be signed up to listen in. Register here.

I just saw the schedule and I gotta say, I’m a little intimidated to be sharing the stage on April 19th with the big guns, like Dr. Sarah Ballantyne and Dr. Daniel Kalish. Yikes!

Hope you can make it. Please spread the word about this free event to friends and family!

Lily Nichols on the Diabetes World Summit speaking about real food for gestational diabetes

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Lily Nichols is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist, Certified Diabetes Educator, researcher, and author with a passion for evidence-based prenatal nutrition and exercise. Her work is known for being research-focused, thorough, and unapologetically critical of outdated dietary guidelines. She is the author of two bestselling books, Real Food for Pregnancy and Real Food for Gestational Diabetes.


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  1. Hi Lily,
    I am a practicing RD for about 12 years now. I have done it all. Including the clinical dietetics where inpatient education was nearly impossible and not very rewarding as a result. I currently work with women and children and dabble in private practice. It is aspiring to see role model dietitians such as you speaking up about guidelines that are out dated. I’ve always had that feeling but hearing it from other professionals is validating. I wonder when dietetic schooling will catch up with the changing research? Great to hear your story on GTT too! As always I enjoy hearing and learning from you!

    • Thank you! I, too, wonder how long it will be until clinical practice/training catches up with the research. I think it’s up to us, as practitioners, to stay current with the research and speak up. Keep on keepin’ on, Sarah.

  2. I too am frustrated by outdated and unreliable recommendations that circulate in our field. It is difficult too, to make new recommendations when research is lacking as well. We are in a new and exciting period in the field of nutrition and dietetics, and I’m hopeful that our professional organization continues to improve and push and support RDNs as WE pave our own new path.
    I learned so much during my training, and I was surprised by so much as well (both positive and negative). But, it’s like anything else. You take what speaks to you, and you can leave the rest that doesn’t feel evidence-based. Years of work in nutrition have continued to encourage me to learn more, understand more, and ask more questions. But now, more than ever, I do feel like RDNs have an opportunity to push forward and be leaders in the field of nutrition.

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