Read the first chapter of real food for pregnancy for FREE.

Real Food for Pregnancy

There’s a lot of misinformation about prenatal nutrition, especially when it comes to real food for pregnancy.

Things like:

  • Limit your egg consumption because they’re high in cholesterol
  • Avoid liver because it’s too high in vitamin A
  • Take extra folic acid! (this part’s complex, so please keep reading for the full scoop)
  • Eat lean protein
  • You must eat plenty of carbohydrates for the baby

If you’re into traditional, real foods, you might already know why I disagree with the above. But, even with my expertise, recommending anything but the norm when it comes to prenatal nutrition is a slippery slope.

I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by fellow real food dietitian (and yoga teacher), Frances Arnold, to explain my stance prenatal nutrition. Both her and I have a long history of working clinically with pregnant women and we share some frustrations about the conventional nutrition advice that expecting moms often receive.

Frances and I dig into the details, the research, and the controversy on real food for pregnancy in this podcast. We cover the most important steps a woman can take before becoming pregnant and during pregnancy to ensure she has the healthiest baby ever.

Listen to the interview here!

Some of the prenatal nutrition pearls of wisdom we discuss:

  1. Why all pregnant women should have their vitamin D levels tested (what blood test to ask for and how to correct deficiency if you have it)
  2. The top three things women trying to conceive should pay attention to before becoming pregnant
  3. What nutrients are critical, both before and during pregnancy
  4. Why decreasing inflammation is so important while pregnant (and how to do it)
  5. What foods can promote pre-eclampsia, premature delivery and other complications (you’ll be shocked by this one, because you probably purposefully eat these everyday)
  6. Why I support an omnivorous diet for pregnant women
  7. How the standard carbohydrate recommendations for pregnancy were determined and why I disagree with them (there’s a whole chapter on this in Real Food for Gestational Diabetes where I explore the safety of low carbohydrate diets and ketosis in pregnancy)
  8. The simple way to tell if you’re eating too many carbohydrates (aside from checking your blood sugar levels)
  9. Why liver is an incredible superfood that you should most definitely eat during pregnancy
  10. Why sourcing grass-fed beef is so important. I already explored 7 reasons grass-fed beef is worth the money in more detail here, but I highlight it’s role in pregnancy nutrition in the interview.
  11. How too much lean protein in pregnancy can be toxic (it still shocks me that no one talks about this, but I guess I’ll be the first to poke evidence-based holes in this faulty logic)
  12. Why pregnant women cannot get the right form of omega-3s called DHA from plant foods (like chia seeds, flaxseeds, or walnuts)
  13. The only non-animal source of DHA
  14. If you’re having regular food cravings, why you are probably eating too much of one nutrient, and not enough of something else (I also explore food cravings/food addiction in this post)
  15. How what a mom eats during pregnancy can permanently change the health of her baby

Listen to the interview here!

Of course, this reveals a small portion of the prenatal nutrition enigma. I explore these topics and more (in excruciating detail) with all the scientific evidence to back my stance in my book, Real Food for Gestational Diabetes.

If you liked this interview on real food for pregnancy, sign up to receive a copy of my FREE prenatal snacks ebook below.

Now I’d like to hear from you. Tell me in the comments below:

What was the most shocking piece of unconventional prenatal nutrition advice you learned in this interview?

Until next week,

PS – I misspoke at one point in this interview – Pregnant women need more than 2 eggs per day to meet their choline needs (more like 3-4, although that depends on the size of the egg). It’ll also depend on the remaining choline content of a woman’s diet.

For more on the importance of eggs during pregnancy, see this post.


This interview was among some of the first I did on prenatal nutrition. Since the publishing of my first book on gestational diabetes in 2015, I’ve had numerous requests to write a book on general prenatal nutrition.

Midwives and doctors who had seen the positive impact on gestational diabetes wanted to have a resource for their non-diabetic clients. They also wanted my evidence-based summary on other topics related to pregnancy, like supplements, exposure to toxins, the validity of typical “foods to avoid” lists and more.

After extensive review of the literature, I’m back with book #2, aptly titled Real Food for Pregnancy.

Real Food for Pregnancy lays out the evidence—930 citations and counting—on the benefits of real food, why certain foods are essential (and others are detrimental), and countless lifestyle tweaks you can make to have a smooth, healthy pregnancy.

Learn more about the book and read the first chapter FOR FREE over at


Get a Sneak Peek of the Book!

Download your FREE chapter from

Real Food for Pregnancy.

You'll also receive Lily Nichols' weekly newsletter.
Unsubscribe at any time. Privacy Policy

The Truth About Postpartum Hair Loss
Pregnancy Weight Gain: How much can I expect to gain and does it matter?
vitamin D and pregnancy
First trimester tips for nausea, food aversions, fatigue and more

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.


Leave a comment
  1. Another great interview Lily! I’ve learned so much about prenatal nutrition from you, I know I’m doing the right thing when it comes to preparing my body. Not too sure I can do the whole liver thing….. but I’m on board with everything else! 🙂 Keep up the great work!

    • Glad you liked it, Marisa! Yeah, liver isn’t exactly something most of us crave, especially if you didn’t grow up eating it.

      It can be surprisingly good as liver pate. Or, it’s easily hidden in meatloaf, meatballs, or shepherd’s pie. I’ll be including a few liver recipes in the book. 🙂 Even fitting in tiny amounts here and there is a great boost to nutrient stores.

  2. So appreciate this podcast! I’m about 25 weeks pregnant and a relatively new RDN myself so I am really interested in and share your passion! I love your real food approach and the topics you addressed that are often times not discussed in those prenatal appointments (or even school for that matter). I had a couple questions after my first listen (I am sure I will be returning to listen again!):
    In regards to collagen/gelatin, do you recommend a gelatin supplement or should a person just aim to obtain that from the bones/skin/connective tissues of properly raised meats? I have seen the Great Lakes brand but just didn’t know much about it.

    My other question is in regards to morning sickness (I am SO thankful that I have not experienced it but often hear of those who do)– You mentioned B6 being helpful in preventing. In your experience have you noticed any other vitamins/minerals that help alleviate?

    Thank you again! Loved the information!

    • Hi Hope! Happy to see more “real food dietitians” out there!

      I’m a fan of Great Lakes grass-fed beef gelatin and collagen. Those are great additions, especially if you do not like, or eat much, slow cooked meat or bone broth.

      Morning sickness is a bit tricky. I have an upcoming interview to share on the topic (actually hyperemesis-focused more than morning sickness, but the recs are similar). In brief, vitamin B6, magnesium, and ginger can alleviate nausea.

      • Thanks so much for the info! I look forward to that upcoming interview & your book on GDM!

  3. Hi Lily,
    Hope you are well. I read your book real food for pregnancy and absolutely loved it. so informative and no fluff, just good down to earth scientific evidence that was made accesible.. So i was wondering any chance you will be wirting or have written a real food for babies? or could you recommend any books?

    Thank you!

  4. Hi Lily,

    I am 10 weeks pregnant and really want to supplement my diet with collagen powder, however, my OB recommended to not use it during pregnancy because it has not been studied and deemed safe. I know your book recommends it as part of a healthy pregnancy diet. Is there any research that it is indeed safe to use during pregnancy? Thanks so much!

    • There’s a lot of information on this topic in chapters 3 and 6 of Real Food for Pregnancy. Odds are your provider is not aware of the research in this area.

  5. Do you recommend against eating pate during pregnancy? What about foie gras?

    • See chapter 3 of Real Food for Pregnancy for a detailed discussion on eating liver in pregnancy & chapter 4 for food safety considerations.

  6. Hi Lily!
    I have almost finished your book Real Food For Pregnancy and I could just cry with appreciation to learn all this evidence-based information that positively impacts my and my baby’s health! No OB has ever discussed any of this with me!

    Specifically, regarding liver, I’m going to try incorporating it into my diet, and plan to try out your recipe for liver pate. Would the dairy (and thus calcium) in the recipe hinder absorption of the iron from the liver? My iron is low so I need to be focusing on that right now.

    Thanks again!

    • Glad it’s been helpful! The type of dairy in the recipe is low calcium (cream, butter), so there would be no concern with it interfering with iron absorption.

  7. Hi, love your book! Wondering what brands of prenatal you recommend? Having trouble finding one that checks all the boxes.

    • Great to hear! Go to Chapter 6 to find the link to my preferred prenatal vitamins.

  8. Hi Lily! Are desiccated organ supplements okay to take in place of a prenatal for the folate? or opposed to eating it sometimes its hard to stomach

Comment Policy