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Real Food for Pregnancy

What is Real Food for Pregnancy? Why have I heard so much about this prenatal nutrition book?

You may have heard about the book, but what is it really about? Is it really that much different than the prenatal nutrition information you get from your healthcare provider? And what does it mean to have a real food pregnancy?

This brief summary breaks it down for you.

With over 930 citations, Real Food for Pregnancy is an evidence-based book that presents as the most comprehensive text on prenatal nutrition to date. 

Written by registered dietitian, Lily Nichols, ​​Real Food for Pregnancy explores the gap between conventional prenatal nutrition guidelines and what the science says (FYI: there’s often a lag time of about 17 years for new research to make it into clinical practice).

In short, this book focuses on optimal prenatal nutrition to support both mother and baby. It provides an in-depth discussion of how maternal nutrient intake affects the development of baby and risk for complications, and subsequently identifies which nutrient-dense foods are necessary to “build a healthy baby.” 

Real Food for Pregnancy uses the latest evidence to challenge which foods to avoid (including information on fish and mercury, food safety and deli meat, etc.) and discusses numerous misconceptions about prenatal nutrition, such as optimal macronutrient intake vs. current recommendations (including why sufficient protein is so crucial), and why a low-salt diet can be detrimental. It offers insight as to which nutrients can be lacking on a vegetarian or vegan diet and what nutrients/supplements to consider if a vegetarian diet is still chosen to be followed. 

Readers will also be able to identify what specific lab tests, supplements, and proactive steps they can take to support a healthy pregnancy, such as learning the crucial role of mindfulness and stress management, why moving the body is so important, which prenatal exercises are safe and which are not, and will also be given practical steps to reduce exposure to common toxins.

Real Food for Pregnancy provides nutritional management of nausea, food aversions, heartburn, constipation, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes (and discusses pros/cons of all testing methods), and much more regarding pregnancy-associated medical conditions and symptoms. (Note that Lily’s other book, Real Food for Gestational Diabetes, focuses exclusively on the nutritional management of gestational diabetes.)

Plus, mothers will learn how to navigate the 4th trimester, to include wisdom from traditional cultures, foods to emphasize and using nutrient dense foods to support breastfeeding, physical recovery, and many more tips to thrive postpartum. Postpartum recovery and nutrient repletion is commonly overlooked, but key to mother and baby’s health.

This all-encompassing prenatal nutrition book based on scientific research teaches how to adopt a real-food approach when it comes to eating, ultimately setting up for a healthier pregnancy, a smoother recovery from birth, and an easier transition into motherhood.

Numerous universities and schools have now incorporated Real Food for Pregnancy into their curriculum, either as a textbook or as required reading. This includes Bastyr University’s Midwifery Program (the top naturopathic medicine school in the U.S.), Midwifery College of Utah, and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Get a taste of the book before you buy. Download the first chapter of Real Food for Pregnancy for free.

Where to Buy Real Food for Pregnancy?

Paperback copies of Real Food for Pregnancy are available directly from the author’s bookshop and on Amazon and many bookstores. Lily’s bookshop also carries the ebook version (for a lower price than Amazon).

While the majority of book sales happen on Amazon (you can read over 2,000 reviews on the book on Amazon), we’re sweetening the deal to buy direct!

When you buy a paperback copy of Real Food for Pregnancy directly from Lily’s shop, you can get a FREE gift. Paperback purchases come with her e-Cookbook for FREE. Add both items to your cart and enter code GIFT at checkout. The e-cookbook features 30 nutrient-dense recipes not found in either of her books (with photographs of all recipes).

This exclusive offer is only available for paperback purchases made directly from the shop, but for those who purchase elsewhere, you can still buy the e-cookbook separately.

Prenatal Nutrition Continuing Education Credits for Dietitians

Are you a dietitian who specializes in prenatal nutrition? Or are you looking for continuing education on prenatal nutrition? Look no further.

For dietitians, Real Food for Pregnancy offers 35 Commission for Dietetic Registration (CDR) approved continuing education credits (CEUs) upon successful completion of an 80-question post-test. Simply read the book, purchase and successfully complete the post-test, and you’ll receive your certificate for 35 CEUs.

This CDR pre-approved self study activity expires on May 11, 2024, meaning you must complete the post-test by that date to receive your CEU credit. If you’ve been looking for prenatal nutrition CEU credits for dietitians, this is for you! Claim your CEU credits here.


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Am I too late to benefit from nutrition changes during pregnancy?

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

  9. Hi Lily,
    Thank you for your beautiful work. I am looking for how many milligrams of liver supplement and how often I should incorporate it? I am listening to your audio book, it’s awesome.

  10. Unfortunate I cant find a copy in any independent businesses. They need authors support now more then ever and instead your supporting amazon by making it almost exclusively available there.

    • Many independent bookstores carry it. If you prefer not to purchase from Amazon and cannot find it at a local bookstore, you can purchase direct from my bookshop.

  11. Hi, I am a homebirth midwife and I refer all my clients to your book for great nutritional advice. I have a question regarding B12 supplementation. Is it safe for a pregnant mother to take 1000mcg of methylcobalmine per day to increase her B12 levels? In your book you don’t recommend a dosage and I would love to know what you suggest. Most supplements have a tiny amount of B12 and I think it’s not enough for a growing fetus.

  12. Thanks for all of the amazing research you’ve shared. I am one week from IVF embryo transfer and have already been following your food recommendations as much as possible. In the alcohol and probiotics sections you support drinking kombucha during pregnancy for its probiotic content, stating that 8 oz of kombucha would typically contain only 1 g of alcohol. I have been making kombucha at home for about 10 years and drink about 2 oz each morning to treat acid reflux. It works amazing well for me to the point that no other medication is needed. I would like to continue drinking it when pregnant but wonder if I should stick with store bought kombucha since the alcohol content is regulated. Also, do you think it’s safe to drink 2 oz every day? Thank you!

  13. Hello!
    I just have a question, Is your book Real Food for Pregnancy available in Spanish?
    Thank you!

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