Expert in Real Food for Prenatal Nutrition an Interview with Lily Nichols, RDN

Aug 17, 2020 , ,
Fertility Dietitians

Welcome back, listeners! Today we are having a chat with Lily Nichols, a kick-butt registered dietitian nutritionist who wrote Real Food For Gestational Diabetes and Real Food For Pregnancy. Here we learn about Lily’s work and research, her history as a dietitian, and get a nice sample of the wisdom and expertise she has to bring to women who are trying to get pregnant. 

This episode starts off with Lily sharing with us her experience with the prenatal dietary guidelines. To sum it up: she’s not impressed with mainstream guidelines. Now she writes about how to actually feed yourself well while trying to conceive or pregnant, in spite of the messed up guidelines. If you don’t know what these guidelines are, Sophia clues you in. Basically RDA and other guidelines, like the ones you find on the back of a food container, are based on what is the minimum amount someone must consume to prevent a major deficiency. The research is done on adult men, and there is no consideration taken for women or people of other races or ages. Boo!

Lily promotes using REAL food to meet your nutrition requirements. She defines real food as unprocessed food made with simple ingredients, as close to nature as possible. Specifically, not processed in a way that removes nutrients. This means not stripping grains of their fiber to make them “refined. Not skimming the fat off of dairy, and not removing the skin or fat from poultry. You get more nutrition when you eat all the parts.

A lot of food in the American diet is not really “food”. Artificial sweeteners, thickeners, stabilizers, preservatives, etc. are made by food scientists to be “safe” to eat, though it’s not necessarily healthy. When we define REAL food, we are talking about what builds your body up with good nutrients, versus how much of a chemical or additive you can consume before it starts doing major harm. We also want to emphasize whole foods vs. isolating specific nutrients in a lab, and then trying to separate them from the rest of the food.

To clarify, we are NOT anti food science here on the FFF podcast! We know scientists have been involved in our food supply for centuries, and that a lot of the work they have done has been amazing! We are about food FREEDOM and fertility, meaning not limiting every food or only eating certain things. We just promote a natural diet of real food. There are very few foods that are 100% of the time a bad idea to eat, and according to Lily that list is limited to: refined carbohydrates and sugars and trans fats. That’s pretty much it!

So, what is it about all this “real food” stuff makes it helpful for women who are TTC? Lily says that all the ways that the primary factor is that increasing the provision of micronutrients in the diet. These nutrients play a strong role in hormone balance, detoxification, egg quality, regulating cycles, and more! Food is powerful, and getting yourself in a healthier place with better nutrient stores can help your body get ready for a pregnancy. 

Sophia shares her experience at Bastyr University with helping the school adopt an omnivorous menu, and Lily shares how Bastyr School of Midwifery now uses her books as a part of their curriculum! How cool is that? In fact, both of Lily’s books are now available as book studies for dietitians worldwide to get their continuing education units! 

Lily shares a bit of the praise and criticism she has received about her books. Pro tip: anyone giving anything a 1-star review on Amazon is generally someone who did not even read/use the product they’re reviewing. Good to know!

It’s no mystery that on this show we are fans of informed consent. Traditional nutrition guidelines are built around the average consumer being too stupid/distracted/disconnected to make good choices. Information is deliberately withheld to keep from confusing people or making things “overly complex”.  I am sure this applies to some people, but we believe our audience (that means YOU!) is interested in learning, growing, and making their own choices. Lily details in her books what research shows is BEST when preparing for a baby, but it’s not hard and fast rules. When you’re empowered with knowledge, you can make whatever choices work best for you, your lifestyle, and your personal beliefs and preferences. 

Lily reveals some tidbits she wishes she could have added into her books. One major one is a study on vitamin D. Women who have serum vitamin D levels over 40 have a significantly reduced rate or preterm birth! Boom! On this show, we are big fans of vitamin D, as both Caitlin and Sophia recommend their patients have vitamin D levels in the 50’s and 60’s. If you have pale skin, you can get vitamin D from the sun more easily! If your skin is dark, you’re going to have a harder time making it on your own without a supplement. Finally some good news for you folks who burn easily.

A major thank you to Lily Nichols, and thank you for listening!

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