I think it’s easy to have the impression that a book entitled Real Food for Gestational Diabetes would only apply to you if you are pregnant and have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes. However, after reading this book I have come to realize that every woman can benefit from this knowledge about how food impacts our blood sugar, and how the same food actually impacts our blood sugar differently during pregnancy.
As a Registered Dietician, Lily has a modern and scientific approach to treating gestational diabetes naturally. Her approach offers women the option of regulating their blood sugar levels by focusing on a real food diet. It also forces anyone who reads this book to examine the foods you eat every day and really consider how your eating habits impact your health.
Lily offers numerous “unconventional” suggestions when it comes to treating diabetes. She advocates for a relatively low-carbohydrate diet balanced with a generous amount of healthy fats, vegetables, and clean (hormone/antibiotic free/grass fed) protein. She focuses on a diet of nutrient dense foods that are also beneficial for a growing baby. Instead of counseling women to count calories and eat specific amounts of carbohydrates and protein, her approach is more holistic in that she places value on learning to understand and respond to your own bodily signs of hunger and satiation.
The dietary guidelines you’ll find in this book are not limiting or restrictive. You won’t be eating rice cakes and low-fat yogurt that’s for sure! You can have a well-balanced diet rich in flavor and variety that also happens to provide excellent nutrition for both you and your growing baby. AND you can do this while regulating your blood sugar naturally without relying on medication. Of course, there are always women who will need medication to stabilize their blood sugar levels, but with Lily’s approach, they may be able to reduce their required dosage by following the dietary and lifestyle changes she recommends.
As Lily puts it:
Focusing first on awareness of which foods contain carbohydrates and how to fit that into a palatable, well-balanced meal plan that normalizes your blood sugar is priority number one. Then ensuring that these foods are nutrient-dense is priority number two.
One of my favorite aspects of Lily’s book is the focus on nutrition during pregnancy. Often the advice women receive when they are planning for pregnancy or become pregnant is simply to stop drinking and smoking, and to take their prenatal vitamins. I have talked about the importance of preconception and pregnancy nutrition before, and the many benefits of getting these nutrients from real food when possible. Lily provides a strait forward and practical guide to achieving optimal nutrition during pregnancy.
Instead of focusing on the number of calories you should be eating and reducing nutrition down to a bunch of numbers, Lily provides the reader with a practical list of nutrient dense foods loaded with the vitamins and minerals that necessary for a healthy pregnancy and to nourish a growing baby. She describes in detail why these particular foods are beneficial for both mom and baby throughout pregnancy, and she outlines the particular nutrient content of all of these foods. First, the focus is on regulating and stabilizing blood sugar, and then the focus shifts to ensuring that your unborn baby gets the best possible nutrition from food. As you can imagine this vital second piece of the picture is often lacking in the standard level of care women receive from their physicians and dieticians when they are diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
Lily questions the standard nutritional guidelines for treating gestational diabetes. She questions the recommended minimum amount of carbohydrates that women are instructed to consume as it is often much higher than it needs to be. The standard dietary approach recommended by most dieticians tends to be less effective in helping women to stabilize their blood sugar levels naturally when compared to a diet that is lower in carbohydrates. In her own words,
When I first started working as a prenatal nutritionist, I dutifully followed the standard nutrition guidelines for gestational diabetes: 175g of carbohydrates minimum for women in their second and third trimester of pregnancy. Only there was one problem: my patients’ blood sugar numbers were not improving. [This] level of carbohydrates wasn’t low enough to bring their blood sugar down to normal. Sometimes their blood sugar got worse.
With Lily’s background in fitness as a certified Pilates instructor, she naturally includes a discussion of the significant impact that regular exercise throughout pregnancy has for both mom and baby. For example, women who exercise during pregnancy are more likely to return to their preconception weight, are less likely to develop type II diabetes later in life, and are more likely to have a shorter labor with fewer complications. Lily challenges the myth that women shouldn’t “exert” themselves during pregnancy and she discusses several simple ways for a woman to determine both how much exercise and what type of exercise is appropriate for her at different stages of pregnancy.
Lily includes meal planning ideas and an entire appendix full of recipes making this book extremely user-friendly and action oriented. This book is an excellent resource especially if you or someone you know has been diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I would recommend this book to women who are pregnant or planning to get pregnant and who are trying to manage sugar cravings or concerned about weight gain during pregnancy. I would also recommend this book for any woman who is struggling to lose that postpartum baby weight. An entire chapter of this book is devoted to postpartum strategies including how to reduce your likelihood of developing full-blown type II diabetes following a diagnosis of gestational diabetes, as well as postpartum weight loss.
Overall, I found Real Food for Gestational Diabetes to be an extremely informative resource. The material is presented in an extremely user-friendly and strait forward way. There is no “fluff” in this book. Lily breaks down what you need to know in a detailed but concise manner. The information in this book is helpful to all women who are either pregnant or are planning to get pregnant in the future. Whether you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes or not this book will help you to have a healthy pregnancy and work towards a more healthful and nutrient-dense way of eating throughout your pregnancy. Even if you are just concerned about putting on a little too much “baby weight”, Lily’s recommendations give you a healthy template for managing food cravings while eating delicious nutrient dense foods that will ultimately provide your body and your baby with much-needed nutrition throughout your pregnancy without adding to your waistline!
Have you read Real Food for Gestational Diabetes? I would love to hear your thoughts on the book. Perhaps you have a different take on it? Whatever the case I’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you thought of the book!
Listen to an Interview (or 3) with Lily on the Fertility Friday Podcast!
- FFP 103 | Real Food for PCOS | PCOS, Insulin Resistance & Diabetes | Managing PCOS Naturally with Diet | Balancing Blood Sugar | Lily Nichols
- FFP 025 | How Much Should Women Exercise During Pregnancy? | The Good, The Bad and the Uncomfortable | Lily Nichols
- FFP 016 | Real Food for Gestational Diabetes | Pre-conception & Pregnancy Nutrition | Lily Nichols
- The Pilates Nutritionist | Lily Nichols
- Real Food for Gestational Diabetes: An Effective Alternative to the Conventional Nutrition Approach | Lily Nichols
- Real Food for Gestational Diabetes | Lily Nichols