Real Food For Mother And Baby by Nina Planck

Contrary to most books serving up nutritional advice for expectant mothers, Nina Planck’s newest book, Real Food For Mother And Baby, offers incredibly practical counsel. She writes as a real mom would, as someone sharing her own personal story about fertility, pregnancy, and her baby’s first foods. She writes about her struggles, about second-guessing herself, about what brought her to tears of frustration. In short, she was accessible both as a person and as a self-described “nutrition geek.”

Both engaging and edifying, her story abandoned the world of idealistic notions and landed squarely in the playing field of real life. We get glimpses of the nitty gritty details that come from the natural anxiety every mother faces as she makes decisions about what to eat and when. We share in her decision-making process as she researches various foods & diets to determine not only what’s safe, but what’s best. And then we experience her trials as she moves through each stage of new motherhood — from pre-conception to baby’s first foods. We get to learn from her mistakes, and we get to bask in the soundness of her hard-won wisdom.

The opening chapter of the book is titled “What is Real Food?” And — not surprisingly — she and I agree. As she shared with us when I recently interviewed her, “Real Food is old and traditional.” (For a lengthier introduction to my view on food, go read The Basics and its accompanying articles.) And in this one chapter, she neatly summarizes most of the content from her earlier book, Real Food: What to Eat and Why.

In her second chapter, she delves into the world of fertility, sharing her research into traditional fertility diets and how their wisdom could be carried over into modern terms. If you’re hoping to get pregnant, the book is worth buying for this chapter alone. It’s a veritable fountain of common sense information that has sadly been lost in our age of turning to drugs to solve every problem.

The next chapter covers what to eat when you’re pregnant. Here again, her words are both wise and comforting. She doesn’t hide the normal ebb and flow of energy, emotions, and nausea that often overwhelms first time mothers as they struggle through each day wondering what’s normal and what’s not. And she gives manageable nutritional advice rather than prescribing an optimal diet that’s so far out of the average mother’s reach as to be absurd and discouraging. To top it all off, she tells you how you can avoid the swelling, bloating, and varicose veins most expectant mothers think of as “normal,” just by eating a better diet (hint: eat more protein, significantly more protein).

The fourth chapter is about nursing your baby, and begins with the words “Very Soggy Indeed.” If you’ve ever nursed a child, you will smile at how refreshingly honest Nina is throughout this section of the book.

And finally, she writes about transitioning your baby to solid foods. Here, as she is throughout the book, she’s both practical and encouraging while bucking the standard nutritional advice in favor of more traditional and nutritionally-sound practices.

Through it all, Nina is honest, witty, and downright charming as she lays out her research and backs up her sometimes controversial claims with clear, sound reasoning.

Real Food For Mother And Baby will leave you empowered, encouraged, and optimistic.

I can’t say the same thing for too many of the other books that try to tackle this subject. They’re altogether dire and gruesome in comparison, leaving expectant moms anxious about every conceivable thing that could go wrong.

So, if you want to read something hopeful, something wise, something realistic, and something well-researched, this is the book for you!

If you have any questions for me about Nina’s new book, please ask in the comments below! I’m happy to answer any and all questions.

Also, let me know if you want this sort of book review to continue. I’ve got a shelf stacked full of books waiting for me to review them. I even thought we could start a discussion group reading through some of the more engaging and informative ones together. So, what do you think?

(photo by chotda)


  1. says

    Henriette — Glad to hear you liked it. I’m not planning on posting book reviews every week, but I think I could post one as often as I finish reading a book. And I think most people would benefit from a well-written and impartial review so they know if the book is worth buying (or borrowing, let’s not forget libraries!).

    Nina’s books are definitely worth owning or buying as gifts!


  2. says

    Great info here!
    I’m not planning on getting pregnant, but after reading this review I’ll be happy to recommend this book to friends who are!


  3. says

    lo — Good to hear. I think this should be required reading for new moms, as it’s so practical. Toss What to Expect When You’re Expecting over the nearest bridge (that’s a fear mongering book if I’ve ever seen one!). Get a handful of well-chosen books like this one instead.

  4. Tamara says

    Thanks for the review! I really want to get this book as I can hardly WAIT to start having babies (no kids for hubby and i just yet).

  5. says

    I like your book reviews! Keep ’em coming! I think this book will make a perfect gift for a friend who just had their first baby. What’s next on your reading list? Maybe we can start a blogger book club. I’m reading Food Energetics by Steve Gagne.

    Michelle @ Find Your Balance

  6. says

    Michelle — I’ll have to look in to Food Energetics. I’m working my way through several books right now, including Devil in the Milk (fascinating read!).

    So you’re the first person to give a thumbs up to the idea of a reading club. Are there any other takers?

  7. says

    Thank you for posting about this book. I will be looking into finding it. The only books I have on eating for pre-conception and pregnancy follow the mainstream view of nutrition. I’m so glad to learn there is another resource out there. Thanks again for this info.

    Kari @ Eating Simply

  8. says

    GREAT review! I loved this book especially – though both her books are phenomenal reads.

    I second the book club idea! I think that’s great. Hubby & I are currently sinking our teeth into Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes, after having just finished Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food. :)

    Thank you so much for all your hard work to get the word out on traditional diets and real food! Keep on keepin’ on! :)
    .-= Lindsey´s last blog ..Local, local everywhere, but not a drop to drink… =-.

  9. Real Food RD says

    I just ordered this book (clicked through your website, hope that helps you) and I’m really looking forward to it.

  10. Reina says

    Just ordered this book on amazon after reading your review. I am expecting and have been really worried about my diet. I had a horrible diet before and never really cared because I have always been naturally thin. Now, for the first time I care about what I put into my body. I will miss skittles and pizza for lunch though :)

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