Becky Kleive is an integrative nutrition health coach who specializes in helping people at each stage of pregnancy and postpartum. She explains why nutrition is to important at all stages, from conception to postpartum, and she shares her own experience and how nutrition became a huge support for her.
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[00:01:26] Welcome back to the well-connected twin cities podcast. I’m your host to Lily’s eyebrows. Broski. And in this episode, we are talking all about prenatal and postpartum nutrition. And health coaching. Our guest is Becky Clive and integrative nutrition, health coach. And she talks about how her own experience during pregnancy and postpartum and how nutrition played a role to how she was feeling during that time.
[00:01:50] Led her into becoming a health coach and supporting people specifically. Through nutrition.
[00:01:57] This is a great episode for anyone who is looking to get pregnant is pregnant or is in that postpartum period. You’ll learn about why nutrition is so important. And Becky shares some really great tips that are very actionable and.
[00:02:13] Still give you some room for real life. So let’s get started.
[00:02:19] I’m here with Becky Clive, an integrative nutrition health coach. Welcome to the show. Yeah. Thank you so much, Lily. It’s great to be here. Yeah. I’m excited to have this conversation. I love what you do and the services that you provide. I think it’s so needed. Will you start by telling us a little bit about what an integrative health and nutrition coach does and how your role fits in to someone’s care plan? Yeah, sure. Like you said, I’m an integrative nutrition, health coach, and I help women with their nutrition before, during and after pregnancy so that they can have the healthy.
[00:02:57] Body pregnancy and baby possible. So there’s a number of different avenues that integrative nutrition, health coaches can take. There’s approximately kind of 12 different areas. I chose nutrition because that’s the area that I’m most passionate about and most well-versed in. But basically what I do is I.
[00:03:21] Help women with their nutrition all the way from preconception up through about two years postpartum. And the way that I do that is through health coaching. People work with me through my private one-to-one health coaching program, which is called the nourished womb 90 days to optimal nutrition for fertility, pregnancy, and postpartum. And what I do is I help women optimize their health in order to increase their fertility. Decreased common pregnancy related symptoms.
[00:03:53] The ones that most of us get during pregnancy, so nausea, vomiting, food, aversions, heartburn, constipation, et cetera. And then I also help women achieve a healthy weight before, during and after pregnancy as well. And so what that looks like is I meet with someone every other week for 12 weeks. So it’s one intake session followed by six follow-up sessions, as well as unlimited in between session messaging support.
[00:04:23] And so it’s perfect. If somebody is trying to conceive their pregnant or their postpartum, and they want help with their nutrition. What brought you down this path? How did you get into this line of work? So I’ve always been interested in and passionate about nutrition growing up. My mom was a registered nurse in a cardiac rehabilitation department and our local hospital.
[00:04:49] And so she primarily worked with people who had experienced heart attacks. And so they will go to her after they had experienced this heart attack. And part of what you would work with them on is exercise and diet and nutrition plans. And so as part of her continuing education, she used to subscribe to these nutrition focused medical journals and newsletters that would arrive in the mail.
[00:05:20] And any time they would come in the mail, I would run out to the mailbox and I would take them out and I’d bring them inside and I would read them. And only after I had read them, what I then let her read them. And eventually Lily, what I think happened is even after she retired, she continued subscribing to these journals and newsletters because I was so interested in reading them.
[00:05:44] And after a while I noticed a trend. In what these researchers were sharing in regards to nutrition. And it seemed to me that they were promoting a more whole foods diet, foods that were very simple? So simple single ingredients foods.
[00:06:05] So we’re talking things like eggs, salmon, dairy seafood, et cetera. And after so many years of reading these nutrition, journals and newsletters I might take away was that the root of a healthy diet was something that was rooted in whole, simple ingredient foods. And what was missing from those journals was the, how, so the journals did a really good job of saying the what and the why, but I always wondered how somebody could start integrating some of these foods into their diet if they hadn’t been exposed to them before.
[00:06:54] And so I put a pin in that. And I went on to graduate from undergrad and then later graduate school and then graduate school. I ended up graduating with my master’s in education and all of my coursework was in the department of educational psychology. And the way that, that ties into health coaching is that In the area of educational psychology.
[00:07:21] I learned about how the science of how people learn and create new habits and creating new habits is the root of how we all become healthy. Because health, as you know is more about, than what you eat today, it’s about creating a lifestyle that fully supports you in feeling your best, hopefully forever.
[00:07:43] And so I took that graduate school coursework and during the pandemic, when I was. At home doing distance learning teaching. I started training at the Institute of integrative nutrition and I graduated with my integrative nutrition, health coaching certification. And it was also during that time that I had two children.
[00:08:13] Avery is at the time of this recording is three and a half and Wilder is now two months. And so I had my own journey with them as well. So when I got pregnant with my daughter I went to my midwife just full of questions on how to kick my health up in a. And so I figured if I was eating for two, I better do it.
[00:08:39] Right. Because I was always interested in nutrition and I also had this background in educational psychology and how people learn and how we create new habits. I wanted to know how I could create better eating habits now that I’m pregnant. And so I was excited to see what else I could do to be even healthier.
[00:09:04] And I walked away from that first appointment with a folder full of pamphlets, and one of the pamphlets was detailing foods. And I thought, yes, this is it. This is going to tell me. How I can be healthier, how we can eat healthier for pregnancy and postpartum. And all it was a handout detailing, all the foods that I should avoid and all the foods that I shouldn’t eat.
[00:09:34] And I’ve since learned that most of us walk away from appointments with our medical professionals. With oftentimes some, but typically very little or insufficient information on what we can do to have the healthiest pregnancy and baby possible. And so I started my own research and through that research, I found Lily Nichols, who wrote the best-selling book real food for pregnancy.
[00:10:10] And I read that book and then that led me down another line of, for the research. And so I ended up having a healthy pregnancy and a postpartum experience, but what I was really missing throughout that Lily is someone to support me throughout that journey. So as I experienced different pregnancy related symptoms as I experienced the initial postpartum, when I had like insatiable hunger and exhaustion, and I was reaching for peanut M and M’s all the time and I was too exhausted to cook I ate without any intention.
[00:10:53] It would have been so much easier if I’d gone in with a plan. I knew what to eat. I had prepped healthy meals in the freezer, and I had the support of someone who could tell me what to do when I was too tired to think. And so I became that someone. And so that’s how I ended up. Becoming an integrative nutrition, health coach specifically for the before, during and after pregnancy population.
[00:11:17] I think it’s so important to have that support because. That I’ve been there too, not specific to nutrition and pregnancy, but just doing the research on your own and trying to figure out on your own, what to do, what is like the best plan for you? It’s a lonely road and it can feel really overwhelming.
[00:11:36] And so I think having that one-on-one support is so important. And so I think Your services are really needed, especially in our culture now modern culture in the United States in general, we don’t have, the support of community during that afterbirth period. It’s a very lonely time for a lot of people.
[00:12:00] But when you look back to, our roots back to wherever, culture, you came from whatever original Homeland you came from. There were, the 40 day period or a certain number of days after giving birth, where. The birthing person was really well taken care of by their family, by their community.
[00:12:22] And, they wouldn’t be stuck reaching for the peanut M and M’s because of course they didn’t exist, but also someone was there feeding them. Because we don’t have that, we have to think about preparing for these times differently. And I think your services are a really integral part of that.
[00:12:39] So glad you’re doing what you’re doing. Let’s talk a little bit more specifically about nutrition. So I think, cause I also recognize, going through those prenatal appointments, you get a very generic. Like guidance on nutrition, the list of foods to avoid, they say take a prenatal vitamin.
[00:12:59] I think the first doctor I worked with didn’t even care what prenatal vitamin I took. It was just like, take one, so there’s not a lot of guidance around what’s. What’s great. So why is it so important and what have you started to learn as you’ve dug a little bit deeper into nutrition for this prenatal and postpartum time?
[00:13:20] Yeah, so you’re absolutely right. So there’s research to support the importance of nutrition for fertility, pregnancy and postpartum. So I’ll just share one piece of research and each of those areas, and of course, this is not an exhaustive list but just enough to get started. So in this area, fertility, Research published and advances and experimental medicine and biology in 2019 really shared research on poor diet and oocyte cell quality.
[00:13:55] So oocytes are cells in the ovaries. And so what this research suggested is that poor diet can impact that cell quality. So side, cell quality and function. And can contribute to accelerated oocyte aging and therefore impact fertility. So when we’re talking about emphasizing optimal nutrition what we’re really talking about is what we can do to improve that ovarian micro environment where eggs are prepared to be released and therefore prepare the environment for pregnancy.
[00:14:33] And then once we’re pregnant the public health nutrition all the way back in 2001, proposed that inadequate nutrition during pregnancy can increase the risk of diseases like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and risk of obesity. And they termed this fetal program. And so what that saying is that when we have inadequate nutrition we are risking lifelong metabolic changes to the baby that can increase the risk of those diseases.
[00:15:12] And so when we’re talking about, the importance of nutrition, Before pregnancy, we’re talking about creating this ideal ovarian and uterine microenvironment during pregnancy, we’re talking about fetal programming. So how can we have adequate and even more than adequate optimal nutrition to decrease the risk of those diseases.
[00:15:40] And then in the area of postpartum, there’s newer research coming on. Around the factors that can cause perinatal mood disorders, such as postpartum depression, and according to postpartum support, Minnesota. They estimate that 10 to 20% of parents and parents to be, will experience a mood disorder or anxiety disorder.
[00:16:04] And according to the American journal of obstetrics and gynecology, they estimate that number could be as high as 30%. And research is now suggesting that depletion of nutrient reserves throughout pregnancy combined with. The lack of recovery postpartum, which you just touched on Lily there with a lack of support may increase a woman’s risk for maternal depression and something that I left out of, my story before about how, what brought me down this path and how I got into this work was my own fertility, pregnancy and postpartum journey.
[00:16:43] And what I’ll say is that, after I had my first baby Avery and I went to the midwife full of questions. I’ve walked away with a handout on, the foods to avoid. And after I gave birth to her, the birth went well. But, like I said, I wasn’t prepared for how insatiably hungry and exhausted.
[00:17:07] I felt. And five weeks postpartum, I realized that I was chronically sleep deprived. And I was chronically sleep deprived because I had postpartum anxiety which prevented me from sleeping. And eventually that developed into postpartum psychosis. And I share that because when you were talking about the lack of support that moms typically experience or parents typically experience at least in this country that’s a perfect example of that.
[00:17:41] And so one way that I helped support myself after my second baby and preparation for that postpartum experience. Was through nutrition. There were other ways that I supported myself as well. But this time I focused on the pieces that were within my control. So for me, that was nourishing my body for fertility.
[00:18:05] So that was in the six months prior to trying to conceive, starting to take a prenatal vitamin and supplements that I knew I needed to have. Bridge the gap between my diet and optimal nutrients. And I think to a large extent, because of even that one factor, I had a completely different experience postpartum with my second baby than I did with my first no postpartum anxiety, no postpartum psychosis.
[00:18:36] I’m tired because let’s be honest. I do have a two month old. But I’m not exhausted. And I believe that it’s because I focus on my nutrition before I got pregnant throughout my pregnancy so that when I gave birth, my nutrient stores were up from my diet, my prenatal, vitamins, and supplements, and all of those pieces helped me stack the deck in my favor to get pregnant, have a healthy pregnancy.
[00:19:06] And ultimately have a healthy baby and mama whose mental and emotional health has remained intact. And at the end of the day, I healthy. Mama’s a healthy baby and family. Yup. Thank you for sharing that’s so impactful. As you were going through all of that, what was something that really stood out to you that maybe was surprising when you started learning more about nutrition during this period in particular?
[00:19:36] Were there any like particular nutrients or. Macros that you were like, whoa, I had no idea I needed more of this or, or what a difference it would make. What stood out to you as you were going through that? Yeah. So for me it was the role and importance of optimal amounts and types of protein for fertility, pregnancy, and postpartum.
[00:20:02] So we need protein in order to build new cells with. As we can imagine, we’re building many new cells when we’re pregnant to feel full, to help prevent low energy which is a frequent symptom, not just during pregnancy especially in the first and third trimesters, but also in the postpartum period as well.
[00:20:23] But we also need protein to help prevent frequent hunger pains, food cravings. Headaches, nausea and food aversions. So when we’re talking about, common pregnancy related symptoms, like low energy, hunger pains, food, cravings, headaches, nausea in food aversions. We’re talking about protein as a macronutrient that can help us feel better.
[00:20:51] Despite those very normal pregnancy-related symptoms. But your protein needs vary based on a number of factors. So one factor that helps determine the amounts and types of protein that you should aim to eat is where you are in your preconception through postpartum journey. So women who are trying to conceive or are in the first half of their pregnancy.
[00:21:16] Or in the second half of their pregnancy or recently postpartum and breastfeeding all require different amounts and types of protein. What I recommend is that when you start your nutrition journey that you start with looking at protein and specifically You haven’t observed how much protein you’re eating throughout the day.
[00:21:42] Start with one meal and have that meal beat breakfast. So start with at least 20 grams of protein for breakfast and see how you feel for the rest of the day. And typically my clients, just with that addition. About minimum 20, but let’s say about 20 to 35 grams of protein for breakfast alone.
[00:22:09] They noticed that they feel fuller for longer. They have more energy throughout the day. Their hunger comes on gradually. It’s not like all of a sudden, they’re ravenous and they need to eat right now. They’re late afternoon cravings for typically higher carbohydrate, higher sugar foods decrease headaches go away, nausea and food aversions.
[00:22:34] Those are diminished as well, just through getting optimal amounts and types of protein, even for breakfast. So that’s why we’re I encourage everyone to start. Yeah, that is huge. I was smiling as you were saying that, because I thought back to. My first pregnancy, I was working a corporate job downtown and the kitchen at our office building had these amazing big cookie.
[00:23:00] They were probably like just loaded with sugar and just straight up carbs and fat. I’m not the healthiest, but delicious little treat. I seriously think I had one every single afternoon at three o’clock was just like clockwork. I just needed it. But yeah, I think that’s a great advice. Looking at protein for breakfast.
[00:23:21] Do you have any more guidance on. Types of protein. You mentioned different types of proteins. I know people out there who are vegan or vegetarian, does that matter? Like how do you want to be looking at your protein and the type of protein you take? Yeah, so good question. So the protein that I recommend is some of the most nutrient dense forms of proteins that are recommended for fertility, pregnancy and postpartum.
[00:23:51] Following the nutrition research that’s recently published and what I recommend is, are some examples, eggs, salmon full fat dairy seafood, bone broth meats. And then of course, depending on where you are in your journey, some of those foods may be accessible to you. At one point in your journey, say when you’re trying to conceive or you’re interested in increasing your fertility and at other times in your journey, they may not be accessible.
[00:24:26] For example. I think in both of my pregnancies, I had a combination of nausea, vomiting, migraines, and fatigue in the first trimester for both. And so I was not able to eat something like salmon. I struggled to eat seafood. Sometimes I couldn’t eat some meats and that’s all. Okay. And part of what I do is help women wherever they are in that journey.
[00:24:57] And find alternatives if whatever, the most nutrient dense foods are not accessible to them at that time because of their symptoms or because of their lifestyle or because of their preferences. And so part of what I do in one-on-one coaching is figure out what those protein sources can look like for you.
[00:25:19] And because I’m all about still having the foods that you love, if you really wanted that afternoon, cookie Lilly, I love cookie. If I meet you what I would recommend is to have the cookie. But instead of having the cookie alone pair it with protein or fat foods so that you’re not having naked carbs.
[00:25:51] So naked carbs are any carbohydrates that you have that aren’t paired with protein and or fat. And so the reason we want to. Try to avoid naked carbs is because they spike your blood sugar. And then that starts the cycle of that blood sugar rollercoaster, which we’re all familiar with, where you feel this, you eat the cookie, you feel this quick surge of energy followed by a crash and burn.
[00:26:18] And then you feel tired, lethargic, and then you crave more cards. And so not eating naked cards would be the way that I would recommend that you eat the cookie. So in other words, eat the cookie, but pair it with maybe something like a full fat dairy. So that could be like a cup of whole milk or some Greek yogurt or an egg.
[00:26:45] Or something with any sort of fat, like some coconut or yeah. Could be peanut butter. Yep. Any of those things. So still eat the cookie. Don’t feel bad about eating the cookie. Just increase your protein intake for breakfast, and then pair that cookie with some protein or fat and you’ll be golden.
[00:27:05] Nice. Awesome. So protein is a big one. Are there any other tips for nutrition that you want to share with new parents or parents to be? Yeah, so protein is the first one that I the first macronutrient that I typically work on with clients, because it tends to be the one where maybe we all are aware of.
[00:27:33] Of the importance of protein or we know generally what protein is. But we typically don’t get enough protein. So that’s always where I start. And then we do talk about trying to avoid naked carbs. And then beyond that, some other areas that I work with people on are these.
[00:27:55] Other, either macro nutrients that we need, like fat and carbohydrates or places where we get vitamins and minerals. So we get vitamins and minerals from the vegetables that we eat. Salt is something I talk about different fluids et cetera. Nice. I want to share too, when I. I was like postpartum with my first pregnancy.
[00:28:20] I had no idea, but I was very low in vitamin D. And you were mentioning like the nutrient depletion that happens during pregnancy. And I started running again a few months after I gave birth. I think it was like five or six months. It wasn’t like right away or anything. But I got a stress fracture in my sacrum.
[00:28:39] And the thought was that it was because a lot of my mineral levels and vitamin D were super low. And so just wanted to call that out as like an important thing to me. Speak up about and your appointments and ask to get your levels checked if they haven’t been checked recently? Because it wasn’t something that my care provider did proactively.
[00:29:01] It was something we figured out after I was already injured. And it was a pretty bad injury to recover from. Yeah, absolutely. I remember during my first prenatal appointment with my first baby my vitamin D levels were checking. And they were low. And so I needed to supplement with vitamin D because they were low.
[00:29:26] And that made sense because at that time, I didn’t know what I know now about preparing the ways in which I could have prepared my body for pregnancy. And then. I was with a different medical provider for my second pregnancy and baby, and my vitamin D levels were checked periodically throughout my pregnancy.
[00:29:50] Which is ideal because depending on where you are in your pregnancy, And what you’re able to eat at different stages in your pregnancy, your vitamin D levels can fluctuate. So yeah, it’s definitely important to get that checked. Not just once, but throughout your pregnancy as well. Yeah, it’s something I checked now on a regular basis, like twice a year or three times to see to cause it’s such an important nutrient.
[00:30:18] Okay, let’s talk a little bit more about health coaching. So I think it’s definitely a newer field. Some people are more aware of what a health coach does than others. But there’s a wide variety of training programs out there. There are people saying they’re health coaches, even though they haven’t necessarily been trained.
[00:30:37] So will you tell us about what you do as a health coach and how that relationship works with your clients? Yeah. So you’re right. So coaching now is like the wild west. Anyone can call themselves a coach. Anyone can call themselves a health coach. It’s an unregulated industry. And so that’s why I think it’s really important that if you’re interested in working with a health coach no matter what area of expertise they specialize in, it’s important to make sure that they actually went through a certification program in order to call themselves a health coach.
[00:31:18] I think what I’ll say about health coaching, I’m just going to share what my last client shared with me, because I think she summed it up perfectly. And so she said that before working with me, she worried that she couldn’t stop.
[00:31:35] And so she was concerned about her ability to be motivated. And what she discovered is that she said, good nutrition simply involves continually practicing new habits and using learn tools to make decisions regarding food. We always have these tools with us and we don’t need to be perfect to make positive changes in our health and the way our bodies feel.
[00:32:00] And I love that because to me, that’s what. Health coaching is about health coaching is about you being able to practice new habits while having the support and encouragement of a coach beside you to help you while you practice those new habits. And then you start using those tools and those habits that you’ve learned to make decisions regarding.
[00:32:29] And I think it’s important to distinguish that a health coach doesn’t prescribe and we don’t treat. So we really work with you on your current diet, your lifestyle, your symptoms, it’s being driven by you. We’re just there to help support and guide you through this journey. And it’s not about being perfect.
[00:32:53] It’s about taking one small step in the direction of positive change. And after we take that one small step we take another step and we’re just continuing to build these bricks, which are all of our healthy habits. And ultimately the goal, at least for me, is. When I am done working with somebody, I know that they will have the healthiest body, pregnancy and baby possible.
[00:33:31] And it’s because they’ve built this foundation brick by brick step-by-step rooted in new habits. And so in a nutshell, I think that’s what a health coach does and how they work with people. Nice. Thank you all. What is something that you wish more people knew about health coaching? I wish people knew that health coaching was just simply practicing new habits.
[00:34:03] To make decisions that it’s not something that it’s not a bandwagon that you were on and you are off or you’re on a program or you’re off a program. You don’t have to worry about sticking with it or your motivation that you just continue to show up meal by meal. So if that is starting with.
[00:34:27] 20 to 30 grams of protein for your breakfast, and that’s where you are right now. That’s where you start. And that’s where we build from there. So health coaching is never about handing over a pre-made plan and saying, here you go, here’s all the steps to follow. Good luck. It is being with you.
[00:34:49] Side-by-side while you work through building these healthy habits into first, one meal and then two meals and then three meals and now your snacks. And now we’re going from one day to two days and we just gradually build in those practices. Nice. So very different from what we’re used to in like diet culture of, The whole 30 or like the 90 day, whatever.
[00:35:17] Yeah. It’s not like a short program. That’s super restrictive. It’s about building towards something that’s sustainable, right? Yeah. And I think you bring up a good point too, Lily, which is, My philosophy around health coaching and my philosophy around nutrition, coaching, especially being, a mom of a toddler and a baby myself and also teaching full time.
[00:35:44] Is that, I don’t believe in fear-mongering. I don’t believe in restricting, I don’t believe in counting. Feeling guilt or shame around our food choices at all. And so what I do believe is us getting back to basics at the beginning, you talked about eating the way our ancestors did and letting go of the pressure to do things right.
[00:36:08] And you’re not going to make a mistake. There’s always opportunities. The next meal, the next time that you eat, if you didn’t get enough protein for breakfast, then try again at lunch. And just let go of the pressure of feeling like you have to be perfect and we don’t need to start over. We don’t need to restrict and.
[00:36:32] We can feel good about our food choices, no matter what they are, if it’s the cookie in the afternoon or not. Thank you. Cookies are important to me. They are, to me, just so good. Thank you so much for being on the show. If people are listening and they are. Really vibing with what you’re talking about and they are looking for support and want to start down the path of working with you, what is the best way for people to get started?
[00:37:05] Okay. So the best way to get started is to actually book a complimentary nutrition coaching session with me. So this is the way that you can experience what it would be like to have me as your coach. As well as receive some simple, actionable recommendations for what you can do to increase your nutrient intake.
[00:37:25] I want to be clear, this is not a discovery call to talk about working together. It’s only a deep dive into you and your nutrition and the purpose for this is for you to. Get to experience what it would be like to be coached by me. And for me to get more practice coaching, more people. So instead of discovery calls, I offer complimentary nutrition coaching sessions.
[00:37:53] So to book one of those, you can go to my website beckykleive.com. And you can click on book, a complimentary nutrition coaching session there. And that’s the first way to get to know me. Love it. Well, Thank you so much for being on the show, Becky. Thanks. Thanks for inviting me.