Talking Meal Plans With Nutritionist Louise Belle

Dr Sandra Cabot interviews her resident nutritionist Louise Belle about meal plans. Louise outlines the reasons people may benefit from a meal plan and the factors she takes into account when creating personalised meal plans.

Listen to my podcast and leave a comment below if you have any questions.

DR CABOT: Hello. My name is Dr Sandra Cabot and I’m pleased to be joined today by our resident nutritionist, Louise Belle. Hi, Louise.

LOUISE: Hi, Dr Cabot.

DR CABOT: So, Louise has got a Bachelor of Health Science and she’s a very integrative nutritionist who works out meal plans tailor made for the individual, exactly what they need. And that’s very important because we’re all different. Different people are allergic to specific foods. They have unique digestive problems. They have a unique family history. And Louise takes all that into account, including their taste buds, of course. And she’s a wonderful cook.

LOUISE: Thanks.

DR CABOT: She brings us treats which are healthy. You wouldn’t believe they could be healthy. They taste so good.

LOUISE: Yeah. I love making food.

DR CABOT: So, Louise, you do meal plans for patients. So, what are the main reasons someone would benefit from a meal plan?

LOUISE: There’s multiple reasons. So, I guess the first one is that a lot of people don’t know what to eat or what they should be eating or what’s healthy for them specifically. Or perhaps they’ve just been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, for example, and they’re really not sure what changes they should make to get their blood sugar under control. So, I guess the main thing is people want to improve their health and they’re not sure how to go about it. Or they’re reading lots of conflicting information on the internet and they’re not sure what is suitable for them. And that’s where seeing a nutritionist is really important because we can tailor it to suit the individual, as opposed to a whole broad group.

DR CABOT: Yeah, that’s good. And also, a lot of people think they’re eating healthy but they have nutritional deficiencies. So, they need to eat more of certain foods. They may need to supplement, as well. But, unless you can tailor make a diet that will improve their digestion and their absorption of food, they’re going to stay deficient.

LOUISE: Exactly right. And the thing is people aren’t always aware that they might have those deficiencies. And during the consultation, that’s something that I might pick up through asking questions. And I find out they’ve got issues with their skin or they’ve got low energy or they’re highly stressed or they’ve got diarrhea and they thought that was normal. So, there’s lots of different things that I pick up during the consultation, which could indicate a deficiency or that they are prone to a deficiency. And that’s something that I can target through the meal plan.


LOUISE: Yeah! And the other thing is they might be eating foods that they think are healthy because it has the word ‘diet’ or the word ‘natural’. Or because they read from a celebrity that that’s a healthy diet to follow, but it might just be completely unsuitable for them. And that’s why they’re not feeling good following that type of diet.

DR CABOT: Yeah, that’s right. And you help a lot of people lose weight because there are so many people eating hidden carbohydrates. They don’t realize how much carbohydrates. They don’t know how to read labels.

LOUISE: No, they have no idea. Or they think that they’re following a sugar-free diet because they’re having sugar-free soft drink, for example. But they’re eating lots of cereal and rice and bread and they don’t really see the connection. They don’t realize that those things turn to sugar in the blood and that’s causing the insulin resistance or their inability to lose weight.

DR CABOT: Yeah. And so, it’s important to know how to read labels. And Louise can help with that. And also, food allergies. People have allergies, whether it’s hay fever or hives or dermatitis or irritable bowel, could be a food allergy. Then a tailor-made meal plan can often fix the problem.

LOUISE: Yeah, well, that’s the thing. Sometimes the food that’s healthy for one person is really harmful to another. And that’s where, picking up on food intolerances and tailoring the meal plan to exclude those is important and very beneficial. So, often I’ll get patients to keep a diet symptom diary, where they write down what they’re eating and what symptoms they’re getting. And then I might be able to draw correlations between the symptom and the food that they’ve eaten. Maybe not even that day, but maybe a couple of days beforehand, because sometimes the symptoms are delayed.

DR CABOT: Right. So, what if somebody is a vegan or they want to eat meat? You can work with people who are carnivorous or strict vegans or kind of half vegetarian.

LOUISE: Yeah, definitely. So, I can tailor it specifically to the patient’s dietary choice. So, plant-based diets are one of my special interests. So, I work with that a lot. But yeah, whatever their dietary choices are, I can easily work around that. And to make sure that even if they are vegan, for example, things that we look out for is iron, protein, B12, omega 3. These things can often be lacking in their diets. So that’s something that I’m really focused on when creating the meal plan to make sure we’re replacing those in the diet.

DR CABOT: That’s right. And overcoming nutritional deficiencies can help people to lose weight. It’s interesting, isn’t it? Because a lot of overweight people have very severe nutritional deficiencies that aren’t picked up and make it harder for them to lose weight.

LOUISE: Exactly. And then because they’re feeling so crappy, they’re not motivated to lose the weight. Because they’re tired and they’re grumpy and they have brain fog. So, just addressing nutritional deficiencies can help them in that way. Because they’re feeling a lot better and they’re motivated and they want to lose weight or get healthier.

DR CABOT: That’s right. Getting your brain going is very important.

LOUISE: Definitely.

DR CABOT: Because if you eat right, you’re feeding your brain the essential fatty acids, the minerals, the vitamins that it needs to make neurotransmitters. So that’s going to help your mood a lot.

LOUISE: Exactly. That’s a big thing.

DR CABOT: Yeah. So how long does it take in the consultation with you to develop a meal plan?

LOUISE: So, the consultation takes about half an hour to an hour. It depends whether we’re doing a full consultation or just a shorter meal plan questionnaire. But the meal plan I do afterwards. So, it takes me a good few hours to actually develop the meal plan because I have to really go over it and make sure that I’m hitting the nutrient targets and that it’s tailor made specifically to our goals and the taste buds of the client. And also, whether how much time they want to spend cooking, what type of kitchen equipment they have.

DR CABOT: Because some people don’t want to cook.

LOUISE: Exactly. So, in that case, I need to tailor it so that meals that can be easily thrown together. So, it actually takes me a long time to come up with it. So usually allow up to a week and then I send through the meal plan and then I can chat with the client and see if they’ve got any concerns or questions about it.

DR CABOT: Great! Okay, so if someone wants to consult you, well they can go to our website, which is Dr Sandra Cabot Clinics, and the phone number is there. They can call or they can email us and they can make an appointment.

LOUISE: Yeah, yeah. They can just make an appointment with me. If they want to speak to me over the phone first, they can. I’m happy to talk them through and see whether what I do is appropriate for them.

DR CABOT: Yes, great! That’s good. I know so many people, I’ll tell them what not to eat, but then they don’t know how to make the healthy foods interesting.

LOUISE: Yeah, I’ve had that with a couple of your clients, Dr Cabot, that you’ve referred on to me. And they’ve got this list of things they’re not allowed to eat, and that’s all their diet was beforehand. And they’re panicking and they’re like, “Well, I’m not allowed to eat any of this, so what can I eat?” And that’s where I can really help because I can give them all these new ideas of healthy foods they can eat. And then they’re not stressing so much about what they can’t eat. They’re focusing on what they can eat. And it really does put their minds at ease.

DR CABOT: That’s right. Louise has made some great snacks for us with our Ocean Superfood kelp and nut paste. And what else?

LOUISE: It had tahini and chia seeds in there. They’re tasty.

DR CABOT: It’s really healthy and it’s not fattening. This is low carb.

LOUISE: Yes, exactly. And high in protein and healthy fat, so it keeps you full.

DR CABOT: Yeah. Great! Well, lovely to talk to Louise Belle, our resident nutritionist. And thank you for listening, everyone.

LOUISE: Thank you. Bye bye.