Author Archives: Emely Edwards

April 2016


April 2016 Newsletter

Greetings, all! Many times when I begin the monthly newsletter, I tend to get desperate for material and peruse the weird national holidays that take place during that month. Among my favorites for April are National Ex Spouse Day, No Housework Day, Hairstyle Appreciation Day, Hug an Australian Day, National Tell A Lie Day, Russian Cosmonaut Day, and my personal favorite, the alarmingly morose Plan Your Epitaph Day. However, there is one of these “holidays” (to use the term loosely) that actually sticks out and is relevant from a weight loss vantage point, and this is National Stress Awareness Day on April 16th. I imagine it is no coincidence that this comes the day after tax season concludes.

Life stress is a topic that I discuss with most every patient who comes through our door. Most of you know at this point that a high-stress lifestyle is not conducive to maintaining a healthy weight or a healthy mind. However, it is without a doubt very difficult to combat it. I know this because it is very rare that I see people take actual concrete measures to reduce the amount of stress in their lives.

I’ve attached an article from Psychology Today that discusses how stress affects our health. The only thing I would like to note is that the article does not mention stressor reduction (the stressor being the cause), only stress management (the stress being the effect). Even though some life stressors are not a choice on the individual’s behalf, there are some that we have the ability to counter-influence. In addition to looking at how to manage the stress in your own life, I would challenge you to also look at the cause(s) and really evaluate if there is anything (or anyone) you can distance yourself from or a situation that you can alter in the name of your own mental health. This is always easier said than done, but paying the price of your health to avoid interrupting the flow of things can seem like a questionable sacrifice when you look back.



Catherine Brach, Weight Loss LMHC

We are fully committed to providing you with all of the necessary tools to support you in achieving your weight loss goals. If you have further questions or concerns between follow-up visits please feel free to contact us.

Greater Orlando Medical Weight Loss
424 Lake Howell Road, Maitland, FL 32751
7319 Stonerock Circle, Suite 100, Orlando, FL

[email protected]


March 2016

To Cheat or not to Cheat?

This month I have decided to tackle the age-old dilemma of the cheat meal. Actually, it’s not really age-old because people didn’t really start going on diets until we as a society basically lost touch with most of our internal cues regarding hunger and fullness.

Anywho, every health and wellness specialist seems to have an opinion when it comes to whether or not one who is adhering to a restrictive diet should incorporate a cheat meal/sanity meal/pleasurefest. Truth is, it really depends on the individual. It is odd to think of cheating in general as a good thing: Cheating on a test does not improve one’s academic capabilities, cheating on your spouse is a surefire way to mess up your relationship (if it wasn’t already), and so why would cheating on your meal plan improve your weight loss outcome? Well, there are numerous reasons, some of them psychological and others metabolic. In this article, it is my goal to help you figure out if putting a cheat meal on the radar is for you or not.

Let’s first talk tackle the physiological benefits, as they are far more concrete and apply to almost all humans. As many of you know, eating too low calorie or not varying the foods that you are taking in can slow a person’s metabolism. Similar to our muscles, our digestive system needs a variety a foods and calorie levels in order to achieve maximum caloric burn. A cheat meal can very much break up the monotony of eating a lower calorie diet of foods that are very similar to one another. The increase in metabolic rate after a cheat meal can last up to about 3 days. This can allow the person who has reached a plateau to get their engine revving again. Often, body weight a couple of days after a cheat meal is lower than it was before. And you got to eat some of your favorites!

Now for the more abstract psychological benefits of the controversial cheat meal. First, it eliminates absolutes. “I am NEVER eating fries again.” “I will stay under 1,200 calories every day.” “I can never have happy hour with the girls.” “I never speak in absolutes.” [Ha, ha] Thinking in extremes is very likely to put you in the danger zone, because when it comes to food habits and lifestyle, it is very unlikely that ‘never’ and ‘always’ will pan out the way you think. We tend to make emotional decisions, especially when we are very angry with ourselves for gaining weight in the first place. The cheat meal needs to be absent of emotional decision-making. This means making the decision to have something that you enjoy, while recognizing that it can ultimately be an investment that will help keep you on track. If you are someone who is not yet ready to separate yourself emotionally from some of your favorite foods, this is likely a good indicator that a cheat meal is not for you at this juncture in your program.

If done properly, a well-sanctioned cheat meal can really help to break up the monotony of dieting and keep you on track for much longer. It also helps prepare you for the inevitable grey area, which is a lifelong balancing act that will be well worth the effort once maintenance comes. I have heard many people describe the almost oppressive nature of being on a restrictive diet, as if they are voluntarily being punished for who they are. They feel it is unfair because they have to diet and others do not. A cheat meal can be vital in fostering a sense of ‘normalcy’ and participating in one’s own life. In the words of the wonderful Oscar Wilde, “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”

Guidelines for a cheat meal done right

Create clear sanctions. Identify what food(s) you will have, where you will go, and what quantity. Be as specific as possible and know that, when it is over, it’s over. Vague planning can lead to more room for error or out of control eating brought about by good intentions gone bad.

Make sure it is a meal, not a day. You generally want to stay under about 1,000 calories for a cheat meal. This is not an all day binge I am talking about. If your favorite food is nachos, get a nacho appetizer as your meal. If it is pizza, have 2 or 3 slices of your favorite pizza. If it is a combination of foods, understand that it is generally a plate or a meal’s worth of these items. And remember to mentally close the door when all is said and done.

Skip your weigh-in the next morning. I know you want to get on that scale the next day. Don’t do it. This is unlikely to come as a surprise, but large meals and immediate weight loss don’t generally go together. Wait until 2 days later to step on again if you are someone who tends to weigh every morning.

Please find a way to enjoy it! If you see yourself becoming anxious to the point where it isn’t fun when it comes to having a cheat meal, you are probably not ready to do so. And this is perfectly okay. The difference between a cheat meal and a binge is that a person has a cheat meal on their own terms. They are the one in control. A binge episode implies the compulsion to eat foods that the person knows they should not have. In this scenario, it is the food that is in control. If you can look forward to it without obsessing, and look back on it without longing, a cheat meal can be a wonderful way to stay on track toward your ultimate goal.


Catherine Brach, LMHC
Senior Counselor

March 2016

dr-cruzFrom the Desk of Dr. Cruz:
Proudly Serving Central Florida
for over 15 years.

Check out this month’s article from Buzzfeed that features low-carb recipes for Spring!

27 Low-Carb Dinners That Are Great For Spring


Dr. Cruz

January 2016

This month I decided to pull an article from another source. It was refreshing to come across a piece that wasn’t offering up the usual cliche pop psychology advice regarding New Year’s Resolutions.

It addresses the idea of something called “cultural procrastination,” or delaying progress because it is culturally encouraged or acceptable to do so. Sound familiar?


Cultural Procrastination: The Psychology of New Year’s Resolutions

Also, please scroll down to the bottom of this email to see the awesome specials we are running through January. New patients can get their first month of visits for the price of their initial visit! We are also doing very low cost restarts for those of you who have had some difficulty maintaining. Take advantage, people!


Catherine Brach, LMHC
Senior Counselor

January 2016

dr-cruzFrom the Desk of Dr. Cruz:
Proudly Serving Central Florida
for over 15 years.

Check out this healthy soup recipe! Soup can be a very nutritious food and is often overlooked on a weight loss program.


Dr. Cruz

Chicken & Spinach Soup with Fresh Pesto

Adapted from EatingWell
Makes: 5 servings, about 1 1/2 cups each


  • 2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup carrot or diced red bell pepper
  • 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 8 ounces), cut into quarters
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried marjoram
  • 6 ounces baby spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 1 15-ounce can cannellini beans or great northern beans, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste


  1. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add carrot (or bell pepper) and chicken; cook, turning the chicken and stirring frequently, until the chicken begins to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Stir in broth and marjoram; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  2. With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken pieces to a clean cutting board to cool. Add spinach and beans to the pot and bring to a gentle boil. Cook for 5 minutes to blend the flavors.
  3. Combine the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, Parmesan and basil in a food processor (a mini processor works well). Process until a coarse paste forms, adding a little water and scraping down the sides as necessary.
  4. Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces. Stir the chicken and pesto into the pot. Season with pepper. Heat until hot. Garnish with croutons, if desired.


Per serving: 204 calories; 8 g fat (2 g sat, 4 g mono); 29 mg cholesterol; 16 g carbohydrates; 18 g protein; 6 g fiber; 691 mg sodium; 529 mg potassium.

December 2015


“Playing with Portions”

Greetings all! The holiday season is officially upon us. Whether you are one of those people who looks forward to this all year or someone who can’t wait for normal life to resume, there are certain inevitabilities that few of us can avoid. One in particular is that December is a time of year when perceived control over what foods are available is the lowest. Family feasts, holiday parties, and work functions prevail. Patrons bring in sugary treats to show their gratitude (is there no other way??), and cookies and candy basically manifest out of thin air.

Therefore, it is likely that certain exceptions will be made for many of you who are following a ketogenic program. Of course, in an ideal world, you would maintain a tight dietary regimen and sail right on through. I can assure you, however, that this population is a vast minority. So what it’s going to be about in December is something rather different: how to go off of your plan properly without derailing everything. Believe me, it can be done.

Essentially, as a general rule during the holidays, I propose a shift from focusing mostly on the content of what you are eating to focusing more on the quantity of what you are eating. Here are a few sneaky ideas to help control portions through the holiday party season:

  1. The “one plate” rule. Load up one time and call it a meal. If you refill on anything, make it vegetables. If there are hors d’oeuvres or dessert, follow the same general rule of one small plate of appetizers or one small piece of dessert. This helps to define the parameters of what you are eating, and may help to slow down the pace at which you eat, knowing that you won’t be going back for seconds.
  2. Be an opportunist. Make the quieter days count. If you have an opportunity to make healthy choices or plan your meals out, do so! The holidays are not an excuse to throw caution to the wind the entire time. When it’s within your control, take advantage and eat something that will nourish you! This is more commonly known as damage control.
  3. Spoil your appetite. I know this is not new diet advice for many of you. However, it is a classic for a reason! Eating a small snack that is high in protein an hour before a large meal has been show to be a predictor of decreased overall intake throughout the day. Going to a food-intensive event with a grumbling stomach, or banking calories, is never a great idea for someone on a weight loss plan.
  4. Wear something snug! I swear this works. Many of you are going down in sizes these days. Perhaps you are on the precipice of going from a size 14 to a size 12. If you are going to a party or a dinner, wear a 12! With less wiggle room, people tend to naturally eat less due to overestimating how full they really are. Be reasonable, of course- I don’t want you to commit a fashion faux-pas, be horribly uncomfortable, or be the guy in the straightjacket. It’s just another way to trick your body into being satisfied with less.
  5. Don’t deprive yourself. This may sound confusing to you after reading the first four tips. However, what I am referring to is finding a balance between participating in all the seasonal foods and retaining a sense of control. How many times have you gone to a party and said, “I’m not going to have anything I shouldn’t”? Fast forward a couple of cocktails later and you are running the food table like a boss (this is a bad thing). Give yourself permission to have the foods that you really want, but within reason. This is why it is so important to have personal sanctions to keep yourself in check. And when the party is over, it’s over. Back on track the next day!

Maintain over the Holidays

One last thing I want to mention is with regard to expectations. Some of the best advice I can give you is, “Do not expect to lose over the holidays.” This isn’t saying that you cannot lose weight between now and January. However, it seems that trying to do so can be mentally defeating at times, and set the person up to fall short. Most people tend to gain a few pounds during this time, including your former self on certain years. So we really need to think of maintaining over the holiday season like losing. It is a huge victory! I hope you are all able make choices that you feel confident about, and above all, have a beautiful holiday season!


Catherine Brach, LMHC
Senior Counselor

November 2015

dr-cruzFrom the Desk of Dr. Cruz
Proudly Serving Central Florida
for over 15 years

In lieu of providing a single receipe, here is a link to 100 medically approved low-carb holiday recipes. These include appetizers, main dishes, and desserts. Please take a look and happy holidays to all!

100 Low-Carb Holiday Recipes


Dr. Cruz

Encouragement Promotes Weight Loss

Orlando Weight Loss Program

Encouragement Promotes Weight Loss

Author: Emely Edwards

If you find it challenging to follow diets and exercise regimens, you may be lacking the proper amount of encouragement. When it comes to losing weight and keeping it off, staying motivated is the key to success. Exercising and dieting can be counterproductive if you do not have motivation. With the Greater Orlando weight loss program, you not only receive professional supervision, you are encouraged to stay ambitious about your goals.The most effective way to stay motivated while attempting to lose weight is through the ongoing support of others. If you surround yourself with people who have a vested interest in your success, you will triumph. At the Greater Orlando weight loss clinic, you will be given the one-on-one attention and support you need. Professionals will encourage and guide you every step of the way while gauging your success as well.

Following a personalized diet and exercise plan is also a valuable tool when it comes to receiving weight loss encouragement. Once you understand that your personal needs are important and vital to another person, you will be more determined to shed the pounds. The Greater Orlando weight loss staff will provide you with a regimen that is based on your individual goals whether they are medically-based or solely about aesthetics.

Weight loss encouragement is not only about having a personalized plan or support system. Encouragement can stem from knowledge as well. With this Orlando weight loss program, you will learn why and how fat is stored. This small bit of wisdom can take you far in your weight loss efforts. Once you understand what is happening inside your own body, you can regulate how your meals are processed.

Fast and Effective Weight Loss via Encouragement

The Greater Orlando weight loss program also teaches you how to maintain your weight loss. This may be the most essential encouragement you will receive. With nutritional counseling, you can avoid the pitfalls that many dieters face. You will also be given new ideas for staying fit and increasing your energy. When you are armed with a vast array of weight loss information, you will find the inner strength you may have lacked in the past.

With quality, professional supervision, you can easily achieve your weight loss goals. The Greater Orlando weight loss program provides you with effective long-term weight loss techniques. You will learn how to have realistic expectations so you do not get discouraged. If you want to lose weight and get fit, you may just need a bit of encouragement. The right amount of inspiration can be a springboard to permanent weight loss and a healthy lifestyle.

Losing Weight in Orlando with Greater Orlando Medical Weight Loss

Orlando Weight Loss – Encouragement

Our program is all about YOU. We custom tailor our approach for every patient. We are pleased to offer a very flexible schedule at any one of our three locations. You can visit our Orlando Weight Loss Program in Maitland, Lake Mary or Dr. Phillips (Sandlake). Our philosophy is simple, we follow the Golden Rule. Our desire is to treat others the way that we would like to be treated. We know losing weight in Orlando can be challenging. There are many factors that contribute to this; time, motivation, hormonal changes, metabolism, lack of energy, lack of knowledge. The Greater Orlando Medical Weight loss program understands these factors and we have a comprehensive approach to overcome every single challenge.

Losing Weight in Orlando; Custom Tailored
We focus on patient results that are long term. Dr. Cruz has created a program that avoids unhealthy rapid weight loss and instead aims to achieve lifestyle changes that our patients can use forever. As you learn more about Greater Orlando Medical Weight Loss and our approach, we hope that you feel confident in knowing that you are dealing with the leader in effective medical weight loss in Orlando. Our staff is incredible and attentive to the needs of our patients with out being judgmental or making you feel uncomfortable. In fact, our nurses are program graduates that understand the journey. Feel free to view the videos posted on our site, many people report that after viewing our videos, they have decided to choose Greater Orlando Medical Weight Loss because of the approachable nature and down to earth personalities of our staff. We are just like you, and we treat you the way you wish to be treated. There is a great reason you are viewing this information at this moment. There is no such thing as happenstance so go with your instinct, and remember, timing is everything and NOW is YOUR time.

What to expect from Your Orlando Weight Loss Team

Our Orlando Weight Loss Clinic uses many tools to assist you towards your goals. Our nutritional guidance in not calorie restrictive, you eat regular foods and never any prepackaged meals. We focus on high protein and lower carbohydrates to assist you weight loss goals while maintaining lean muscle mass. Dr. Cruz regularly prescribes an FDA approved appetite suppressant to help curb hunger while you are achieving life-style changes. Our Orlando weight loss program also administers weekly injections of B5,B6,B12 and amino acids to provide more energy and speed up metabolism. Never HCG (hormones). Start losing weight today! Call Greater Orlando Medical Weight Loss to schedule a free consultation or to make your initial appointment.

April 2012 Patient of the Month


This is my story.

At one time I weighed 180 Ibs. I needed a serious back surgery. It is so hard to care about what you are eating when you feel terrible and you can’t get around and you just hurt all the time anyway. I happen to be married to an angel. He never quit trying to think of new ideas to keep me going and not give up, always taking me special places and planning exciting things to do. But I just could not drag myself around anymore. I just wanted to lie down and DIE.

Then I met a wonderful group of young ladies at:


With their great encouragement and smiles and cheering me on each week, and the constant support of my special Angel, I have managed to make it thru a horrific back surgery. The best news is I now have met my goal weight of 139 Ibs. and I am thrilled. The injections and supplements have kept the cravings under control even when I went thru the steroid injections. Please believe me, If I can loose weight with this program.


I will continue with the maintenance program. I know I will always need guidance so that I don’t slip back into the terrible way Americans have developed their eating habits. It’s really sad to see what they are doing to themselves.

Wake up America!! That stuff you are putting in your mouth is going to destroy you!!

Central Florida needs to break the obesity cycle – article from the Orlando Sentinel


obesity_definitionAn article from this weekends Orlando Sentinel shared the opinion of the paper along with highlighting some initiatives in Central Florida that were enjoying success in the change movement. The write up cites choice making as the answer to change. We agree the correct choices are helpful, but what if people don’t know the correct choices or if there is other circumstances that have complicated the lives of so many facing obesity. Generally speaking, we think this article is a over simplification of the obesity epidemic in Central Florida – however, we are pleased that the message is being delivered and that local governments are willing to play a role in creating and providing weight loss encouragement to the citizens living in the area. The actual results will be the only matrix by which the success of these government programs. We have all seen so much waste and lip service from government that it is easy to be skeptical.

The courage and commitment we see here at GO on a daily basis reflects a general sentiment of change in the community and our patients are great examples for their families, co-workers and friends and with that – we say – “GREAT JOB!” and we recognize and applaud you! Your commitment and hard work are truly inspiring and this is what keeps us working hard everyday – for YOU!

Anyway, the article is a thought provoking look at obesity from the context of health, expense and ideas…. enough so we wanted to re post the article here on our site.

Here is the Article from the Orlando Sentinel published on Sunday May 19th, 2013 :

Not so long ago, about one in every 10 adult Floridians was obese.

Today, if you line up four Floridians, one of them will be obese.

The good news? At least we’re not Mississippi, where every third person has a body mass index of 30 or higher — the definition of

The body mass index is a critical measure of the relationship between weight and height, a ratio that’s getting more out of whack every year.

And it doesn’t look good for young people, either. More than 10 percent of adolescents and children between 2 and 5 are obese.

The rates have been accelerating like a runaway train, and today not a single state in the nation has an obesity rate of less than 20 percent of its population.

If you’re a lean, mean exercise machine, suppress the urge to crack a joke or sniff your disdain for fatties.

This is your problem, too.

Everyone suffers from the obesity epidemic, whether it’s the couch potato who ends up with chronic heart disease or the triathlete whose insurance premiums go up to pay for those illnesses.

One study estimated that health-care costs for obese people are 42 percent higher than for people of normal weight, and that the burden of treating obesity has increased to nearly 10 percent of all medical spending. Possibly as much as $150 billion per year.

That’s a staggering amount of money to pay for an out-of-control problem.

But not everyone is standing by while the nation gets super-sized.

In Eatonville, Mayor Bruce Mount is leading twice-weekly walks through the city. Residents like 74-year-old walker Jurlean Tompkins are seeing results. So is Tompkins’ doctor, who has been able to cut back her diabetes medication. Diabetes is rampant in Eatonville, where an estimated 25 percent of the population suffers from the disease, nearly triple the national average.

Eatonville is part of an axis of cities promoting healthier living, along with Winter Park and Maitland. The cities are working through the Healthy Central Florida partnership to encourage lifestyles that steer people clear of obesity.

Similar initiatives should be taking root in communities throughout Central Florida. Like the tri-city mayors, elected officials are in the unique position of not only setting an example but also setting up programs to help their constituents and, in the process, help their communities become better places to live.

Individuals, too, need to accept more personal responsibility for their health, and set better examples for their children. Because no matter how many programs are launched or how many medical advances are made, our nation can’t turn back the tide of obesity if people aren’t willing to make better choices.

July 2013 Updates, News and Events

Greater Orlando Medical Weight Loss Newsletter July 2013 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Dear Friends, Happy Fourth of July! Have a Safe and FUN Fourth! This month we wanted to share a testimonial from one of our patient of the month – Debi Olsen. We hope you find her words and encouraging, we are so happy for you Debi!

Have you ever hit a “low” in your life?

Well, I sure did. I had such devastation in my life, losing my father suddenly and then losing my champion show dog. That sent me in a whirl-wind downward spiral, and that is when I turned to food for comfort. I went on a vacation to the mountains last summer and could not finish the hike to the waterfall, so I told my husband and friends to go on and I’ll wait for them. I sat there for a few minutes gathered myself and then I got up to continue on by myself. That is when an angel sent a family to me just as I was ready to collapse from exhaustion, her and her family walked with me the last 100 yards to the waterfall. That is when I decided that I needed to make THE change.

I talked it over with my loving husband and explained how I was feeling and that I needed to change things for the better. I was active to a small degree, but when it came to eating I was lost. I started my Journey with Greater Orlando Medical Weight Loss clinic in August 2012 and have not looked back. I was taught to eat the right foods and I also started a more productive workout regimen. I have lost a total of 90 lbs in 43 weeks. I am almost to my goal and I can’t believe it!!

I cannot explain how truly amazing I feel at this time, but can tell you the smile on my face has only gotten bigger. I have done 3 5K’s and have more scheduled. I’ve gotten stronger physically and mentally. When I started off I was excited that I was doing it for me, but as my goal gets closer I hope that my story has also inspired my family and friends to do something good for them. I tell everyone that I’m not on a “diet” but I’m on a new journey for living. I have a motto that I tell myself every morning when I get up: “No pain, no gain. Believe in yourself and “YOU” will achieve it.” -Debi Olsen ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ We have a new contest for July! If you lose weight for 4 consecutive weeks, you will be a winner and receive a token to win a prize or discount on your visit! It could be one of the following: * Discount for your visit or a FREE visit * FREE products * FREE supplements * Extra B6 and/or B12 Inquire Today! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ A Healthier Way to Grill July 2013 From the Desk of Dr. Cruz

Proudly Serving Central Florida for over 14 years

Hopefully many of you will be enjoying the inevitable Fourth of July Bar B Q! Many times we refer to WebMd for weight loss tips and ideas. This month is ” A healthier Way to Grill”. This article highlights general healthy tips for grilling and is a useful guide. You may need to adjust the recipes depending on what phase you are in. Enjoy!

Dr. Cruz

A Healthier Way to Grill 6 ways to avoid the pitfalls of barbecuing WebMD Weight Loss Clinic – Expert Column

What’s the word on grilling: Is it a good thing or a bad thing? After all, one of the golden rules of eating healthy at restaurants is to choose “grilled” foods over “fried” choices. That’s because grilled food is generally a healthier choice — there’s no batter coating or dripping grease.Besides, there’s something about the act of grilling that just makes food look and taste fantastic. Is it the smoky flavor, the fun flavors of marinades, the grill lines that form on the food, or the fresh taste that comes from cooking something over high heat for a short amount of time? Try all of the above!

I hate to burst your “isn’t-grilling-fun?” bubble, but the way I see it, there are two nutritional downsides to grilling.

* Many Americans end up eating very high-fat meats and sausages when they fire up the barbie — pumping yet more calories, fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol into their diets. * Then there’s the matter of a couple of potentially cancer-causing compounds: polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs). PAHs form when fat from the meat drips onto the hot coals or grill element. They’re then deposited on the food courtesy of flame-ups and rising smoke. Unfortunately, that yummy charring that forms on meat can contain PAHs as well. HCAs, meanwhile, are produced when red meat, poultry and fish meet high-heat cooking, like grilling or broiling.

But don’t despair, grill lovers — a new, healthy way to grill is possible!

6 Keys to Healthy Grilling Follow these tips, and you can grill without guilt.

1. Grill Fruits and Vegetables

Grilling fruits and vegetables is a great idea, whether or not you’re grilling meat or fish to go with them. We all need to eat more fruits and vegetables, and this is an appealing way to serve them. I probably don’t need to remind you that eating fruits and vegetables benefits the body in so many ways — reducing your risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, obesity, and some types of cancer. But here’s the best part: PAHs and HCAs don’t form on grilled fruits and vegetables. Plus, if you are having grilled meat, it’s a great idea to get antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables in the same meal. Some fruits and vegetables that are great to grill: * Tomatoes * Onions * Bell peppers * Zucchini * Eggplant * Endive * Pineapple * Mango * Apple * Pear

2. Grill Smart, Grill Lean

When you’re grilling meat, limit the amount of fat that drips on the coals by starting with lean cuts trimmed of visible fat and skin. If you put a very lean cut of beef or pork, or skinless chicken, onto the grill, you’re off to a healthy start. (Following Tip No. 3 can help make most lean cuts more tender and tasty, too.)

3. Marinate, Marinate, Marinate

You’ve gotta love the idea of infusing flavor into meats, fruits, and vegetables by soaking them in a tasty marinade. Some favorite marinade ingredients include wines, vinegars, lemon or lime juice, low-sodium soy sauce, honey, garlic, onions, herbs, and spices. Use fat-free or low-fat marinades on your grilled meats, fish, and poultry to limit the fat that drips on the coals. The simple act of marinating before grilling has been shown to reduce the formation of HCAs by as much as 92% to 99% in some studies.

Keep these marinating tips in mind:

* When choosing bottled marinades or making your own, look for products or recipes that contain olive or canola oil (and that only use a little oil). * Refrigerate any foods that are marinating longer than 1/2 hour. * Don’t baste your food during grilling with the liquid the meat was marinating in (this passes raw meat juices to your cooked meat). Before you add the meat, set aside some of your marinade for this purpose. * Meats and poultry should marinate at least 1-2 hours; fish and vegetables generally only need to marinate for an hour.

4. Cut Down on Grilling Time

Grill smaller portions of meat, poultry, and fish so they cook faster and spend less time on the grill. Another trick is to precook the meat, fish, and poultry in the oven or microwave, then finish cooking on the grill.

5. Flip It — Flip It Good

Flipping food frequently may help prevent the formation of HCAs, according to recent research using hamburger patties. To turn meat without piercing it (which releases juices that drip onto the coals), use tongs or spatulas instead of a fork.

6. Skewer It

A fun way to cut down on grilling time is to thread small pieces of meat or fish on a skewer. Scallops and shrimp are naturals for skewers, too. I like to alternate pieces of meat, chicken, or seafood with bell pepper and onion pieces, zucchini slices, cherry tomatoes, and/or small mushrooms. Don’t have skewers? No problemo. I love to use branches of rosemary as my skewers. They infuse a hint of rosemary into the food as it cooks — not to mention the beautiful presentation it makes.

Fire Up the Barbie

Now that you’ve learned some healthy grilling secrets, here are three lightened-up recipes to try.

Patient of the Month – Renne’s Story – Orlando Weight Loss Success

Great Work Renne, we are so proud of you!

Greater Orlando Medical Weight Loss helped me to lose the weight I could not lose on my own. Before starting the program I had spent years feeling helpless and out-of-control.I now look forward to seeing Terri and Madeline each week, as they are my own personal cheerleading team.I’m so excited to have not only enough energy to get through life but to get involved and enjoy life.

I was so excited when I was offered a sit-down, office job almost ten years ago.What I didn’t realize was my eating habits should have changed to support my new, sedentary lifestyle.I continued to rationalize as the pounds came on, and I would avoid cameras, scales, and mirrors.My energy was depleted, and I started to realize I didn’t have the energy to do even the simple tasks of daily life, much less to have hobbies or interests.I’d order a large pizza on Sundays and eat the whole thing by myself while watching TV.My dog and I both gained weight because I wasn’t getting out much.

Last October, I caught a cold that wouldn’t go away.I had four trips to the doctor and tried a variety of medication.The last trip was the day after Christmas, when I saw that I weighed 222 pounds.I wanted to cry.How did I get this bad?This wasn’t the way I wanted to spend the rest of my life.That was when I found Greater Orlando Medical Weight Loss.I was a little skeptical at first.I had tried and failed Medifast, Weight Watchers, and making changes on my own.Could they really help?Could I stay motivated?How would this time be different?

This time IT was different.The support from Terri and Madeline has been phenomenal, and the approach was easy to follow. They’ve been so helpful and supportive throughout this journey. I’ve lost over 80 pounds in eight months, and my dog is looking healthy too!I love having energy to go places and do things I’ve started cooking and trying new foods, running, learning Korean (my godson is Korean), and I just enrolled in swimming lessons!