Transgender and Eating Disorders

Transgender and Eating Disorders

Christie Caggiani, RDN, LDN, CEDRD
Christie Caggiani, RDN, LDN, CEDRD

It has long been said that eating disorders don’t discriminate: we know they affect people of all ages, education levels, ethnic backgrounds, lifestyles and genders.  We’ve become clear that it affects middle-age women at an alarming rate, is on the rise in underdeveloped countries and impacts males as well as females. Yet little has been researched on the prevalence of eating disorders among the transgender community.  However, the research is slowly emerging, giving us some insight on the impact felt in this community.

One study of 289,024 college students found that transgender students, compared to cisgender students, are almost five times as likely to report an eating disorder and two times as likely to use unhealthy compensatory methods (e.g., vomiting) for weight control.*  Another study of almost 2,500 teenagers shows that transgender individuals are almost three times as likely to restrict their eating, almost nine times as likely to take diet pills, and seven times as likely to take laxatives.*

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Personal Perspective: I am NOT a Square!

Personal Perspective:
I am NOT a Square!

Elliot Reid

Do I have your attention yet? Not that attention is what I’m after, or perhaps it is.  Not in the typical sense.  Before this becomes too much of an incoherent babbling of utter nonsense, where I try to convince you why I’m not an attention seeking square, let me tell you what I mean.  When you think of the word “square” in relation to a person, what is the first thing you think of?  Is it the cult classic pop culture reference of an “L” “7” weenie from The Sandlot?  Is it the common depiction of one who is often considered nerdy or a geek? To ease your mind, it is none of the above.

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The Gender Identity Lexicon

The most recent issue of Oasis News shined the spotlight on gender identity and transgender awareness. Our therapists felt it was important to provide readers with useful knowledge, unique perspectives, and helpful resources on transgender and gender identity issues.  Whether a family member is transitioning, you have a friend who has gender identity issues, or you just want more information on the topic, we hope you find this information useful.  

The Gender Identity Lexicon
Nicole Friedman, Psy.D., CEDS

Language is a powerful tool that shapes our perceptions and significantly impacts the lens through which we interpret events in our world. Precise use of language, which is constantly changing, can demystify misperceptions about gender.  While this list is certainly not all inclusive, it begins to provide a basic understanding to facilitate more understanding and dialogue.

Agender: A newer term describing individuals who do not have a gender and/or have a gender that they describe as neutral.

Bigender: Refers to those individuals that identify as having two genders.

Cisgender: People whose sex assignment is congruent with their gender identity and expression.

Gender: Is a term wherein society deems someone as either male or female. Gender is socially constructed and not necessarily the same as one’s biological sex.

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Peaceful Eating: Creating Calm Throughout the Holidays

christie-caggiani2
Christie Caggiani, RDN, LDN, CEDRD

We have arrived at holiday season. Here we are.

Breathe.

This time of year is fraught with crazy busy schedules, high expectations, traditions, emotions, exhaustion….and food is often central to all of it. But does food need to add more confusion, or can it actually help us create some peace, balance and sanity during this festive time?

It is my belief and experience as a nutrition therapist that we often interact with and respond to food as a reflection of the way we “do life”. So if food is our Life on a Plate, then it’s no wonder we feel overwhelmed with food choices when we enter this intense, calendar-packed time of the year. Can we celebrate, be fulfilled and feel joy – both with food and our holiday experiences?

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Detachment in Love

“In true love, you attain freedom.  When you love, you bring freedom to the person you love.  If the opposite is true, it is not true love.” 

Thich Nhat Hanh, True Love

unnamedIt’s no secret that romantic relationships are complicated.  So many of us strive for perfect relationships based on unrealistic standards, or love out of familiar family patterns.  We may find ourselves feeling stuck in our relationships – mindlessly living day by day in unhappiness or feeling trapped by our partner’s expectations.  With so much relationship advice floating around, how do we find the right tools to cultivate true love in our own lives?

When clients seek me out for relationship guidance, I explain attachment versus detachment.  In unhealthy relationships, partners are attached to each other.  Partners may be unclear as to what keeps them connected, and might be fearful, jealous, or afraid of being alone.  Symptoms might include constant bickering, insecurity, or jealously.  Partners may attempt to regulate each other, or project issues onto their partner.  Codependency may be the foundation of the relationship.

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Living in Wise Mind: DBT Skills for Everyone

One of the tenets of DBT (Dialetical Behavior Therapy) is recognizing Wise Mind.  We all have moments in life where we are overly emotional, moody, or reactive.  In DBT, this is called Emotion Mind.  “When in emotion mind, you are ruled by your moods, feelings, and urges to do or say things.  Facts, reason, and logic are not important.” [1]

The opposite of Emotion Mind is Reasonable Mind, a state in which we operate “by facts, reason, logic, and pragmatics.  Values and feelings are not important.” [1]  In this state, we might approach people in the same way that we might handle an arithmetic problem – systematically. 

Wise Mind Chart

Both states of mind have useful attributes; however, when an individual spends too much time in either Emotion or Reasonable Mind, they are bound to experience frustrations in their interpersonal dealings and within themselves.

The overlap between Emotion and Reasonable Mind is called Wise Mind.  Wise Mind is the perfect balance between reason and emotion.  Individuals living in Wise Mind are able to utilize both reason and emotion, taking the middle path to cultivate emotional sensitivity and a calm, cool collectedness.   A Wise Mind lives intuitively, taking the time to observe and practice mindfulness.  Finding this balance is one of the primary goals of DBT practice.

[1] Quotes from DBT Skills Training, Marsha M. Linehan

Meditation on College Campuses

Asia Adams, Staff Writer

Take projects, presentations, term papers and exams, throw in a job, and then add family and social life to the equation, and you have a recipe for lots of stress. I know – I was there over a year and half ago! With an increasing number of demands on college students, it’s no wonder many of them are seeking ways to reduce the harmful effects of stress on both mind and body.

Putting aside a little bit of quiet time each week to recharge and focus on something other than schoolwork is important, and this is where meditation comes in. It’s free, can be done virtually anywhere, anytime, and is highly effective. What more could a college student want from a practice?

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A Therapist with HEArt

Sara Goldstein, Staff Writer

On most days, Clara Bossie can be found tucked away in her office at Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches.  It isn’t your typical office though.  Clara’s workspace reflects her personality, which is best described as waggish.  The seven to nine clients she sees daily often are seen in Clara’s art studio, where any supply ranging from glitter to buttons can be found.  There is a mindfulness corner adorned with soft, fluffy pillows and Beanie Babies.  Her bookshelves are adorned with children’s books and a portrait of Clara’s mini toy schnauzer, Julz, who also puts in as much time in the office as her owner.

Clara Talking
Clara Bossie, LMFT, speaks with HEArt Show supporters.

It is hard to imagine that a busy professional with a full workload could possibly coordinate an annual fundraising event without the help of paid professionals.  Yet, Ms. Bossie has managed to do so for the past four years.  The soft-spoken therapist is very clear on her ambitious goals, which include growing the HEArt (Healing Through Expressive Arts) Show, creating a “Tri-Chillin” event (a triathlon for relaxation junkies), and eventually running as mayor for the city of Delray Beach.  Coming from someone else, these goals would appear to be a farce.  However, those that know Clara are well aware of the force behind this educator, therapist, and artist.

This year’s HEArt Show: “A Hollywood Story”, sponsored by Art for Alzheimer’s, took place on Friday, February 5, 2016, benefitting the Louis & Anne Green Memory and Wellness Center of the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing at Florida Atlantic University.  The HEArt Show’s mission is to promote awareness of the healing power of expressive arts and to raise funds for organizations that utilize art in the healing process.  In other words, the show reflects Clara’s unique background, aiming to teach, help, and encourage others to embrace creativity.

The red carpet was unrolled for the evening’s guests, who entered the transformed space of the Memory and Wellness Center.  Pop up installations displayed pieces from professional and amateur artists.  Featured artists included Salvatore Principe, Brendan Murphy, Charles Edward Soto, Amanda Johnson, Ona Steele, Pat Kaufman, and Bobby Grossman.  Attendees sampled culinary delights provided by Silver Sac Catering and Saltwater Brewery against a backdrop of live music.

In addition to the art display, the HEArt Show invited everyone to create his or her own art in the community art studio.  No surprise that the most popular subject of the evening were hearts!  Live artists included Tatiana Farkas, Matthew Guhl, Joshua Isla, and Lori Practico from Girl Noticed, who created a one-of-a-kind piece for the dedicated volunteers of the HEArt Show. 

Special guests of the evening included Louis & Anne Green, Jan Savarick, Dr. María Ordóñez, Dr. Benjamin Bensadon, Dr. Marlaine C. Smith, Dr. Lynne Dunphy, Dr. Priti Kothari, and Patricia Thomas.  Nearly 225 guests came out to support the HEArt Show and $14,500 was raised for the Louis & Anne Green Memory and Wellness Center.  As for Clara, she is already busy planning next year’s show. Bossie is dedicated to spreading the belief that “…the creative self is the healthiest self” – she is an unstoppable force for good.

For more information and event highlights, please visit HEArtshow.org.

Students Receive Tips on Fueling Their Creative Selves

Students in grades 3-12 gathered in West Palm Beach on Saturday, October 24, participating in the year-round enrichment programs offered through the Kravis Center.   Underwritten by the Lawrence J. and Florence A. De George Charitable Trust, the De George Academy for Performing Arts provides instruction and coaching to economically disadvantaged youth interested in the performing arts.  Through these ongoing programs, students learn necessary tools and strategies that enrich their creative lives.

Christie Caggiani, RDN, LDN, CEDRD, understands how good nutrition helps students achieve goals.  Christie’s presentation, “Fueling Your Creative Self: Simple Strategies for Super Students”, emphasized the connection between regular, balanced meals fueling creative endeavors.  Children eagerly listened on as Christie shared important tips that included:

  • Always eat breakfast!
  • Don’t skip meals. 
  • • Have grains, protein, and color at all meals.
  • • Eat when you’re hungry, stop when just right.
  • • Have Growing Foods (whole grains, fruits & veggies, dairy, nuts, protein) for a sharp brain & body, and include Sometimes Foods (candy, desserts, sweets)
  • Enjoy your food and let creativity shine!

Wishing the best to these budding super stars!