Peaceful Eating: Creating Calm Throughout the Holidays

Christie Caggiani, RDN, LDN, CEDRD

We have arrived at holiday season. Here we are.


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?

To get to the answers, we must first identify the pitfalls that typically ensnare us. We either:

Try to control, because we’ve been brainwashed to believe that holiday weight gain is rampant and we must fight against it. So we diet, skip meals, delay eating or vow to avoid our favorite foods.

Don’t care at all, believing that making supportive choices is impossible, and vowing to just wait and start over in January.

Tune out, going through the holidays in a bit of a blur, not enjoying food, relationships, events or the meaning of the season.

Combine all of the above, vacillating back and forth between attempted control, over-hunger, overwhelming emotions and situations. These lead us to give up, tune out, and eat mindlessly, only to repeat the cycle in some manner the next day.

But Hallelujah! Peace is possible, if we only stop trying so hard. In fact, as we allow food on our plate intentionally, we’ll find the rest of our holidays are more in sync as well. Here’s how:

1. Honor your signals. That starts by eating 3 regular and timely meals, whether it’s Thanksgiving, the day before a party or a typical workday. Every single day, eat actual meals. Saving up for a meal at a later time confuses our signals and leaves us feeling unsatisfied and/or overfull. This also creates a sense of being disconnected, not only from ourselves, but from others as well.

2. Keep snacks with you at all times, because many days aren’t routine this time of year. Being prepared for a longer-than-expected shopping day or late evening holiday concert will keep your brain and body fed, helping you handle stress and chaos with ease. Believe me, your family will appreciate that your afternoon snack helped prevent your transformation into the Grinch.

3. Eat what you like. Really. That means include your favorite holiday foods, and truly, completely savor them. When we eat what we enjoy, we’re more likely to find satiety.

4. Take a peek at hors d’oeuvres, the menu or the buffet so you can choose what you truly want. By using a plate, you can best tune into the amounts that match your hunger level at that moment.

5. Stay mindful. Start by taking a breath before you enter a party, sit at a table or begin eating. Using all our senses, we can be more in the moment, and optimize what we get from our food, our social opportunities, and our relationships.

6. Stop when content. Aim for the feeling of “just right”, reminding yourself that you can eat this food again, whether it be tomorrow, next week or when you want pumpkin pie in July.

7. Have gratitude. Take a moment to pause before every single time you eat, bringing awareness to the food in front of you and appreciation for it and the people in your life.

By aiming to tune in to our food, we are more likely to keep perspective throughout the season, laugh, rest, and celebrate what’s truly important.

Christie Caggiani, RDN, LDN, CEDRD, is a co-founder and nutrition therapist at Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches.  In addition to seeing clients, Christie enjoys participating in speaking engagements and workshops.

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.

The opposite of attachment is detachment.  In healthy relationships, detachment is essential. Detachment values autonomy.  Individuals are able to function independently, and choose to be interdependent in  expression of shared intentions. As Thich Nhat Hanh writes, “You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free, not only outside but also inside.”  When detachment is practiced, individuals are safe to share their thoughts, feelings, and suffering with each other.

Building a healthy relationship free of attachment begins with self-awareness.  Instead of focusing on your partner’s actions (or inaction), bring your attention inward.  Ask yourself, “Am I lovable?”  What are your feelings of worth? Developing mindfulness of our attitudes, perceptions, and emotions will promote detachment.  “When we practice deep looking directed toward the heart of reality, we receive help, we receive understanding, we receive the wisdom that makes us free.”

By looking inwards, we transition from the ego state, identified as prideful and willful, to an open willingness which allows us to truly be present for our partners.  This enlightenment journey will look different for each person, and the signals of growth are change and progression.  Even if only one person is willing to look inward, changes will naturally occur in the relationship.  I like to remind others that there are no failures, only evolution.

On the path from attachment to detachment, it is important to practice self-compassion.  Difficult feelings will arise – be with them.  Practice tenderness with yourself, and compassion will bloom.

Clara Bossie, LMFT offers a True Love book study.  For more information, visit or call 561-278-6033.

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?

While doing some research, I was pleased to find that many universities across the country are designing meditation spaces and cultivating a mindful culture within their campus communities. Carnegie-Mellon, has a designated “Mindfulness Room”, open 24 hours a day, where walls are filled with inspirational messages from fellow students. Closer to home, the University of Miami offers weekly meditation classes at their wellness center. UCLA has even gone so far as to dedicate an entire research facility to mindfulness.meditation

There are a variety of easy and inexpensive resources for college students who would like to learn more about mindfulness:

✥   The Little Book of Mindfulness, Dr. Patrizia Collard

✥   Mindfulness for Beginners, Jon Kabat-Zinn Ph.D.

Online meditation and mindfulness resources for college aged adults. Many online meditations are available.

✥   Beginner’s meditation is also available at Sacred Treehouse, Mondays from 10 – 11 a.m.

Mindfulness is a simple and powerful tool which can help promote overall wellbeing for stressed out college students.

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

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!

Early Morning Movement by Anni Johnston, MS, LMHC, BC-DMT

Anni Johnston1

Our lives can be so busy that we can burst past opportunities to enjoy the “slow moments” of our lives.  The first moments upon waking are such an opportunity.  Rather than jump out of bed and get moving straight away, why not try the following body-focused techniques to promote greater peace, gratitude, and centeredness in your day.  Done together or as you please on a daily basis, it can change the way you relate to loved ones, your work, and yourself.

First thing even before opening your eyes, try taking a few moments to place your hands upon your uppper chest and notice your beating heart and moving lungs.  This is a way to connect to the wisdom that pulses through you all day, every day.  Before moving your hands, try focusing on those things for which you feel gratitude, big or small, and allow this sense of gratitude to permeate your chest.  The same approach can be taken with the diaphragm (the soft area just below your rib cage).  Let your hands rest very gently here and notice the ease at which your breath moves through your body.  A beautiful meditation option is to bring into focus small ways in which you have received gifts, support, or unexpected good events.

You can take the time to do some simple stretches even before you leave the bed.  Of course if you still have a sleeping spouse or partner, you might choose to do these on a carpet, but if you’re able, it can feel quite luxurious to stretch while still cozy in bed!  Here are some ideas – pick one or two, or do the whole sequence:

• Circle your feet, first in one direction, then in the other.  Repeat this with your hands.

• Stretch your arms above your head while simultaneously stretching your feet away from your hips. Hold this for a few moments, then repeat.

• Let your head turn all the way to the right, then extend the left arm at an angle away from the shoulder joint.  Repeat on the other side.

• Bring your knees up into a tent position; let them fall to the right and then twist the upper torso to the left.  Hold this for a few moments.  Repeat on the other side.

• Prop your upper torso up upon your elbows and let your head hang backwards while opening up your chest, follow this with laying flat again and curling your knees into your chest.

• End with some invigorating breaths such as “breath of fire”.  While keeping your mouth closed, breathe deeply and vigorously, emphasizing the navel contracting strongly towards the spine.  15-25 is plenty to energize you, but you may add another sequence if you are feeling sluggish.

These are some simple suggestions for interjecting new ways for self-care.  As always, honor the limits of the body and approach these as gifts you can give yourself.  Enjoy!

Introducing CALM: Stress Reduction & Mindfulness for Teens

Shutt Fav Headshot (1)Modern life has many amenitites that simplify and automate our lives; however, daily demands continue to grow rapidly.  Technological advances streamline tasks while simultaneously keep us connected to social media, news, and email.  We have at our fingertips the ability to reap the benefits of a less stressful lifestyle, but we often pursue the path of more rather than less.  Besides the obvious negative impact on our own health, modeling this more and more lifestyle has consquenses for our children as well.  (Don’t worry! Nonjudgment…I’ve made many of these choices too.) Recognizing stress motivates us parents to incorporate stress reduction practices into our own lives.  How do we then identify and incorporate stress reduction into the lives of our children?

Some stress is part of everday living.  In teenagers, many stressful life expereinces are often part of the norm.  Mild stress can be helpful to motivate one to complete difficult taks and reach important goals.  However, excessive and/or chronic stress in teens may result in a downward spiral of emotional and physical problems.  Common signs of stress in teens include:

Difficulty sleeping

Changes in appetite (too much or too little)

Excessive worry thoughts

Avoidance of social situations and activities

Frequent illness

Headaches and stomachaches

Extreme anger or sadness (reacts or overreacts)

Substance abuse

Parents who have identified stress related symptoms, anxiety, or depression in their child or adolescent might have already sought psychotherapy treatment. In addition to therapy, research has demonstrated that mindfulness is an effective tool for reducing stress, offering teens a way out of suffering and reducing risk to complications that arise from untreated anxiety and depression (including dropping out of school, addiction, and suicide).  Mindfulness can also help with the everyday challenges of being a teen, such as college testing and applications, homework, extracurricular activities and social relationships.  Offering teens an alternative way of building stress resiliency before they breakdown can be an excellent preventative medicine tool.  Some tips to incorporate mindfulness into your teen’s life include:

1. Disconnect!  Even if it is only for 20 minutes, remind your teen that downtime is important.  Turn off the technology and focus on breathing.  Breathe in a full breath (fuller than usual) and very slowly exhale, feeling the sensations of letting go.  With each exhale, there is a softening of the body.  Repeat.

2. Naming. When you are stressed, take time to pause, identify and name your emotions and thoughts.  Ask yourself, “Is this really true?”  Check the facts and see if there are any exaggeration of thoughts or catastrophic beliefs.  What can you realistically do about it now?  If nothing else, practice letting go.  Reframe by thinking, “I am feeling stressed about _____ and I intend to do _______ about it, or I am going to let this go for now.

3. If your mind is racing and overwhelmed with too many thoughts, STOP.  Stop everying.  Take a deep breath, Observe your breath, Proceed mindfully with just one thought.

Utilizing these easy tools now will provide teens with a lifetime of healthy coping mechanisms.  To advance your teen’s mindfulness knowledge even further, learn more about CALM: Teen Mindfulness Workshop at Sacred Treehouse.  This workshop will teach teens techniques to help cultivate acceptance and live mindfully.  Classes will include gentle yoga and stretching, mindful meditation, group discussion, and self-reflection activities. 

Wishing you and your children health, joy, and peace. 

– Dr. Patty Shutt

CALM: Teen Mindfulness Workshop will begin on Saturday, October 24th, 3:30-5:00 p.m.  For more information, please call 561-278-6033.


In May, Team Oasis had the pleasure of meeting Lindsey Averill, feminist activist, scholar, and filmmaker.  Averill, a PhD candidate at Florida Atlantic University, is currently working on her first documentary.  Fattitude explores representations of overweight people in popular culture, which often include unflattering stereotypes, discrimination, and ridicule. Through interviews with scholars and activists, Fattitude reveals to viewers that every body is worthy of love, pleasure, and acceptance.

Ms. Averill shared the Fattitude trailer, as well as unreleased clips.  After viewing, we spoke passionately about the objectification of women’s bodies, the false correlation between thinness and health, and even fatkinis.  It was evident to all in attendance that cultural perceptions of body image need to be examined and discussed openly, regardless of the reactions of others.

Fattitude is an ambitious project currently in its post-production stages.  Fundraising efforts have already generated over $44,000; however, costs have proven to be higher than anticipated.  Here is what we ask of you:

  1. View the trailer at:
  2. Help spread the word!  Discuss Fattitude with friends, family, and co-workers.
  3. Follow Fattitude on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
  4. If you feel compelled to give, make a tax-deductible donation.

Just this past weekend, body shaming made national news.  We cannot wait for Fattitude to change minds and hearts.  What are your thoughts?

Staff Spotlight: Ashley Leising, M.S., Registered Mental Health Counseling Intern

Staff Spotlight
Meet Ashley Leising, M.S., #IMH13586
Registered Mental Health Counseling Intern

What is your academic background?

I double majored in Psychology and Family and Child Sciences, and graduated with my Bachelor of Science from The Florida State University. I then went onto obtain my Master of Science from Palm Beach Atlantic University in Mental Health Counseling.

Favorite Self-Care Activities:

Massages, going to the beach/on the boat, hanging with my cousins, working out, getting my hair and nails done, shopping, cleaning.

What is your approach to therapy?

I have an integrative approach with a focus on Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. Each client is different, and I tailor my approach toward their needs.

What influenced you to become a therapist? When did you know that you wanted to work in mental health?

At a young age, I had the opportunity to help my aunt coach children with autism. During
undergrad, I interned at a private practice and have always enjoyed helping others. Through my internship, I began to realize that I have a passion for helping and working with people. I enjoyed my undergraduate coursework and knew mental health was a field I wanted to pursue higher education in.

Why is therapy important?

Sometimes, we just can’t doing everything ourselves. Therefore, we seek the help of others. Therapy is a place for clients to focus on themselves.

Ashley is available for individual therapy sessions and DBT coaching.  Call (561) 278-6033 to schedule an appointment.

Staff Spolight: Stephanie Burstein, M.S., Registered Marriage & Family Therapy Intern

Staff Spotlight
Meet Stephanie Burstein, M.S., #IMT2307
Registered Marriage and Family Therapy Intern

What is your academic background?

I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Florida Atlantic University. Upon
graduating, I moved to NYC, where I have an aunt who is a psychiatrist, and interned at a state clinic. Soon after, I began looking into graduate programs, and ultimately decided to come back home to be closer to my family. I attended Palm Beach Atlantic University, where I recently obtained my Master of Science in both Marriage and Family Therapy and Mental Health Counseling.

Favorite Self-Care Activities:

I love to work on my art journals and experiment with mixed media. I find it relaxing to lay out all my materials on a table and just start to play! I also really enjoy comedy. Whenever I’ve had a rough day, I have go-to comedians that can brighten my mood! To quote Audrey Hepburn, “I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It’s probably the most important thing in a person.”

What is your approach to therapy?

As a Marriage and Family therapist, I take a Systems Approach. I see individuals as part of a system that impacts them. Luckily, I work alongside some amazing therapists who challenge and support me. I am continuously growing as a clinician and love every minute of it.

What influenced you to become a therapist? When did you know that you wanted to work in mental health?

I think I always knew I wanted to work with people on a personal level, but was not sure to what extent. I toyed with the idea of becoming a teacher, but the idea of being able to really help create positivity in a person when they needed it most seemed like it was the best path for me. It was during my general psychology class that I decided to change majors. This class sparked more of my interest to understand our behaviors.

Why is therapy important?

We all want to be understood and ultimately therapy helps facilitate that desire.

Stephanie is available for individual therapy sessions and DBT coaching for children, teens and parents.  Call (561) 278-6033 to schedule an apppointment.